SCIE1121 Our Universe

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Science students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 1 elective
For countless millennia people have yearned to understand our place in the universe. Cultures have asked deep questions—what is space, what is time, what are the secrets of the universe? The unity of the human yearning to understand our place in the universe is expressed in rich diversity of beliefs. This unit takes students from traditional beliefs across all cultures (with particular focus on the rich Australian Aboriginal cultural traditions) to modern discoveries about the nature of space and time, and the structure and origin of the universe. The unit begins by contrasting traditional knowledge systems with the scientific methods of scepticism and logic. Then it explores numbers and geometry, and takes them on the conceptual leap from Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics to modern Einsteinian physics. The second part of the unit explores the unfolding scientific story of the universe that has been revealed since the discovery of the telescope. Students discover the awesome scale and the structure of the universe, and the extraordinary processes that take us from the Big Bang to planet Earth. The unit focuses particularly on the mysteries of the universe and the boundaries of knowledge.
Students are able to (1) have an understanding of the unity of the human quest to understand our place in the universe and the diversity of cultural explanations; (2) compare and contrast two different cultural perspectives on our place in the universe, its origins and its significance; (3) understand how the development of mathematics, scientific method and scientific tools have provided a detailed understanding of the scale, the history and the evolution of the universe; (4) have a conceptual understanding and familiarity with the numerical scale of the universe in space and time; and (5) gather information about the universe and present it with clarity and depth of understanding.
Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) assignments; (2) presentations; and (3) a final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Linqing Wen
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; oral presentation sessions; and field trips
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.