Introduction to Astrophysics (F3237)

15 credits, Level 4

Spring teaching

This module aims to explain the contents, dimensions and history of the Universe, primarily at a descriptive level. It applies basic physical laws to the study of the Universe, enabling simple calculations. This module covers:

  • Light: its properties, generation, propagation, detection, and quantification.
  • Astronomical quantities: magnitudes, colours, and celestial coordinate systems.
  • Exploring the Universe: the history of telescopes and detectors, modern observatories (including cosmic ray, neutrinos, and gravitational wave observatories), space probes.
  • Gravity: historical models of the Solar System, orbits, astrodynamics, and tidal forces.
  • The Solar System: the Sun, the inner planets, and the outer planets and the minor bodies.
  • Exoplanets: their detection and characterisation.
  • Stars: their classification, formation, and evolution, stellar populations, and binary star systems.
  • Galaxies: types, distance, formation and structure.
  • Cosmology: dynamics of the Universe, the Big Bang and the cosmic microwave background.


67%: Lecture
33%: Practical (Workshop)


20%: Coursework (Problem set)
80%: Examination (Computer-based examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 44 hours of contact time and about 106 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2021/22. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: