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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Planetary Science (EASC10128)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides an introduction to recent advances in planetary science. We will consider how our solar system formed, and how the planets, moons and smaller bodies which constitute it have evolved through time. The course consists of weekly sessions based around topical areas in planetary science and astrobiology research, during which students summarise and present data from recent publications and missions. Lab classes provide students with hands-on practical skills in modern planetary research, from assessing the nature of planetary systems to dealing with the challenges of mission control for a robotic mission.
Course description During each weekly session we will focus on a different area of planetary science. Examples of topics include, but are not limited to:
- From dust to planets in less than 100Myr: formation and early evolution of the solar system.
- The moon-forming impact: how a catastrophic collision forged the Earth-Moon system.
- Planetary volcanology: comparing volcanic processes on Earth, Mars, Venus and the icy moons.
- Looking beyond our solar system: exoplanets and the search for Earth 2.
- The icy worlds: planetary processes in the outer solar system.
- Separating iron from rock: the timing and enduring legacy of core formation.
- biosignatures and habitable worlds: the search for extra-terrestrial life.

Each week, topics will be introduced through a short lecture. Students will then give 15 minute oral presentations on selected papers, followed by an instructor-led topical debate. These sessions will be augmented with a series of practicals where students will be introduced to a range of planetary materials, assess the nature and habitability of extra-solar planetary systems, and have a chance to run mission control for their own robotic exploration mission to Mars.

This course will allow students to gain further skills in independent learning and critical analysis and in debating, in a friendly, inclusive environment.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework: 100%

30%: Student oral presentations of research papers; students will prepare and present 2x 15 minute talks throughout the course.

70%: Written presentation. Students will prepare a 3000 word scientific report summarising key aspects of one area of planetary science. This cannot be a topic which students have orally presented on, and must include some aspect of original data analysis and interpretation.

Assessment deadlines
Student Oral Presentations: Weeks 2 - 10, semester 2, in class presentation
Written Presentation: 12noon, Wednesday, week 11, semester 2
Feedback Students will receive written and oral feedback on presentations within the session they present, from both staff and their peers. Staff will additionally grade and assess presentations and provide individual feedback for student presenters at the end of each session. Written feedback on reports will be given by staff. There will be additional feedback opportunities during practical classes.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Synthesise and critically analyse key data and complex arguments from peer reviewed literature, and from planetary science research.
  2. Communicate complex ideas in modern scientific research through short oral presentations.
  3. Describe key processes in the formation and evolution of planetary material within the solar system.
  4. Describe key topics and research directions in modern planetary science research.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Geoffrey Bromiley
Tel: (0131 6)50 8519
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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