BSc Physics / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Planetary Evolution

Course unit fact file
Unit code EART35202
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 6
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

In this course unit students will learn about the evolution of the terrestrial planets and icy body structures. Content varies somewhat from year to year to reflect current areas of exciting research, but in outline will cover these areas.

 

Planetary scale processes including origins of planetary cores, mantles and crusts (modified by volcanism and magmatism, impact cratering, and erosion). We will see how these processes allow us to compare and contrast planetary scale evolution.

 

We will discuss the relationships between terrestrial planetary atmospheres and climate change, especially the contrasting fates of water on Mars and Venus, and the reasons their climates have differed from that of the Earth. This will lead to a discussion of the features of the Earth that lead to its being able to support us, and how they arose (i.e., planetary habitability).

 

There is an emphasis in the course on developing your own understanding, applying it in new contexts, and supporting your opinions with evidence. Students are encouraged to read around the subject, following their interests and starting from some recommended papers on the blackboard site.

 

Pre/co-requisites

Pre-requisite units

Earth and Planetary Sciences (Planetary Pathway)  BSc or MSci course

 

Physics BSc or MSci course

 

Co-requisite units

None

 

Aims

In this unit you will learn about the processes that have shaped the environments of the rocky and icy planetary bodies in our Solar System. You will consider whether the Earth is unique in our Solar System in providing a habitable environment.

 

Learning outcomes

On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

Developed

Assessed

ILO 1

Provide an up-to-date account of the properties of the rocky and icy planetary bodies in our Solar System.

x

x

ILO 2

Describe and comment on current theories that account for the properties of these planetary bodies.

x

x

ILO 3

Discuss the merits of arguments, assumptions and source data(s) relevant to the understanding the formation and evolution of the Solar System’s rocky and icy planetary bodies.

x

x

ILO 4

Explain areas of uncertainty in our understanding of the Solar System.

x

x

ILO 5

Support their opinions with evidence from scholarly reviews and primary sources.

x

x

 

Syllabus

  • Processes that set the compositions of planetary bodies.
  • Comparisons among planetary bodies in the solar system between the solar system and exoplanetary systems.
  • Impact cratering and its use for surface chronology.
  • The contrasting histories of planetary bodies including the Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, the Galilean satellites and Titan.
  • Processes that made the Earth a habitable environment.

Teaching and learning methods

20 x 1 hour meetings.

Blackboard site with course material, links to recommendations for further reading, notes, and a discussion board.

 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 100%

Feedback methods

Assessment type

% Weighting within unit

Hand out and hand in dates

Length

 

How, when and what feedback is provided

ILO tested

Report (individual)

33

Tbd (about half way through)

Tbd

Via turnitin individually, and via global report/comments

ILOs 1-5

Report (individual)

67

Tbd(after last class)

Tbd

Via turnitin individually, and via global report/comments

ILOs 1-5

 

Recommended reading

Research papers for suggested reading are available on the home page of the blackboard site, with those most beneficial highlighted.

 

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 100

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Gilmour Unit coordinator

Additional notes

STUDY HOURS

 

Type

Example student activity

Total Hours

New material

Consolidation and Practice

Contact time (students are in front of staff)

Lecture (new material)

Mostly listening & taking notes (mostly new material)

20

15

5

Lecture (revision/examples)

Mostly listening & taking notes (no new material- revision of course)

0

0

0

Practical (new material and practice.  Typically 25-50% of practical  time is spent on new material)

Interactive individual or group work (problem solving, experiments, watching demonstrations, describing and interpreting samples, paper-based exercises, computer-based exercises)

0

0

0

Tutorial

Interactive small group work

0

0

0

Seminar/examples class

Working on and discussing questions

0

0

0

Independent study time

Pre/post lecture work

Reading own notes, re-solving examples, prep work, revisit podcast

40

0

40

Pre/post practical work/write up

Complete practical work, prep work, reading feedback

0

0

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