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PHY2208 Planetary and Exoplanetary Science

Semester 2, 2019 Online
Short Description: Planetary&Exoplanetary Science
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Agric, Comp and Environ Sciences
Student contribution band : Band 2
ASCED code : 010303 - Astronomy
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Jonti Horner


Pre-requisite: PHY1104 and PHY1911


This course forms a mandatory coursework component for the Bachelor of Science (Astronomical and Space Sciences). The course provides an in-depth introduction to planetary and space sciences, including the results of space exploration of the Solar system and the discovery and characterisation of planets and planetary systems orbiting stars other than the Sun.


This course introduces planetary science, the study of our planetary system and others. Topics covered in this course include Physical Processes in the Solar System, The Terrestrial Planets, The Jovian Worlds, Minor Bodies of the Solar System, and The Formation of Planetary Systems. Additional topics develop scientific skills through the use of assignments. Mt Kent Observatory is also made available via remote access to students enrolled in this course, to provide an opportunity for learning practical skills used in astronomical and space sciences.


On completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Explain key concepts in planetary and exoplanetary science.
  2. Apply modern methods to evaluate relevant quantitative problems in planetary and exoplanetary science
  3. Analyse qualitative and quantitative data in planetary and exoplanetary science
  4. Evaluate links between relevant observations & experiments and physical theory
  5. Review and report scientific work relevant to research in planetary science and exoplanetary science


Description Weighting(%)
1. History of Planetary Science 10.00
2. Gravity and the Planets 10.00
3. The Inner Solar System 10.00
4. The Giant Planets 10.00
5. The Solar System's small bodies - Stable Objects 10.00
6. The Solar System's small bodies - Unstable Objects 10.00
7. Planet Formation 10.00
8. Finding Planets around Other Stars 10.00
9. The Exoplanet Era 10.00
10. The Future: The Search for Life 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

There are no texts or materials required for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Beatty, J.K, Peterson C.C, and Chaikin A 1998, The New Solar System, 4th edn, Cambridge University Press.
(ISBN: 0521645875.)
Bennett, Donahue, Schneider and Voit 2016, The Cosmic Perspective, 9th edn, Pearson Education/Addison Wesley-Benjamin, USA.
Carroll, B W. & Ostlie, D A 2014, An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics Pearson New International Edition, 2nd edn, Pearson Education Limited, Essex, UK.
(ISBN 13: 978-1-292-02293-2).(
Green, S. F & Jones, M. H 2015, An Introduction to the Sun and Stars, 2nd edn, Cambridge University Press.
Rothery, D. A, Gilmour, I & Sephton, M. A 2018, An Introduction to Astrobiology, 3rd edn, Cambridge University Press.
Rothery, D. A, McBride, N & Gilmour, I 2018, An Introduction to the Solar System, 3rd edn, Cambridge University Press.
Ryden B and Peterson B 2009, Foundations of Astrophysics, 1st edn, , USA 2009, Foundations of Astrophysics, 1st edn, Pearson/Addison Wesley, USQ.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 26.00
Directed Study 24.00
Online Discussion Groups 24.00
Online Lectures 24.00
Online Tutorials 24.00
Private Study 48.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Assignment 1 30 30 16 Jul 2019 (see note 1)
Assignment 2 10 10 16 Jul 2019
Exam 60 60 End S2 (see note 2)

  1. Assignment due dates will be available during the semester.
  2. This will be a restricted exam. The total working time for the examination is 2 hours. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the official examination timetable has been released.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks available.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course (i.e. the Primary Hurdle), and have satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), i.e. the end of semester examination by achieving at least 40% of the weighted marks available for that assessment item.

    Supplementary assessment may be offered where a student has undertaken all of the required summative assessment items and has passed the Primary Hurdle but failed to satisfy the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), or has satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised) but failed to achieve a passing Final Grade by 5% or less of the total weighted Marks.

    To be awarded a passing grade for a supplementary assessment item (if applicable), a student must achieve at least 50% of the available marks for the supplementary assessment item as per the Assessment Procedure (point 4.4.2).

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are:
    1. writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination);
    2. calculators which cannot hold textual information (students must indicate on their examination paper the make and model of any calculator(s) they use during the examination).
    3. Students may take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

Evaluation and benchmarking

In meeting the University’s aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course:
1. conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement.conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement.
2. forms part of the Bachelor of Science (Astronomy and Space Sciences) and will be benchmarked against the professional accreditation standards of the Australian Institute of Physics.