PHYC10050 Astronomy & Space Science

Academic Year 2023/2024

We live in a golden age of astronomy. This module provides an introduction to astronomy, from the earliest theories through to the most current scientific knowledge of the universe. Topics include the solar system, extrasolar planets, the sun, stars and their evolution, black holes, gravitational waves and the Big Bang. There is an emphasis on the role of space-based technology in our understanding of the formation and evolution of the universe and its contents. This module is not highly mathematical or quantitative and is probably not appealing to students seeking a rigorous mathematical introduction to the subject.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:-
1. Summarise the development of ideas about the universe from earliest records to modern times;
2. Connect these ideas with their underlying empirical and/or theoretical foundations;
3. Relate observable phenomena in the universe to the underpinning physical processes;
4. Apply mathematical formulae and physical laws to solve problems in astronomical topics encountered;
5. Display familiarity with the motions, brightnesses and appearances of different celestial bodies in the sky;
6. Use astronomical tools and software to plan and execute naked-eye observations.

Indicative Module Content:

1.- Our place in the universe; distance scales; the Earth, Sun and Moon – orbits, phases and eclipses; planets, comets and meteorites in the solar system; cometary impacts; Kepler’s laws; gravity.
2.- The electromagnetic spectrum – visible light; radio waves; X and gamma rays; Doppler effect; telescopes; satellites; Hubble Space Telescope;
3.- Our Sun; energy source; solar activity; space weather; the fate of our sun.
4.- Stars - from birth to death; neutron stars; black holes; origin of the elements.
5.- The Milky Way galaxy; spiral, irregular & elliptical galaxies; active galaxies; supermassive black holes; distribution of galaxies in space; Hubble’s law.
6- The Big Bang and the fate of the universe; dark matter and dark energy.
7.- Life in the universe; extra-solar planetary systems; detectability of life on other planets; future space missions.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The videos and slides of all the lectures plus additional information will be available on-line via Brightspace.
The tutorials will be used to advance on the topics covered in the lectures and develop basic skills of problem solving in astronomy.
There will be a set of homework with a mixture of short-essay questions, problems and multi-choice questions throughout the trimester. Additionally, there will be a set of voluntary homework (bonus homework) aimed for advanced students. The material covered in this bonus homework will advance on topics covered in class through challenging problems. The material covered in this bonus homework is not necessary for the course. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Astronomy & Space Science (EXPH10050)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Weekly short assignments Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: Final exam consisting on 25 Multi-Choice Questions (25% of the exam), short-questions (45% of the exam) and simple math-based problems (up to 30% of the exam) 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The answers of the assignments will be reviewed during the tutorials. In a few cases, the students may review other students work to better understand how to approach essay-style questions. The solutions to all assignments will be posted online.

Name Role
Ms Angela Dunne O'Toole Tutor
Dr Robert Jeffrey Tutor