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PHSI170 Sun, Earth and Universe

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This non-advancing paper progresses in a largely descriptive way through the essentials of our understandings of the Sun-Earth system, and its place in the wider Universe. Lecture topics include ancient and classical astronomy, stellar evolution, black holes, cosmology, and the exploration of the solar system. The importance of historical aspects and the progressive development of ideas is emphasised, with a minimum of mathematics.

Special topics included are: "the size and age of the universe", "the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence" and "what would be the effect of a large meteor impact on the Earth?" This paper is intended for students who have an interest in a broad education. We aim to facilitate a continuing interest in astronomy and space exploration.

Paper title Sun, Earth and Universe
Paper code PHSI170
Subject Physics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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Schedule C
Teaching staff

Professor Craig Rodger

Dr Jonathan Squire


Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation. View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students completing this paper will:

  1. Be aware of the essential aspects of our understanding of the wider Universe.
  2. Know the importance of historical aspects and the progressive development of ideas.
  3. Grasp the range of scale sizes and numerical values needed to describe astronomical scales of time, space and mass.

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Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 13:00-13:50 2-5, 7
Tuesday 13:00-13:50 2-7
Wednesday 13:00-13:50 2-7
Thursday 13:00-13:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 15:00-17:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 2-7