Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has acquired a deep knowledge of the chemistry occurring in space in connection with the formation of prebiotic molecules, as well as the principles the techniques for the discovery of molecules in space and the theories at the basis of the origin of life on Earth.

Course contents

Introductive concepts.

What is Astrobiology? The life cycle of a star: the interstellar medium, stars formation regions and formation of a planetary system. Molecules in space: their role and importance, chemical complexity and evolution.

The theories of the origin of life.

Endogeneous synthesis: Abiogenesis and Miller-Urey experiment. Titan as a primordial Earth. Exogeneous delivery: prebiotic chemistry in space, complex organic molecules and cometary/meteoritic bombardment.

Origin of life on Earth.

The RNA-World hypothesis. Chemical interactions among organics, water, and minerals. Evolution of early atmosphere.



Lecture notes and projected slides play a fundamental role. These are available on the institutional-online repository for didactic material (Virtuale).

For further information, the followings text books are recommended:

1) Astrobiology (From the Origins of Life to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).  A. Yamagishi, T. Kakegawa, T. Usui (Editors). Springer (https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-13-3639-3)

2) Astrochemistry: from Astronomy to Astrobiology. A.M. Shaw. Wiley (https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Astrochemistry:+From+Astronomy+to+Astrobiology-p-9780470091364)

3) Introduction to Astrochemistry (Chemical Evolution from Interstellar Clouds to Star and Planet Formation). S. Yamamoto. Springer (https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-4-431-54171-4)


Teaching methods

The course consists of two parts. The first part is a theory part and involves oral lectures supported by video-projection. The second part involves computational practicals aimed at applying the knowledge acquired in the first part.

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 [https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/health-and-assistance/health-and-safety/online-course-on-health-and-safety-in-study-and-internship-areas] on Health and Safety, online.

Assessment methods

The final examination aims to ascertain the student's acquired skills, and consists of a written exam (report) based on the two parts (theory and lab). The results obtained during the lab practicals should be reported together with a critical discussion based on the theoretical fundamentals.

Teaching tools

1) Lectures supported by projection of slides and literature papers.
2) computational lab praticals (notes will be provided).

Office hours

See the website of Cristina Puzzarini