The UNSW Astrobiology: Life in the Universe (BEES6741) course is a fully online, third-stage science elective course. It explores the search for life elsewhere in the universe through the origin of life on Earth. It also looks at the mysteries of why the Earth-like planet Mars died early in its evolution and whether Mars ever had any microbial life forms. Throughout this course, you’ll delve into the implications for life elsewhere in the solar system and planetary life in solar systems beyond.

The course involves three diverse assignments that build towards a key outcome – to comprehend the true nature of science through the lens of the search for life in the universe and how astrobiologists undertake their work.

  • Assignment one: explore how life and our planet co-evolved
  • Assignment two: develop field trip skills to explore a course-specific designed interactive Virtual Field Trip to the Pilbara in Western Australia. You’ll explore ten related sites where the earliest, most convincing evidence of life on Earth 3.48 billion years ago can be found. Prior geology knowledge/experience is not required.
  • Assignment three: explore Mars using NASA data and the implications for finding life elsewhere in the universe. An online video conference with Dr Adrian Brown, Deputy Program scientist on the NASA Mars Rover Mission, is planned as assistance on this assignment.

The course has no final exam.  

Conditions for enrolment

The pre-requisite for the course is 48 units of credit (UoC) in Science. Students are encouraged to take the second stage science and general education elective Introduction to Astrobiology (BEES2741) before enrolling on this course. 

Find out more

For more information, please contact Dr Carol Oliver.


T:  +61 4 1747 7612