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A multi-disciplinary approach is required to understand the most profound questions about life on Earth, and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.
This subject will explore the key ideas from the major scientific disciplines to understand the nature of life, the formation of the Earth and the structure of the universe. The development of life on the planet Earth is dependent on evolution of the surface of the planet, and in turn has affected the surface of the planet. Armed with an understanding of how life might have evolved on Earth, the subject will then explore the possibilities for life elsewhere in the solar system and beyond.
Topics covered will include: cosmology, extrasolar planets, the search for extraterrestrial life, the formation of the Earth, the early Earth and the evolution of the atmosphere, climatic evolution, definition and origin of life, early cellular evolution, evolution of metazoan life and mass extinctions, prebiotic chemistry, the rise of RNA and DNA, metabolic processes and ecosystems and the evolution of photosynthesis.
Intended learning outcomes
The subject will teach both the fundamental concepts in each of the core scientific disciplines: astrophysics, biology, geology and earth sciences, as well as developing the ability to use the scientific method to critically approach the key questions about the existence and evolution of life on the planet.
On completion of this subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:
- quantitative skills, including working with powers of ten, ratios and computer models;
- experimental skills developed in biology, astronomy and earth sciences laboratories; and
- the ability to use the scientific method to think through problems critically.
Last updated: 15 February 2020