• Class Number 3439
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Phil Dowe
    • Prof Dayal Wickramasinghe
    • Prof Phil Dowe
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

A course for science or non-science students jointly offered by Mathematics and Philosophy that aims to provide a conceptual understanding of some of the many faces of the large-scale universe. We will discuss general issues relating to the nature of philosophy and science, space and time, and the universe as a whole.

Note: This is an HPO. Students who take this option will complete extra work of a more theoretical nature. Some of the assignment and exam questions will be replaced by questions requiring deeper conceptual understanding.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding in outline of the history of cosmology, and of contemporary cosmology;
  2. demonstrate a conceptual understanding of relativity theory;
  3. appreciate that many of the theories underlying modern cosmology are contentious;
  4. understand what would be involved in further study in philosophy of science, and in cosmology; and
  5. make a habit of an educated questioning of scientific orthodoxy.

Required Resources

All required reading will be supplied via Wattle.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 All lectures in this course are recorded behind closed doors and uploaded to Echo, accessible via Wattle. Lectures will be uploaded Monday and Tuesday each week. (PD= Phil Dowe, DW= Dayal Wickramasinghe); Week 1 Lectures: 1. Introduction / Philosophy of Astronomy I: The Music of the Spheres. (PD); 2. History of Astronomy I: The Music of the Spheres (DW)
2 Lectures: 1. History of Astronomy II: The Copernican Revolution (DW); 2. Theory and Observation (PD)
3 Lectures: 1. Realism and Instrumentalism (PD); 2. History of Astronomy III: The Expanding Universe (DW)
4 Lectures: 1. History of Astronomy IV: Big Bang and Steady State Models (DW); 2. Space and Time (PD)
5 Lectures: 1. Curved Spaces (DW); 2. The Beginning of Time (PD) MATH1042 1st Essay Due Friday
6 Lectures: 1. Relativity Before Einstein (DW); 2. The Edge of Space (PD)
7 Lectures: 1. Light Cones (DW); 2. Chirality (PD)
8 1. Causality (PD); 2. Relativity According to Einstein I: Special Relativity (DW)
9 Lectures: 1. Relativity According to Einstein II: General Relativity (DW); 2. The Fate of Now I: The Present and The Block Universe (PD)
10 Lectures: 1. Cosmological Models (DW); 2. The Fate of Now II: Time Travel (PD)
11 Lectures: 1. The Accelerating Universe (DW); 2. Dark Philosophy (PD)
12 Lectures: 1. Black Holes (DW); 2. Why Are We Here? (PD) MATH1042 2nd Essay Due Wednesday

Tutorial Registration

via Wattle in Week 1, Tutorials begin in week 2.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Essay 1 15 % 26/03/2021 * 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Essay 2 25 % 26/05/2021 * 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Exam 50 % 03/06/2021 01/07/2021 1, 2, 3
Tutorial contributions 10 % 22/02/2021 28/05/2021 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation will be graded on the quality of your contributions in tutorials (ie 'workshops') through the semester. Value: 10%


The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 26/03/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Essay 1

  • Length: 600 words
  • Value: 15%
  • Submission: Essays must be submitted through Wattle.
  • Essay questions will be posted on Wattle two weeks before the due date.
  • Your work will be judged on: how well it answers the question asked, how well it displays mastery of relevant content of the course, and clarity in setting out views and arguments.
  • Essay marks and comments will be returned approximately two weeks after due date.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 26/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Essay 2

  • Length: 1000 words
  • Value: 25%
  • Submission: Essays must be submitted through Wattle.
  • Essay questions will be posted on Wattle three weeks before the due date.
  • Your work will be judged on: how well it answers the question asked, how well it displays mastery of relevant content of the course, and clarity in setting out views and arguments.
  • Marks and comments will be provided when the University releases grades.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 03/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3


  • The exam will be held in the University Examination Period.
  • The exam will be conducted online via Wattle at a specific time tba.
  • The precise format is tba.
  • Value: 50%
  • Your work will be judged on: how accurately it answers the questions asked, how well it displays mastery of relevant content of the course.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 22/02/2021
Return of Assessment: 28/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 4, 5

Tutorial contributions

Participation will be graded on the quality of your contributions in tutorials (ie 'workshops') through the semester. Value: 10%

Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester. The date range for this task comprises the start of the semester and the date final results are published on ISIS.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Feedback on Essays will be provided on Wattle approximately 2 weeks after due date.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Phil Dowe

Research Interests

Prof Phil Dowe

Tuesday 11:00 12:00
Prof Dayal Wickramasinghe

Research Interests

Prof Dayal Wickramasinghe

Prof Phil Dowe

Research Interests

Prof Phil Dowe

Tuesday 11:00 12:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions