PHYC30100 Stellar Astrophysics & Astronomical Techniques

Academic Year 2023/2024

The first part of this module is concerned with our understanding of the births, lives and deaths of stars. The starting point is the observational study and classification of stars, arriving at the Hertzsprung-Russell and Mass-Luminosity diagrams. The physics of stars, including the mechanisms by which stars support themselves against gravitational collapse, and how they derive power from nuclear processes and generate elements heavier than Helium, is then examined. The final section of the course is dedicated to astronomical instrumentation where the design of telescopes used in astronomy to detect electromagnetic radiation from radio waves to gamma rays is explored. The module draws on ideas and laws from many different areas of physics and so a reasonable background in physics is expected for students to undertake this course.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
(1) describe the techniques and results of observations of stars
(2) derive/calculate information about stars' physical properties from the measurement data
(3) apply the laws of physics to understand the properties and evolution of stars, and apply models to determine parameters such as central pressure, central temperature, lifetime etc.
(4) describe the processes of stellar nucleosynthesis
(5) describe the compact objects that form at the end of stars' lives, including White Dwarf stars, Neutron stars and Pulsars.
(6) discuss the detection methods and techniques used by astronomical telescopes for operation in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and perform basic calculations of telescope performance and sensitivity

Indicative Module Content:

Rough outline of the course

- Introduction: stellar properties (distances, magnitude, luminosities, etc); The HR diagram; ...

- Stellar structure

- Stellar evolution

- Astronomical techniques: Earth atmosphere; Fundamental concepts; Telescopes

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures, in-class problem solving, homework assignments. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Module Dependencies: PHYC 20010, PHYC 20020, PHYC 20030.

Learning Recommendations:


Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Continuous Assessment Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: Written exam at end of semester 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

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The marked problem sheets with comments will be returned to the students and solutions done on the board.

Name Role
Assoc Professor John Quinn Tutor
Professor Emma Sokell Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Mon 14:00 - 14:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 10:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 10:00 - 10:50