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PHY1021 : Introductory Astrophysics

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • 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.

Description: Since the beginning of human inquiry 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 Distances
-Newtons Law of Gravitation
-Kepler's Laws and Orbits
-Light (Blackbody Radiation, Spectra)
2. Planetary Systems
-Solar System Formation
-Solar System Inventory
-Planetary Atmospheres
3. Stars
-The Sun
-Stellar Structure and Evolution
-End States of Stellar Evolution
4. Galaxies and Large Scale Structure
-Galactic Evolution
-Dark Matter
-The Big Bang

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Unseen exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Formal lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture26:0012:00Preparation for class test
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion21:002:00Class test
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion26:0012:00Preparation of written assignments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Revision lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture41:004:00Problem classes
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:3015:30revision for unseen exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery61:006:00Tutorials in the lecture room
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery120:102:00Office hours
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study117:0017:00Studying, practising and gaining understanding of course material
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study41:004:00Assignment review
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work. Problem Classes are used to help develop the students’ abilities at applying the theory to solving problems. Drop-in's are used to identify and resolve specific queries raised by students and to allow students to receive individual feedback on marked work. In addition office hours will provide an opportunity for more direct contact between individual students and the lecturer: a typical student might spend a total of one or two hours over the course of the module, either individually or as part of a group.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50unseen
Written Examination501M20Class test 1
Written Examination501M20Class test 2
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1M10Peer instruction
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A formal unseen examination is appropriate for the assessment of most material in this module. Two class tests (both 50 minutes, each worth 20%) provide formative as well as summative assessment. Peer instruction assessment will test students’ communication skills.

Reading Lists