2023-2024 / GEOL0263-1



45h Th

Number of credits

 Master in biology of organisms and ecology (120 ECTS)3 crédits 
 Master in geology (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in space sciences (120 ECTS)5 crédits 


Vincianne Debaille, Véronique Dehant, Emmanuelle Javaux, Yaël Nazé, Annick Wilmotte


Emmanuelle Javaux

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

How does life begin and evolve? Does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? What is life's future on Earth and beyond? These most profound questions are the focus of Astrobiology, the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the Universe, including Earth. Astrobiology is multidisciplinary and closely linked to diverse research topics in astrophysics, molecular biology, biochemistry, prebiotic chemistry, ecology of extremophiles, microbiology, physiology, planetary sciences, geology, palaeontology, space exploration and technology, law, and philosophy.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

This class will provide a general overview of basic knowledge and research developped in astrobiology. Students will have the opportunity to discuss topics of common interest with multidisciplinary points of view through exchanges with teachers and students from various scientific backgrounds.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

1st degree in sciences or Master degree

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

-observation of material (meteorites, rocks, fossils, microorganisms)

-participation to classes, public conferences or podcasts

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Blended learning

Additional information:

This multidisciplinary class is teached by specialists of every topic, from ULiege and outside ULiege. It comprises powerpoint presentations, illustrations with samples, possibly public conferences in the evening.

The course will be in english 

example of content (may vary)

Astrobiology and the Universe

-Introduction to astrobiology (E Javaux, ULiège)
-history of Astrobiology  (Y Nazé, ULiège)

-from the Big Bang to the solar system :  (Y Nazé, ULiège)

What is life? Origins and conditions

-liquid water, necessary condition for life?  (K Bartik, ULB)

-Earth Sciences misconception on the origin and early evolution of life  (E Javaux, ULiège) ; Biological sciences misconceptions on evolution and the origin of life (IAU podcast P Lopez-Garcia, Orsay); the tree of Life (L Eme, IAU podcast Orsay)

Early Earth

-Planet Earth in the Hadean and Archean (IAU podcast H Martin, Clermont-Ferrand)

-Impacts of meteorites in the history of Earth and the solar system  (podcast P Claeys, VUB); classification of meteorites (V Debaille, ULB)

Evolution of life

-the first 3 billions years of life evolution (E. Javaux, ULiège)
-using star light as energy: phototrophy (P Cardol, ULiege)

Biodiversity and phylogeny

-molecular phylogeny and microbial diversity (A Wilmotte, ULiège)
-extremophiles : definition and examples (A Wilmotte, ULiège)

Habitability of the solar system: focus on Mars missions

-planetary habitability in the solar system and ongoing space missions (INSIGHT, LARA..) (V Dehant, ROB/UCL)

-planetary atmospheres-mission EXOMARS TGO-(AC Vandaele, BIRA)
-the search for life on Mars: ESA Exomars Rosalind rover and NASA Mars 2020 (E. Javaux, Uliège)


-Techniques of exoplanets detection and study  (Y Nazé, ULiège)
-The exoplanetary system of TRAPPIST-1 (M Gillon, ULiege)


Philosophical and Ethical issues in Astrobiology

-Ethical issues in Astrobiology (Jacques Arnould, CNES, IAU podcast)

-History and Philosophy of biosignatures (David Duner, Lund University, IAU podcast)

Recommended or required readings

online powerpoint presentations, podcasts, and books to consult in prof E Javaux' office


All these documents are made available exclusively for a strictly personal and private use, and shall not be shared with a third party. If a student wants to record a lesson, he/she must ask for the teacher's authorization and sign the adequate copyright form (which also requires non-sharing).

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

course in english, face to face or online, during the second semester, on thursdays (9 to 12 AM and 14 to 17 PM)


Coordinator : Prof Emmanuelle Javaux 
04 366 5422

Association of one or more MOOCs

Items online

2nd module Course Microbial diversity
Microbial diversity and methods to study it




Biodiversity and phylogeny-1
Bases of molecular Genetics

How to generate genetic diversity?

Phylogenetic analyses



Extremophilic microorganisms
Definitions and examples