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PHY1021 : Introductory Astrophysics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Danielle Leonard
  • Owning School: Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To understand how we measure properties of astrophysical bodies and to understand the application of basic physical laws to those bodies.

Module Summary: Since the beginning of human enquiry we have wondered what our place in the Universe is and if we're alone. In order to answer these questions the branch of Astrophysics involves observing astronomical bodies and applying physical laws in order to understand them. This requires cutting edge observations across the electromagnetic spectrum as well as application of physics ranging from particle physics to general relativity. This module will introduce a basic understanding of how we observe astrophysical bodies and how we apply physical laws to those bodies in order to ultimately understand the Universe.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Physical Principles
-       Measuring positions and distances
-       Light (blackbody radiation, spectra)
--       Kepler's laws and orbits
2. Stars
-       Stellar structure and evolution
-       End states of stellar evolution
3. Galaxies
-       Galactic classification and morphology
-       Scaling laws
-       Dark matter
4. Cosmology
-       Hubble’s law
-       The cosmological distance ladder

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Completion of final examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion18:008:00Summative problem solving exercises
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Revision Lecture
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study124:0048:00Consolidation of learning and revision
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study102:0020:00Completion of practice problems
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods are appropriate to allow students to develop a wide range of skills, from understanding basic concepts and facts to higher-order thinking.

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work. Lectures will include integrated interactive teaching methods such as think-pair-share questions and worked examples of problems such as would normally occur in a problems class.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A60N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises1M10Problem-solving exercises assessment
Prob solv exercises1M10Problem-solving exercises assessment
Prob solv exercises1M10Problem-solving exercises assessment
Prob solv exercises1M10Problem-solving exercises assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A substantial formal unseen and closed-book examination is appropriate for the assessment of the learning outcomes material in this module. The format of the examination will allow students to reliably demonstrate their own knowledge, understanding and application of learning outcomes. The assurance of academic integrity forms a necessary part of programme accreditation.

Examination problems may require a synthesis of concepts and strategies from different sections, while they may have more than one ways for solution. The examination time allows the students to test different strategies, work out examples and gather evidence for deciding on an effective strategy, while carefully articulating their ideas and explicitly citing the theory they are using.

A coursework assessment is also included for the purpose of supporting learning, providing skills practice, and promoting assessment literacy. In keeping with the University Framework for Assessment Design, this coursework is a lower-stakes summative assessment rather than a formative assessment, in recognition that this is likely to be more beneficial than a formative assessment in encouraging broad student engagement.

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