Timetrek: the natural history of the world


This course provides a basic education in the new field of astrobiology.

Astrobiology provides a multi-disciplinal approach, using the tools of all natural sciences, to address the basic questions related to the prerequisites, existence, origins, occurrence, evolution, as well as the foreseeable future of life in the universe.

This field is strongly promoted by the different space agencies in the world (such a NASA, ESA, JAXA) and it is also taught at least on basic level in most of the large Universities in USA and Europe.

So far, no examples are known of any other planets that would host life, except for our Earth. Therefore the history of planet Earth and its biosphere are presented here as the study case, and an example, to describe a habitable planet, origin and the evolution of a biosphere, throughout the times.

The course also presents the current search for the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms.

Date: 9th of August to 20th of August 2021.

Place: If the covid-19 pandemia will prevent student travel or assembly on site, the course will be arranged on-line.

Credits: 5 ECTS

Price: 75€

Application: by 12.4.2021 via online form

Short description

The students will learn the basics of astrobiology and the structure of the Universe. They will learn the most important developmental stages of the world, their physical and chemical characteristics, regulatory interactions, causes and consequences, the prerequisites of the existence on life in the Universe or on a given planet, and the habitability parameters of planets.


The student will have a good understanding of the

  • History of the Universe
  • Formation of the planetary systems and particularly of the Earth
  • Proposed scenarios for the origin of life
  • Principles of evolution, the terrestrial conditions that have driven Evolution on Earth
  • Major stages of the evolution of terrestrial evolution
  • Rise and consequence of the technical civilization


1) Evolutionary stages of the Universe and its guiding parameters and natural laws,

2) The universal preconditions of the existence of life,

3) Prerequisites of life in the world. Planetary habitability,

4) Formation of the Earth and the Moon, conditions on the young Earth, development of the geological conditions,

5) Origin of life, and early biosphere,

6) Life evolves, and alters the global conditions,

7) The atmospheres and climates,

8) Evolution of higher life forms,

9) Other habitable bodies in the solar system, exoplanets, SETI

10) Views of the future space travel, habitation and technology

Target audience

Graduate students with a Bachelor’s degree in some of the natural sciences.


Lectures, seminar/group work, project presentations.

Student work load

Lectures (27h), seminar discussions + short presentation of group work (8 h), excursions to the Tuorla observatory and planetarium, visit to the botanical gardens in Ruissalo.
Timetrek walk in Ruissalo


Project seminar on pass/fail basis.

Lecture materials: tested by exam on scale 0 -5 (0=fail –  5=excellent)

Assessment criteria

Project seminar: Depth of discussion.
Lecture exam: demonstrated knowledge and understanding

Learning materials

Literature: A web book by Prof. emer. Norman Sleep: https://gp25.stanford.edu/web-book


minimum: a completed Bachelor’s degree in any field of science. A motivation letter written in English explaining why the student is interested in the course

Number of students: max 25