last updated 7/27/16



Professor Karen Kwitter
Office: 110 TPL; Office Hours: Mondays 10-11 AM, and by appointment
Extension: 2272

Text & Other Resources


Life in the Universe (LIU), 4/e, (2017), by Bennett & Shostak available at Water Street Books. I may distribute handouts, URLs and point to other reading as necessary.

Other Required Reading in:

  • Astrobiology, a professional journal about all aspects of the topic

Other Useful Resources:

  • Eric Chaisson’s Cosmic Evolution website, which is comprehensive (CE)
  • The Living Cosmos, by Chris Impey, available as an e-book from Schow
  • Life Beyond Earth by Coustenis and Encrenaz, available as an e-book from Schow (a very good, readable general reference)
  • An Introduction to Astrobiology, edited by Rothery et al., on reserve in Schow

Links & Applets page has been assembled for this class. You will find this a very valuable resource!

NOTE: This course is reading-heavy! There is a lot of material to cover for each week’s topic, and you are expected to have read it. It is your responsibility to seek help when you need it; you should feel free to see me with any questions.

Course Requirements and Grading

A. Each student will present five papers in tutorial session, and will respond to five papers.

Papers: Submitted papers should be no fewer than five (unless otherwise directed) double-spaced, single-sided, numbered, pages with standard margins. Bibliographies (required) plus tables and figures (optional, but encouraged) do not count in the page total. Papers should be carefully proofread for spelling, grammar and punctuation, which will be factored into the grade. Citations should be in the format of the Chicago Manual of Style. I will offer feedback on the writing as well as on the content of each paper, and will especially look for improvement in the former. E-mailed pdf versions of papers are due both to me and to your tutorial partner no later than 24 hours before your scheduled tutorial session. Presenters may use PowerPoint from their laptops during their paper presentations.

Responses: Response papers from the student not presenting can be in either text or outline form. The responder should bring paper copies for me and for the presenter to the tutorial session. Responses should demonstrate not only that you have read the assigned material, but that you have read your partner’s paper and understand the arguments presented.

B. Homework: There will usually be homework problems to be handed in by each partner and discussed in tutorial sessions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Attendance at all of your tutorial sessions is mandatory. Unexcused absences will result in a grade penalty.

The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:

  • Quality of written papers: 25%
  • Quality of presentations: 25%
  • Quality of responses to partner’s papers and presentations: 20%
  • Homework: 20%
  • Growth in understanding and improvement in writing during the course: 10%


Tutorial meetings will be arranged according to student pairing and availability. I reserve the right to make changes in pairings during the semester.

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