Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


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.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 elective

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.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) assignments and presentations and (2) final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor David Coward
Incidental fees
Incidental student fees and charges are costs incurred by students as part of their studies at UWA that are in addition to their tuition fees (further information is available here).
Participation in this unit will incur the following incidental fee(s):
(1) Field Trip (estimated cost - 25)
(2) Field Trip (estimated cost - 25).
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.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.