The University of Arizona

Astrobiology General Education Courses


200 Level Courses
Planetary Sciences 214 (Astrobiology: A Planetary Perspective): We will explore questions about the origin, evolution, and future of life on Earth and the possibility of life arising independently elsewhere in the Universe. We will examine what it means for a planet to be habitable, both in terms of basic necessities for living organisms to function and environmental limits to their ability to survive. Finally, we will review different approaches for searching for life within the Solar System and beyond using direct and remote sensing techniques. PTYS 214 is a Tier II Natural Science course in the University general education curriculum. 
Planetary Sciences 206 (Our Golden Age of Planetary Exploration): PTYS 206 emphasizes the part of the universe that is within reach of direct human experience and exploration. We will review current understanding of the contents of our Solar System and emphasize the processes that unite all of the planets and smaller bodies, such as tectonics, weathering, cratering, differentiation, and the evolution of oceans and atmospheres. The course will build on this knowledge to understand humankind's motivation to explore beyond our Solar System, especially to search for planets around distant stars and to look or listen for evidence of life elsewhere in the Universe. PTYS 206 is a Tier II Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum. 
Astronomy 202 (Life in the Universe): The main goal for students in this course is to have fun learning about the possibilities for life in the Universe and, in the process, gain an appreciation for the methods used in science. To achieve this goal, we will study such seemingly diverse topics as the origin of the Universe, heavy element production, the formation of stars and planets, the nature of planets and their atmospheres, basic chemistry, geological and atmospheric evolution, biological evolution, cultural and technological evolution, interstellar travel, and communication techniques.

100 Level Courses
Planetary Sciences 195A (First Year Colloquium): Freshmen and other first year students are encouraged to enroll in one-unit First Year Colloquia that allow for in-depth exploration of a science topic. Colloquia feature lively discussion and class participation. Topics vary by semester (e.g., "The Changing Sun and its Influence on Earth: Does the Sun's natural variability affect climate on Earth?" and "Why do we have a space program?"). For further information, contact the Department of Planetary Sciences. 
Planetary Sciences 170A1 (Planet Earth: Evolution of the Habitable World): This course develops a planetary perspective on the evolutionary processes that shaped Earth throughout history. We will examine why Earth is habitable, that is, why any kind of life can live on it, we will discuss the unique influences that biological processes and atmosphere/ocean systems have on each other, and we will review current notions of climate change, including evidence for the influence of human activities on it. This interdisciplinary treatment of Earth and its sister planets will encourage students to think about how science and engineering must be applied to today's challenges if humankind is to have a promising future on (and off) this planet. PTYS 170A1 is a Tier I Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum.
Planetary Sciences 170B2 (The Universe and Humanity: Origin and Destiny): The Universe And Humanity: Origin And Destiny places Earth and humanity in a broad cosmic context. Topics range from the Big Bang cosmology to human consciousness with emphasis on the events and evolutionary processes that define the physical universe and our place in it. PTYS 170B2 is a Tier I Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum.