Instant astrobiology courses now possible

A new astrobiology textbook and complementary lectures written by the School's Prof Charles Cockell and published by Wiley-Blackwell will encourage other universities to teach this complex subject.

Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary field that asks profound scientific questions. How did life originate on the Earth? How has life persisted on the Earth for over three billion years? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? What is the future of life on Earth?

AstrobiologyUnderstanding Life in the Universe is an introductory text which explores the structure of living things, the formation of the elements for life in the Universe, the biological and geological history of the Earth and the habitability of other planets in our own Solar System and beyond. The book is designed to convey some of the major conceptual foundations of astrobiology that cut across a diversity of traditional fields including chemistry, biology, geosciences, physics and astronomy. It can be used to complement existing courses in these fields or as a stand-alone text for astrobiology courses. The text book also comes with 21 full lectures on astrobiology, allowing anyone to set up a complete astrobiology course.

"The major stumbling block to new astrobiology courses so far has been the difficulty of gathering all the required information for a very diverse subject and making lectures that match an existing textbook. This has been a barrier to new astrobiology courses around the world. This textbook and accompanying lectures now solves this problem." Charles Cockell, Professor of Astrobiology, School of Physics & Astronomy

The intended audience includes undergraduates studying for degrees in earth or life sciences, physics, astronomy and related disciplines, as well as anyone with an interest in grasping some of the major concepts and ideas in astrobiology.