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This document contains rules for MATH1042 and PHIL2042 in 2017. (The rules are mostly the same for the two courses. See below for details of the differences.) Please read this carefully.

For more information about the course, including the course syllabus and readings, please see the course web site at

This course aims at providing a conceptual understanding of some of the many faces of the Universe. General issues relating to the nature of mathematics and science, of space and time, and of the universe as a whole will be discussed. The course will be divided into the following sections: History of Astronomy; The Structure of the Universe; The Geometry of Space-Time, including Special and General Relativity; Cosmology and the Arrow of Time; Quantum Mechanics; the Anthropic Principle; and Extra-Terrestrial Life. The various sections will be introduced in a historical context emphasising the evolution of thought leading to current understanding.

Course code: MATH1042 / PHIL2042
Convenor: Jason Grossman (0478 297 911,
Lecturers: Jason Grossman and Dayal Wickramasinghe
Tutor: Jason Grossman

Course website

Mode of delivery

lectures and tutorials


36 hours of lectures and 10 hours of tutorials, plus continuous revision, readings, and weekly assessment tasks.

Learning outcomes

  • An understanding in outline of the history of cosmology, and of contemporary cosmology.

  • A conceptual understanding of relativity theory and quantum mechanics.

  • An appreciation that many of the theories underlying modern cosmology are contentious.

  • An understanding of what would be involved in further study in philosophy of science, and in cosmology.

  • A habit of educated questioning of scientific orthodoxy.

Course schedule


Assessment details

Each of the following five components of assessment is compulsory. Work submitted late will not be marked, unless an extension has been both requested and approved before the submission deadline.

  1. Two multiple-choice questions per tutorial, each worth 1% of the overall mark for the course (so that in total the multiple choice questions are worth 20% of the overall mark for the course).

  2. A 600-word written assignment worth 15% of the overall mark for the course, on a topic handed out in class;
    assignment task distributed on Wednesday 15 March; due by 4 pm on Friday 24 March.

  3. A second 600-word written assignment worth 15% of the overall mark for the course, on a topic handed out in class;
    assignment task distributed on Wednesday 29 March; due by midnight on Friday 7 April.

  4. One 1,500-word essay (MATH1042 students) or one 3,000-word essay (PHIL2042 students) worth 35% of the overall mark for the course,
    on a choice of topics selected from those handed out in class;
    assignment task distributed on Friday 12 May; due by midnight on Monday 12 June.

  5. Participation in tutorials and on the web discussion board (during the teaching period), worth 15% of the overall mark for the course, assessed by the tutors according to the following categories:

    — make less than 2 worthwhile contributions to tutorials or the discussion board: 0% for the participation component

    — make at least 2 worthwhile contributions to tutorials or the discussion board: 50% for the participation component (adding 7.5% to the overall course mark)

    — make worthwhile contributions to several tutorials or several worthwhile discussion board postings: 70% for the participation component (adding 10.5% to the overall course mark)

    — make original and outstanding contributions to several tutorials or the discussion board: 80-100% for the participation component (adding 12-15% to the overall course mark)

All students are expected to earn participation marks by contributing to the tutorials. There are no participation marks for merely attending tutorials. Marks for participation on the web discussion board are combined with the tutorial marks to make up the overall participation mark. Participation on the web discussion board is not compulsory, and it is possible (although more difficult) for a student to obtain the maximum participation mark without using the web discussion board.

Prescribed text

Readings available on Wattle, and additional readings recommended on the web site and/or in lectures.

Proscribed text


Generic skills

This course aims to develop the generic skills of critical thinking, verbal discussion and iconoclasm.

Important ANU information

The 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. You can find the university’s education policies and an explanatory glossary at: Students are expected to have read the Student Academic Integrity Policy before the commencement of their course.

The University offers a number of support services for students. Information on these is available online from

In particular, for assistance with assignment writing and completion, visit the Academic Skills and Learning Centre:

ANU Library: See

ANU Counselling Centre: The ANU offers a free and confidential counselling service to all current ANU students and staff. See

ANUSA: The Australian National University Students' Association (ANUSA) is the representative body of undergraduate students on campus. If you're an undergraduate student at ANU, then you're an ANUSA member. ANUSA consists of a number of elected students. They present student issues to the University Council, to Faculty Boards and on other official committees. ANUSA also represents student issues outside the campus, organises social events and provides some student services which are not otherwise provided by the University. See

More links to university policies and to helpful university services are in the block called "2017 important information" on the Wattle site for this course.

[Edited on 2017-03-14: changed 11 tutorials to 10 tutorials because semesters are shorter now.]