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University of Leeds

Atmospheric Chemistry: Planets and Life Beyond Earth

University of Leeds via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


Discover the extraordinary world of atmospheric chemistry.

On this course you will learn about planetary atmospheres across our solar system and beyond. You will discover what an atmosphere is, how it’s formed, and how data collected from space missions is used to determine a planet’s atmosphere.

You’ll also look into the factors needed to support life, explore the possibility of life beyond Earth and start the search for habitable planets. You’ll understand how atmospheric chemistry is communicated in the media and get a flavour of one of the most fascinating subjects explored during an undergraduate degree in Chemistry.

This course has been ranked as one of the best online courses of all time by online course aggregator class central.

The course is for anyone with a general interest in atmospheric chemistry but it will be particularly useful for students at schools and colleges who want to study chemistry at university. The course is part of the Going to University collection and completing it can help improve your university application by broadening your chemistry knowledge and developing your independent learning skills. The course can also be used as a teachers’ classroom enrichment resource.


  • Exploring planets in our solar system
    • Welcome
    • Atmospheres of planets in our solar system
    • Active and Passive exploration missions
    • Cassini-Huygens Case Study
    • Summary
  • The search for life on other planets
    • About Week 2
    • Factors needed to support life
    • The search for life beyond the solar system
    • Hold the front page
    • Summary

Taught by

Julia Lehman


4.7 rating, based on 52 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 107 ratings

Start your review of Atmospheric Chemistry: Planets and Life Beyond Earth

  • Anonymous
    I very much enjoyed this class, it introduced to me a field of study and concepts not part of my college degree courses. It was fascinating in that I could grasp the concepts and very much enjoyed the graphics and visuals. I especially enjoyed the interactive map of the observatories, and the opportunity to do research projects and share them with other participants and learn from the posted projects of others. I understand from viewing other student reviews and comments this class was enjoyed by students of many levels of expertise. Thank you for this opportunity to learn.
  • Anonymous
    I found this course excellent especially so for those who intend to take degrees in this or similar subjects. I was interested in the course only and found it fascinating and really stretched the mind. I have a new understanding of researching well known scientific sites and questioning everything I read, confirming with other sites.

    Thank you Future Learn - I have been doing your courses for years now and cannot wait to start the next one. Thanks to all the educators and staff. A wonderful place of teaching and learning.
  • Anonymous
    Although I have taken courses with future lear in the past, I have recently retired and will be looking to take more courses in the future. I found this course really interesting and engaging throughout.
    One area of the course that could be improved is feedback from the course tutors.
    Having submitted my comment, it would be advantages to have feedback to help and support our development.
  • Anonymous
    The course was so helpful and informative- there were so many activities to do over a whole range of things- from researching the science behind atmospheres to finding out how we observe them using space probes and telescopes.
    Challenging but definitely worth it, thank you so much!
  • Anonymous
    FutureLearn provides the most enjoyable way to learn with all the subjects anyone could wish for. The Atmospheric Chemistry course has been excellent with a large amount of clearly presented and informative lectures. The exercises to research for answers to questions is a wonderful way of learning, and also being guided to authentic and reliable web sites and journals is a big plus. This is one of the best courses I have done so far. Thanks to all the hard working lecturers and the help of other learners.
  • Anonymous
    The course introduces and uses vocabulary that one needs to explore the chemistry of space. It share beautiful photos and lists many websites for further study. The exercises give a glimpse of the kind that might be expected at university.
  • very interesting course. Helps to understand the atmospheric chemistry and the conditions for life as we know it. The explanation is clear and helped me a lot to understand how life started on our own planet.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed the course and learnt a lot from it . It is taken in a manner that at no point we loose our interest . Our regular participation is also encouraged and constant support is also provided.
  • Anonymous
    Un curso muy interesante e importante en el aspecto de la química atmosférica de diversos planetas. Aprendí varios temas nuevos del curso.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent, complete course, very detailed and easy to read. I am very curious, because the scientific subject is similar to my work.
  • Anonymous
    This course was well put together but a motivated learner could have achieved the same knowledge through focussed research from several well known websites. The lack of input from the course leader and lack of instruction was the reason I would only give it three stars.
  • Anonymous
    A great course & introduction to the study of exoplanets, I feel that I now have a better understanding of Planetary atmospherics & some of the issues involved in the search for the alternate life forms.The videos were well presented, I intend to do more study in the future.
  • Profile image for Mamatha Banerjee
    Mamatha Banerjee
    I joined this course because I love space and have wanted to study more on the subject since graduating from College. It's interesting to consider (especially with recent events) that other Terrestrial planets could house life similar to what we have on Earth!
  • Anonymous
    This is great introductory course to understand what Atmospheric Chemistry is all about. the short videos are well presented and has transcripts available to review and revise the content. The course has some great resources and assessments.
  • Anonymous
    A great course that certainly helped me understand the study of exoplanets and the chemical composition of the atmospheres, I personally recommend it as it helps to understand atmospheric chemistry.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course with well presented atmospheric and astronomic information, supported by the scientific research and observations.
  • Anonymous
    Very nice and funny course, gave me some new thoughts and views, interesting Information. Tanks a lot.
  • Anonymous
    This course was stimulating with insightful teachings in many facets. These include planets and their atmospheric make up, star systems, exploration (space craft and observation technologies), and the use of reliable research tools.
    I would recommend this course for anyone with an interest or background in Astronomy or Earth Sciences.
    To get the most out of the course all steps are to be completed. Where possible use latest technology to compliment with available course tools.
  • Anonymous
    This was a well presented course, but in common with many courses, lacks live input from an academic team. This is not a criticism, but a statement of fact; FL is constrained by responses to the effects of restrictions due to the COVID19 pandemic on the one hand, and increased interest from Learners on the other. I think it meets its targets on all fronts - interesting to the curious mind, and a good preparation for those about to start out on their academic adventure.
  • Anonymous
    This class is absolutely fascinating! I admit I was a little worried it was going to be too advanced for me, but it's not. Julia does a fabulous job breaking down the information so everyone can understand, even if you don't know a lot of Chemistry. Which is the sign of an excellent educator. She also manages to keep it from being boring. I really hope to take more classes with her as the Professor. Thank you so much for a great class.

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