Exoplanets and Astrobiology

Course content

The purpose of the course is to present an understanding of how the complexity of matter has evolved from its simplest forms during Big Bang to the rise of intelligent life that is capable of understanding its own place in this fabulous development.

Formation of the elements during Big Bang, supernovae and red giants. Dust formation, stellar winds, and the re-circulation of cosmic material. Formation of the solar system. Planets around other stars. The physical-chemical basis for life. The arise and development of life on the Earth. Conditions for finding life beyond Earth. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence.


MSc Programme in Physics

Learning outcome

When the course is finished it is expected that the student is able to:

  • Explain how the simplest material arose and developed into the complex matter of modern day universe.
  • Put our own solar system in context of planetary systems in the Galaxy in general.
  • Explain the difference between dead and living material and explain what is meant by intelligence and by alien life.
  • Explain how we at least in principle can identify and communicate with extraterrestrial life forms.

Understanding of how the simplest elements were formed during Big Bang and how stars have processed them into larger atoms, molecules and solid material during the lifetime of the universe. Understanding how we today can measure the conditions and processes that formed our solar system 4.6 Gyr ago and how we can compare that with the formation of other planetary systems. Understand the existing search methods for finding planets around other stars, and being able to compare the results of these methods to the knowledge we have about our own solar system. Understand the basic conditions that played a role for the rise of life on Earth, and some theories for how the development to advanced life forms can have taken place.

Being able to argue for and against whether similar processes can have taken place on other planets. Understand how we can search for traces of life elsewhere in the universe and what our limitations in searching for it are.
This course will provide the students with a competent background for further studies within this research field, e.g. an M.Sc. project

Lectures, exercises, and group presentations and discussions of chosen larger subjects.

Lecture notes

It is expected that you have finished a bachelor degree in one of the natural science fields, typically physics, astronomy, geophysics, geology or biology.
The course is typically followed by students with various different backgrounds, and the most important is therefore curiosity toward aspects of the broad range of sciences that are involved in understanding why the universe eventually came to including intelligent life.
Mathematical skills on the level of having passed an introductory mathematics course at B.Sc. level in e.g. the physics B.Sc..
You are not requested to know more biology prior to the course than what is taught in highschool.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 min
Without preparation time after drawing one of the approximately 8 known exam questions.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
More internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • Preparation
  • 129,5
  • Exercises
  • 28
  • English
  • 206,0