• Class Number 6157
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Penny King
    • Penny King
    • Catherine Wilsbacher
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

How did the Earth form? How do planets form? How can we search for life beyond Earth? This course is an introduction to planetary science that tries to answer these questions.

 We will explore the solar system and exoplanets. We will step back in time to examine the earliest solar system, going back to the origin of the elements themselves and the processes that build new solar systems, planetary surfaces and planetary interiors. We will examine how planets are explored and modelled using theory, experiments and field studies. We will study the essential ingredients for life on planets and strategies to search for life beyond Earth.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Explain, in scientific terms, the astronomical context of planet formation in our solar system and exoplanetary systems, and the evolution of planetary bodies.
  2. Recognise key visual aspects of planets and exoplanets through observations.
  3. Apply data and approaches used on Earth (e.g., experimental data and field analog sites) to other planetary bodies.
  4. Demonstrate laboratory skills through a range of modules requiring, for example, models of orbital dynamics, descriptions of rocks from the solar system, and crater counting methodology for Mars and Moon.
  5. Critically evaluate a planetary science topic

Research-Led Teaching

This course will introduce you to real world problems and give you the opportunity to figure out strategies for solving them. Some tutorial sessions will involve in-class and hands-on work. Some laboratories will allow you to create new knowledge. The research poster will provide you with the opportunity to learn about the cutting-edge research going on in planetary sciences. You will have the opportunity to review other students' posters and to present your research poster in an oral presentation- both skills are required in research.

Field Trips

Please see the trip information page for more information.

Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

Foreign language dictionary with permission of the convenor.

Required Resources

McSween, Jr, H., Moersch, J., Burr, D., Dunne, W., Emery, J., Kah, L., & McCanta, M. (2019). Planetary Geoscience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316535769; https://www.cambridge.org/au/academic/subjects/earth-and-environmental-science/planetary-science-and-astrobiology/planetary-geoscience?format=AR

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 (on assessment items and via Wattle)
  • Verbal comments (in the classroom, lab, and via Wattle)
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, and in some cases focus groups (in person and via Wattle)

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.

Other Information

Please note, that where there are multiple assessment tasks of the same type, e.g. tutorial assignments, a date range is used in the Assessment Summary. The first date is the approximate due date of the first task, the return date is the approximate return date for the final task. Further information is provided in the assessment section of the class summary, and details are provided on the course wattle site.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Solar System & Exploration Seek approval for research poster topic
2 Big Bang, Galaxies, Stars, Elements & Isotopes [Peer–reviewers for research topic assigned] Field trip to Stromlo (Thurs evening)
3 Accretion, Planetary Motions, Satellite Systems & Migration Lab Wk 2 due (Tues 23.59)
4 Planetary Formation, Meteorites, Minerals & Compositions Field trip in Canberra region (Sat) Lab Wk 3 due (Tues 23.59)
5 Planetary Interiors, Tectonics, Volcanism Lab Wk 4 due (Tues 23.59)
6 Planetary Surfaces - Ice, Sediments, Regolith & Thermal Inertia Test #1 (Mon Tutorial) Lab Wk 5 due (Tues 23.59)
7 Impact Cratering, Water & Fluvial Processes Authors submit poster to peer reviewers, Mon 23.59 Lab Wk 6 due (Tues 23.59) Field trip to impact gun (UNSW-Cbr during lab)
8 Planetary Atmospheres & Habitable Planets Peer reviewers return the review to authors, Mon 23.59] Lab Wk 7 due (Tues 23.59)
9 Life, Organic Matter Lab Wk 8 due (Tues 23.59)
10 Evolution of Life on Earth & Searching for Life Final research poster & poster peer reviews due (Mon 23.59) Lab Wk 9 due (Tues 23.59)
11 Missions to the Moon & Mars, Careers in Space Science Lab Wk 10 due (Tues 23.59)
12 Research Presentations Test #2 (Mon Tutorial) Research poster presentation Presentation peer reviews due (Fri 23.59)

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Tests 40 % 1-5
Research Poster & Presentation 25 % 1, 2, 5
Peer-review of other students' posters and peer-review of student research presentations 10 % 1, 2, 5
Labs 25 % 3, 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 ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

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 is expected in the laboratories (assessment item 4), poster (assessment items 2) and in peer-review items (assessment item 3). Students who cannot come to ANU will be able to participate remotely via either Zoom (live video conferencing) and/or videos.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1-5


WHAT: Two tests throughout the semester (20% each)

PURPOSE: To help students to build on concepts throughout the course.

GRADING: These are short-answer and multiple choice questions that will be given % for each question.

Short-answer questions will be graded based on completeness and quality of the answer.

WHEN: In the Monday tutorial in Week 6 and 12.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 5

Research Poster & Presentation

WHAT: (1) A0 size poster with text, figures & tables to illustrate points (including at least one figure prepared by the student), plus a reference list. Written response to peer-review. (20%) (2) Less than 5 min oral presentation in class with 1 min questions. (5%)

PURPOSE: Finding & synthesising recent, high quality literature on a topic. Writing a set piece with clarity for an educated reader. Evaluating & preparing figures/tables to illustrate points. Responding to peer-review of your work. Verbally presenting a research topic using a poster.


(1) Poster: Marked based upon the content (introduction, literature review, synthesis, discussion), figures and/or tables, clarity & organization, grammar & spelling, response to peer-reviewer’s suggestions, & references. (20%)

(2) Presentation: Assessed based upon structure & content, use and quality of visual aids, attributes of speaker, audience interaction, and response to questions. (5%)


Poster, peer-reviews & response to peer-reviewers is due in Week 10, Monday 23.59. Poster presentations take place in Week 12.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 5

Peer-review of other students' posters and peer-review of student research presentations

WHAT: Written evaluation of two other students' poster to include constructive feedback. Evaluation of 60% the poster presentations by other students’ in the class.

PURPOSE: Providing constructive feedback to peers and learning about other students' research.

GRADING: Assessed based on: 1) Depth of understanding revealed in the comments; and 2) Constructive nature of the comments. 5% on reviews of 3 written posters + 5% on review of 60% of class poster presentations.

DUE DATES FOR PEERS: Authors submit poster to peer reviews in Wk 7 Mon 23:59. Peer reviewers return the reviews to authors Wk 8 Mon 23.59.

DUE DATES FOR GRADING: The peer-review of 3 written posters is handed in at the same time as the final posters - Week 10, Monday 23.59. Peer-review of other students' research presentations (60% of the class) takes place in Week 12 ultimately due in Week 12, Friday 23.59.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 3, 4, 5


WHAT: Submit 8 labs completed throughout the semester, 6 graded.

PURPOSE: Applying knowledge to problems, undertaking data collection and consolidating knowledge on planetary science and applying it to new situations.

GRADING: Marked based on the completeness and quality of the answer. Marks for each question are given in each lab. Best 5 labs go towards 25% of the grade.

DUE DATES: Students will undertake 10 labs throughout the semester.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community 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 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 University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

All assessment items will need to be submitted via Wattle as a PDF file.

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


Late Submission

Late submission permitted. 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

Staff will make their best efforts to give students feedback on assessment items (online) within two weeks of submission.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions 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.

Resubmission of Assignments

Assignments can only be resubmitted in exceptional circumstances by emailing the course convenor within 5 working days of the return of the assignment.

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).
Penny King

Research Interests

Geochemistry, petrology, volcanology, spectroscopy, planetary science

Penny King

Monday 13:00 14:00
By Appointment
Penny King
612 58321

Research Interests

Penny King

Monday 13:00 14:00
By Appointment
Catherine Wilsbacher

Research Interests

Catherine Wilsbacher

By Appointment

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