The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

Course handbook


Symmetry is an organising principle that plays a role, often unrecognised, in a vast range of disciplines, from mathematics and the physical sciences to music, design and the arts. This course aims to introduce students from a variety of disciplines to symmetry and its consequences. While symmetry is associated with beauty, balance and harmony, it is also associated with conservation, stasis and boredom, and on its own symmetry is not enough to explain the richness, diversity and dynamism of the universe. In contrast, the concept of symmetry breaking is associated with transitions and evolution, and linked to self-organisation, emergent behaviour and the appearance of information.

Beyond what is learnt about symmetry and symmetry breaking in this course, it is hoped that the concepts will challenge and change the thinking of students as they approach future subjects in their own disciplines.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Describe the concepts of symmetry and symmetry breaking

2. Explain the consequences of symmetry and symmetry breaking in other disciplines

3. Apply principles of symmetry and symmetry breaking to solve problems in their own discipline


The topics to be covered include:

  1. Symmetry and symmetry breaking: definitions and examples
  2. Consequences of symmetry: order/disorder, information and entropy, self-organisation and emergent behaviour.
  3. Symmetry and symmetry breaking in the arts, sciences, design and architecture.


To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed at least 60 units, chosen from any courses offered by UON.

To enrol in this course students must have successfully completed 60 units.

Assessment items

Quiz: Workshop Quizzes

Written Assignment: Written Assignment

Project: Visual Design Project

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Term Full Term starting in week 1


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Term Full Term