Planetary Science EARTH4086

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will focus on what has been learnt about our Solar System from extraterrestrial materials (e.g., meteorites), and mission data (e.g., remote sensing imagery, in-situ rover data).


Two classes per week for 5 weeks (1.5 hr lecture and 1.5 hr lab per class).

Requirements of Entry

Normally completion of Level 3 Geology courses or Level 3 Earth Science courses at a mean of D3.

Excluded Courses



Written exam (50%)

Practical skills assessment (50%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses


Course Aims

The aim of this course is to develop students' understanding of the Solar System by investigating the mineralogy, petrology and geochemistry of meteorites, and using remote sensing to investigate planetary surfaces and processes.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Critically assess the current model of Solar System formation, outlining evidence from chondritic meteorites, as well as planetary, cometary and asteroidal observations.

■ Identify the key petrological features of chondritic, martian and lunar meteorites/samples  

■ Explain the source and role of extinct radioisotopic systems (e.g., 26Al) in planetary differentiation

■ Analyse surface features (e.g., alluvial fans, complex craters) from a range of remote sensing images  

■ Critically assess the astrobiological advantages and disadvantages of Mars vs. other potentially habitable environments in our Solar System

■ Discuss the key pieces of evidence suggesting Mars once had a thicker atmosphere and wetter climate


Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.