This forward-looking unit examines humanity’s relationship with the rest of the cosmos through the understanding and exploration of space. We explore what it means for (some) humans to colonize space and ask what the benefits and risks of this are for all of us on planet earth. We also investigate what happens as humans get more in touch with outerspace - what does this mean for our understandings of ourselves and nature?


PHI30012 Planet B: Space and Extra-Terrestrial Ethics


50 credit points

Teaching Periods
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date
Semester 1
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  • Discuss a range of philosophical questions related to space, its exploration and colonization.
  • Systematically develop and defend a position on a topic about the implications of humanity’s move into outer space.
  • Critically evaluate philosophical perspectives and underlying assumptions in the major topics explored in this unit.
  • Think relationally and imaginatively about humanity’s future.

Teaching methods


Type Hours per week Number of weeks Total (number of hours)
Face to Face Contact (Phasing out)
1.00 12 weeks 12
Face to Face Contact (Phasing out)
2.00 12 weeks 24
Specified Learning Activities (Phasing out)
3.00 12 weeks 36
Unspecified Learning Activities (Phasing out)
Independent Learning
6.50 12 weeks 78


Type Task Weighting ULO's
EssayIndividual 50% 1,2,4 
JournalIndividual 30% 
Tutorial PresentationIndividual 20% 


  • The “colonisation” of space – its historical, political and moral context, and what does the future hold?
  • From egoism to nihilism: Earth and the rest of the universe.
  • From seeing ourselves as at the centre of the universe to imagining we have no meaningful place in it at all. How this affects our attitude to space and the role it plays in our lives?
  • The ethics of space exploration including economic impacts, environmental issues, how to prepare for “first contact", and more.
  • Life, the universe, and everything: How does a consideration of alien lifeforms help us to understand the nature of life itself?
  • Inner space versus outer space: The subject/object distinction; abstract thought, creativity and imagination in technology development and how these factors contribute to our understanding of the cosmos.
  • Utopia/dystopia in science fiction, and how this continues to impact our approach to space exploration.

Study resources

Reading materials

A list of reading materials and/or required textbooks will be available in the Unit Outline on Canvas.