Module – Astrophysics & Planetary Physics

FHEQ Level: Level 6 (Third Year)
Credits: 20
Module Code: tbc
Course Reference Number (CRN): 60694
Delivery: January Start, Trimester 2 (Short Fat)

Syllabus Outline

• Spectral classification of stars; The Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram
• Astronomical Spectroscopy
• Stellar spectra
• Stellar structure
• Stellar evolution
• Variable stars; pulsating stars; cataclysmic variable stars – novae & supernovae
• Element abundances in stars
• Galaxies
• Cosmology
• Planetary formation
• Planetary motion
• Planetary structure


Coursework: Assignment, 50%
Written: Examination, 2 hours, 50%
More detailed information may be found in the Assessments section.


Universe, R Freedman, R Geller and WJ Kaufmann (2019) Macmillan

Planetary Sciences, I de Pater and J J Lissauer (2015) CUP

Further updates and supplementary texts may be found in the University Reading Lists system.


You will learn about the evolution of the universe, the structure and evolution of stars and galaxies and fundamental ideas in cosmology. In the planetary physics elements you will learn about planetary formation, structure and the properties of matter under extreme conditions as found in the interior of planets. The module is taught by a combination of lectures and problem solving tutorials.


1. To develop a knowledge and critical understanding in the areas of Astrophysics and Planetary Physics including the origin and limitations of the associated laws.
2. To develop a knowledge and critical understanding of mathematical techniques associated with Astrophysics and Planetary Physics.
3. To develop analytical, numerical and computer based problem solving skills in the areas of Astrophysics and Planetary Physics.

Knowledge & Understanding

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the laws and their origins in the areas of Astrophysics and planetary physics.
2. Demonstrate competence in the specification of problems using the laws of physics applied to astrophysics and planetary physics and their analytical and numerical solution.
3. Demonstrate communication through written material.

Learning, Teaching and Assessment

The module is taught through a combination of lectures and tutorial classes.

Interactive tutorial classes will prepare students for assessments through a series of problem-solving exercises with associated formative feedback.

Assignment – An extended problem-solving exercise requiring a description and justification of methodology used together with the use of analytical and computational means to provide final solutions and a critical evaluation of the solution obtained.

Exam – A series of questions demonstrating an understanding of the topic together with application to straightforward problems that can be solved using analytical means.