Planetary Science Admission criteria

 

Ph.D. candidate Marianne Mader giving a presentation about the Sudbury Impact structure while on a field trip as part of the impact cratering course. Image credit: Elizabeth Silber.

The Collaborative Graduate Program in Planetary Science welcomes applications from all potential students, but those with a demonstrated interest in planetary science and exploration as indicated by prior course work, research or involvement in space-related student groups will be given preferential consideration. In all cases the normal admission criteria appropriate to each home department program will apply.

To apply to the Graduate Program in Planetary Science, prospective students must first apply to the graduate program in their department of interest and then specify planetary science. The application process and requirements to different departments vary, so you are encouraged to explore the graduate pages of your department of interest (listed below), and Western’s School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Please note that enrollment in the Collaborative Graduate Program in Planetary Science is currently restricted to students enrolled in one of the graduate programs offered through the Department of Earth Sciences or the Department of Physics and Astronomy, however students from other programs may enroll in Planetary Science classes, and may unofficially participate in the program. Additional host programs through several other departments are expected to officially join the Planetary Science program in late 2015.

Earth Sciences Graduate Program

Physics & Astronomy Graduate Program

M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Planetary Sciences awarded by Western are distinguished by the discipline of the candidate’s host Program, i.e. Ph.D. in Geophysics (Planetary Science).

 

Planetary Science Degree Requirements

 

Program requirements- M.Sc.

 

In addition to the thesis and additional courses that may be required by the graduate program of the home department, all Master’s students in the Collaborative Graduate Program in Planetary Science are required to participate in the following courses and activities:

  1. Planetary Science Short Course, PLANETSC 9603. This intensive, week-long course provides incoming students with the background they need to place their specific research project in the wider Planetary Science field.
  2. Participation in the Planetary Science Seminar. The Seminar is a milestone (pass/fail based on attendance), and runs weekly during the fall term of each year.
  3. Presentation of research, either orally or as a poster, at the Annual Graduate Planetary Science & Exploration Research Day (Space Day). This will be attended by members of the student’s advisory committee and will constitute one part of an advisory committee meeting.
  4. Attendance at the weekly CPSX Research Forum, and MSc and PhD defence lectures of fellow students.
  5. Research thesis undertaken according to regulations in the home program, but the research topic must be within the core Research Themes of CPSX.

 

Program requirements- Ph.D.

 

In addition to the thesis, comprehensive exam, and additional courses that may be required by the graduate program of the home department, all Doctoral students in the Collaborative Graduate Program in Planetary Science will be required to participate in the following courses and activities:

  1. Planetary Science Short Course, PLANETSC 9603 (if not taken previously). This intensive, week-long course provides incoming students with the background they need to place their specific research project in the wider Planetary Science field.
  2. One additional half-course in Planetary Science (PLANETSC) at the 9000-level or higher. This may be taken in addition to the requirements in the home department OR as a single substitution of the requirements of the home department at the discretion of the advisory committee and the departmental graduate program.
  3. Participation in the Planetary Science Seminar. The Seminar is a milestone (pass/fail based on attendance), and runs weekly during the fall term of each year.
  4. Presentation of research, either orally or as a poster, at the Annual Graduate Planetary Science & Exploration Research Day (Space Day). This will be attended by members of the student’s advisory committee and will constitute one part of an advisory committee meeting.
  5. Attendance at the weekly CPSX Research Forum, and MSc and PhD defence lectures of fellow students.
  6. Research thesis undertaken according to regulations in the home program, but the research topic must be within the core Research Themes of CPSX.

 

 

Program Level Learning Outcomes

 

 

By the end of the PhD program, a successful student will be able to:

Link to Graduate Degree Level Expectation

1. Subject Literacy: Integrate a subset of interdisciplinary knowledge into the student’s own area of expertise within the planetary science and space exploration domain as demonstrated through their research project(s) and thesis 1. Depth and breadth of knowledge
2. Basic knowledge: Devise projects, generate data, and explain results for the purpose of creating new knowledge, working within the context of planetary science and exploration research 2. Research and scholarship
3. Independent thinking: Demonstrate independent thinking by generating and testing an original research question in the field of planetary science and exploration and thereby create new knowledge 2. Research and Scholarship
4. Application of scientific knowledge: Devise an effective procedure(s) to explore a problem related to the field of planetary science and exploration, and deduce a verifiable conclusion 3. Level of application of knowledge
5. Project management: Manage human, material and financial resources by identifying, collecting and organizing materials, equipment, and funds and monitoring resource consumption to successfully complete a research project in planetary science and exploration. 4. Professional capacity/autonomy
6. Ethics: Display a professional commitment to ethical practice on a daily basis by following the guidelines established and recognized by the planetary science and exploration community 4. Professional capacity/autonomy
7. Leadership: Mentor junior researchers by guiding and facilitating their research activities in the fields of planetary science and exploration, modelling ethical practices and expanding their translational communications skills. 4. Professional capacity/autonomy
8. Communications to peers: Explain the rationale, results, and implications of original scientific research in the area of planetary science and exploration to peers through written (e.g. peer-reviewed journal publication(s)) and oral (e.g. conference) communication 5. Level of communications skills
9. Communication to non-experts: Present (orally and in writing) the results and motivation of planetary science and exploration research to the general public so as to explain the social and scientific value of the work. Specifically, the student will be prepared to engage in media interviews representing CPSX, their home department, and Western University, and will produce oral and poster presentations for a lay audience (e.g., Space Day) 5. Level of communications skills
10. Critical Assessment: Critically assess and identify the contribution of their own and others work in the field of planetary science and exploration by evaluating proper application of relevant tools, techniques and the originality of hypothesis, observations and conclusions

 

6. Awareness of limits of knowledge

 By the end of the MSc program, a successful student will be able to:

Link to Graduate Degree Level Expectation

1. Subject Literacy: Analyze information and data related to a specific subject area within the planetary science and exploration domain through the integration of relevant literature and data sets into a specific research product 1. Depth and breadth of knowledge
2. Interdisciplinary Literacy: Evaluate the multidisciplinary context of a specific project by recognizing the significance of its results within the planetary science and exploration community (e.g., through participation in planetary mission simulations) 1. Depth and breadth of knowledge
3. Critical thinking, communication: Formulate a testable research question in the field of planetary science and exploration and communicate this to peers (e.g., through proposal writing, publishing a peer-reviewed journal article) 2. Research and Scholarship
4. Application of scientific knowledge: Solve a problem related to the field of planetary science and exploration through a literature review of theoretical concepts and/or experimentation 3. Level of application of knowledge
5. Critical Thinking: Acquire and critically evaluate data and information by answering fundamental scientific questions in the area of planetary science and exploration 3. Level of application of knowledge
6. Project management: Apply project management theory and practices in planetary science and exploration research by implementing a plan incorporating the management of project materials, and self 4. Professional capacity/autonomy
7. Ethics: Display a professional commitment to ethical practice on a daily basis by following the guidelines established and recognized by the planetary science and exploration community 4. Professional capacity/autonomy
8. Communications to peers: Clearly communicate and explain the significance of their research to peers in disciplines related to planetary science and exploration, and to a broader technical audience. Specifically, the student will be expected to produce written reports and oral presentations that substantiate their research with technical, scientific, or engineering arguments 5. Level of communications skills
9. Communication to non-experts: Translate technical planetary science and exploration information into lay communication both in oral and in written forms to ensure accessibility and understanding for a lay audience. Specifically, the student will be expected to  produce oral and poster presentations and/or deliver seminars and /or workshops supporting science outreach to non-technical audiences (e.g. Space Day) 5. Level of communications skills
10. Critical Assessment: Demonstrate awareness of the complexity of knowledge within the broad field of planetary science and exploration, and of the potential contributions of other interpretations, methods, and disciplines through the literature review component of the thesis 6. Awareness of limits of knowledge


The 2010 impact cratering class on a field trip to the Sudbury Impact Structure led by Dr Gordon Osinski. Image Credit: Elizabeth Silber.

Anna Chanou (MSc student):
"I joined the CPSX to be part of a diverse group of planetary scientists (enthusiasts), for the opportunities that being a member offers, and for the vibrant educational outreach program."