• Class Number 2859
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Phil Dowe
    • Prof Dayal Wickramasinghe
    • Peter Swanton
    • Prof Phil Dowe
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 All lectures in this course are pre-recorded and available on Echo, accessible via Wattle. Lectures will be uploaded the previous Friday morning, for the following topic. (PD= Phil Dowe, DW= Dayal Wickramasinghe, PS=Peter Swanton)
Available before Semester:Welcome to Philosophy of the Cosmos
Week 1 Lectures:1. Australian Indigenous Astronomy (PS)2. Philosophy of Astronomy I: The Harmony of the Spheres. (PD)
2 Lectures:1. History of Astronomy I: Pre-Copernican History (DW)2. Philosophy of Astronomy II: Theory and Observation (PD)
3 Lectures:1. History of Astronomy II: Our Sun in the Universe of Stars (DW)2. Philosophy of Astronomy III: Realism and Instrumentalism (PD)
4 Lectures:1. History of Astronomy III: The Expanding Universe (DW)2. Space and Time (PD)
5 Lectures:1. History of Astronomy IV: Big Bang and Steady State Models (DW)2. The Beginning of Time (PD)
6 Lectures:1. Curved Spaces (DW)2. The Edge of Space (PD) MATH1042 Class Essay
7 Lectures:1. Relativity Before Einstein (DW)2. Chirality (PD)
8 Lectures:1. Light Cones (DW)2. Causality (PD)
9 Lectures:1. Relativity According to Einstein I: Special Relativity (DW)2. The Fate of Now I: The Present and The Block Universe (PD)
10 Lectures:1. Relativity According to Einstein II: General Relativity (DW)2. The Fate of Now II: Time Travel (PD)
11 Lectures:1. Cosmological Models (DW)2. The Accelerating Universe (DW)
12 Lectures:1. Dark Philosophy (PD)2. Why Are We Here? (PD) MATH1042 Quiz

Tutorial Registration

Tutorials begin in week 2. All Tutorials are conducted in a classroom on campus at ANU. Signup is via MyTimetable. ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Class Essay 20 % 26/03/2024 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Exam Essay 40 % * 1, 2, 3
Quiz 30 % 23/05/2024 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Tutorial Contributions 10 % * 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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 Essay Exam will be scheduled by University Examination in the official Examination Period but will be administered by MSI. Results are released on Wattle. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, and time of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 26/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Class Essay

  • Length: 800 words
  • Value: 20%
  • Submission: During the tutorial
  • 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: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Exam Essay

  • Length: 1600 words
  • Value: 40%
  • The exam essay will be two hours, scheduled in the University Examination Period in which you answer one question only.
  • This is seen exam (you will already know the question to be asked).
  • This is a closed book exam, except you may bring one A4 page of hand written notes one side only.
  • Essay question(s) will be posted on Wattle three weeks before the exam 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: 30 %
Due Date: 23/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


  • The quiz will be conducted online via Wattle at a specific time in week 12, to be advised.
  • Value: 30%
  • 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 %
Learning Outcomes: 4, 5

Tutorial Contributions

  • Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester.
  • Participation will be graded on the quality of your contributions in tutorials (ie 'workshops') through the semester.
  • Value: 10%
  • Tutorials contributions start in Week 2 and continue until the end of the semester.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

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

Friday 13:00 14:00
Prof Dayal Wickramasinghe

Research Interests

Prof Dayal Wickramasinghe

Peter Swanton

Research Interests

Peter Swanton

Prof Phil Dowe

Research Interests

Prof Phil Dowe

Friday 13:00 14:00

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