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Super-Earths and Life

Harvard University via edX

5 Reviews 2534 students interested
Found in Astronomy
  • Provider edX
  • Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session Self Paced
  • Language English
  • Effort 3-5 hours a week
  • Start Date
  • Duration 15 weeks long
  • Learn more about MOOCs

Taken this course? Share your experience with other students. Write review


Super-Earths And Life is a course about life on Earth, alien life, how we search for life outside of Earth, and what this teaches us about our place in the universe.

In the past decade astronomers have made incredible advances in the discovery of planets outside our solar system. Thirty years ago, we knew only of the planets in our own solar system. Now we know of thousands circling nearby stars.

Meanwhile, biologists have gained a strong understanding of how life evolved on our own planet, all the way back to the earliest cells. We can describe how simple molecules can assemble themselves into the building blocks of life, and how those building blocks might have become the cells that make up our bodies today.

Super-Earths And Life is all about how these fields, astronomy and biology, together with geology, can help answer one of our most powerful and primal questions: are we alone in the universe?

HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code: HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.

HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement: to learn more.

Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact and/or report your experience through the edX contact form:


This course consists of seven modules, which investigate questions like:
  • What is life? How did it arise? How does it change over time?
  • What is a planet?
  • How do we find and learn about planets outside our solar system?
  • How has the Earth changed over time? What do these changes mean for the evolution and survival of living things?
  • How do geological processes shape planets? How do these processes contribute to life?
  • How many habitable planets are there?
  • How can we search for life?

Taught by

Dimitar Sasselov and Colin Fredericks

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Reviews for edX's Super-Earths and Life
4.4 Based on 5 reviews

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  • 4 star 20%
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  • 1
Kristina Š
4.0 6 months ago
by Kristina completed this course and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I have been a community TA for this course, but I'll try not to be biased. This course is a nice introduction to astrobiology and life itself - so if you have no scientific background, you'll still be able to get by. The forums were bursting with discussions, so I believe everybody could have find the way to be successful in this course, no matter the background. This course was much more text-oriented rather than video oriented, so this is its major flaw. The texts were great and informative, with lots of interactive visualizations, but e-courses tend to focus on videos as lectures which enga…
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 5 years ago
Anonymous completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The first offering of the 'Super-Earths and Life' course was pretty good. Although the course doesn't have many video lectures and relies primarily on text and animations for teaching, an interested student will find the content to be good and informative.

Colin Fredricks, one of the instructors of this course, was really helpful and active on the forums. The quiz questions are good and even when they were easy, they forced me to think outside the box and informed me about stuff that I didn't know before. Overall, this is a good introductory course that teaches Astrobiology and Astronomy in a broad perspective.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Erasmia B
3.0 4 years ago
by Erasmia completed this course.
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Shane R
5.0 3 years ago
by Shane completed this course.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Datcu O
5.0 4 years ago
by Datcu is taking this course right now.
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  • 1

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