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.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

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.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. 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: