PHYC40360 Theoretical Astrophysics

Academic Year 2023/2024

Theoretical astrophysics is concerned with the application of the fundamental principles and equations of physics to solve astrophysical problems and to explain astronomical observations. This module covers the theory of radiative processes, astrophysical gas dynamics and an introduction to astrophysical plasmas. Radiative processes includes the equation of radiative transfer and the fundamental theory of radiation fields. The module will then specifically examine bremsstrahlung, synchrotron, Compton, inverse-Compton and line emission mechanisms. Gas dynamics includes basic principles, hydrostatics, waves, shock fronts, accretion, outflows, instabilities and an introduction to plasma physics. These topics will be applied to an extensive range of astronomical problems and observations; including the hot big bang model, aspects of stellar structure and evolution, compact objects, the interstellar medium and high energy astrophysics.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module a student will (1) understand the principles of astrophysical radiative processes and gas dynamics, (2) understand how fundamental areas of physics combine in different astrophysical settings, (3) solve problems in radiative processes and gas dydnamics and (4) explain select astronomical observations using the tools of theoretical astrophysics.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures/Reflective learning/Enquiry and problem based learning 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Class Test: Open-book, in-class test Week 7 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: End of semester written exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: Homework problems Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn 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?

Not yet recorded.

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) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Mon 15:00 - 16:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 11:00 - 11:50