Origins of Science

Module code: NS1011

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sarah Gretton

In this module you will study basic concepts in astronomy, biology, chemistry, Earth sciences and physics using the context of the emergence of science in Ancient Egypt.

Topics covered

  • Geological Timescales-Extinction events, evolution of the first complex lifeforms, human origins
  • Eons, eras, periods and epochs
  • Evidence for plate tectonics
  • Eight classes of minerals
  • Origins of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks
  • The role of the Nile Valley’s geology in shaping ancient Egyptian culture
  • Location and formation of meanders, oxbow lakes and levees
  • Modern and ancient constellations
  • The celestial sphere and coordinate systems
  • Simple mechanical and kinematic problems
  • Radioactivity
  • The four properties of water which make it a suitable solvent for life
  • Structure and properties of cellular membranes
  • Photosynthesis
  • Structure of an atom
  • Reduction and oxidation processes in terms of the exchange of electrons
  • Differences between ionic compounds and covalent molecules
  • Toxicity of metal ions-physical and/or chemical properties


  • 5 one-hour workshops + 4 two-hour workshops
  • 8 lectures (1-3 hours)
  • 4 two-hour tutorials


  • Exam (35%)
  • Continual Assessment (65%) - including a group report and 4 sets of core learning exercises