PHY1022 Introduction to Astrophysics 2023-24
Dr S. Krijt
Delivery Weeks: T1:01-05,07-12
Level: 4 (NQF)
Credits: 15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
Enrolment: 150 students (approx)


This module will introduce students to the theories of quantum mechanics and special relativity and show how they are used to explain to a wide variety of astrophysical phenomena.

Module Aims

Students will develop a broad knowledge and understanding of the key ideas and language used by modern astronomers to describe and explain the observed Universe.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Syllabus Plan

  1. Introduction
    Brief historical survey.
  2. Quantum Mechanics
    1. Black body radiation
    2. Photoelectric effect
    3. Wave-particle duality
    4. Zero-point motion; vacuum fluctuations
    5. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
  3. Quantum Structure and Spectra of Simple Atoms
    1. Bohr model
    2. Pauli Exclusion Principle
    3. Quantum numbers and Hund's rules
  4. Nuclear Matter and Particle Physics
    1. Spin, Bosons and Fermions
    2. α, β and γ; neutrons and protons
    3. Quarks gluons and the standard model
    4. Feynman Diagrams
  5. The Force of Gravity, Gravitational Potential Energy
    1. The motion of satellites
    2. The motion of the planets
    3. The gravitational sling-shot
    4. Spherical mass distributions
    5. Apparent weight and the Earth's rotation
  6. Stars and Planets
    1. The structure of stars
    2. Neutron stars & white dwarfs
    3. Black holes
    4. Formation of stars and planets
    5. Extra-solar planets
  7. Galaxies
    1. Large-scale structure
    2. Interstellar medium
    3. Redshift
  8. The Universe
    1. Birth
    2. Expansion
    3. Dark matter
    4. Dark energy

Learning and Teaching

Learning Activities and Teaching Methods

Description Study time KIS type
22×1-hour lectures 22 hours SLT
5×6-hour self-study packages 30 hours GIS
7×2-hour problems sets 14 hours GIS
Problems class support 9 hours SLT
Tutorial support 3 hours SLT
Reading, private study and revision 72 hours GIS


Weight Form Size When ILOS assessed Feedback
0% Exercises set by tutor 3×1-hour sets (typical) Scheduled by tutor 1-7 Discussion in tutorials
0% Guided self-study 5×6-hour packages Fortnightly 1-7 Discussion in tutorials
10% 7 × Problems Sets 2 hours per set Weekly 1-7 Marked in problems class, then discussed in tutorials
15% Mid-term Test 1 30 minutes Weeks T1:04 1-7 Marked, then discussed in tutorials
15% Mid-term Test 2 30 minutes Weeks T1:09 1-7 Marked, then discussed in tutorials
60% Final Examination 120 minutes January 1-7 Mark via MyExeter, collective feedback via ELE and solutions.


The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of information that students are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Instructor(s).

Core text:

Supplementary texts:


Further Information

Prior Knowledge Requirements

Pre-requisite Modules none
Co-requisite Modules none


Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.

Original form of assessment Form of re-assessment ILOs re-assessed Time scale for re-assessment
Whole module Written examination (100%) 1-7 August/September assessment period

Notes: See Physics Assessment Conventions.

KIS Data Summary

Learning activities and teaching methods
SLT - scheduled learning & teaching activities 34 hrs
GIS - guided independent study 116 hrs
PLS - placement/study abroad 0 hrs
Total 150 hrs
Summative assessment
Coursework 10%
Written exams 90%
Practical exams 0%
Total 100%


IoP Accreditation Checklist
  • CM-02 Newtonian gravitation, Kepler's laws.
  • QM-01 Black body radiation.
  • QM-02 Photoelectric effect.
  • QM-03 Wave-particle duality.
  • QM-04 Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.
  • QM-09 Quantum structure and spectra of simple atoms.
Availability unrestricted
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; Energy; Matter; Motion; Particle; Planets; Quantum mechanics; Stars; Structure; Universe.
Created 01-Oct-10
Revised N/A