Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
MA10610 or MT10610; and PH16210 or FG16210.
External Examiners
  • Professor Pete Vukusic (Professor - Exeter University)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   60%
Semester Assessment 1 x Assignment Sheet (20%)  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x Research Essay (8 pages including diagrams)  20%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Explain of the basic features of observational astronomy.
2. Explain the physical processes whereby a section of the ISM collapses to a star.
3. Describe the evolution and final states of stars.
4. Explain the importance in stellar evolution of the size and rate of a mass loss of stars.

Brief description

The course provides an overview of the physics of stars, considering their formation, energetics and evolution. PH18010 provides useful background for the module but is not essential as a prerequisite.


This module considers the physics of stars. The module begins by discussing the methods used to determine the distance of stars and hence their luminosity, radii and mass. It considers methods of measuring Stellar Masses, including Binary stars, Elliptical Orbits, Radial Velocity/Doppler shift, Kepler'r Laws of Motion and considerations of Energy in Elliptical Orbits.

Stellar Radius is investigated via the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, Angular Diameter, and Spectroscopy of Eclipsing Binaries.

Stellar and galactic distances are investigated in detail via methods including Spectroscopic parallax, Standard Candles, Cepheid Variables, Type 1a supernovae, the Tully Fisher Relation and Hubble's Law.

Starbirth, the main sequence, nuclear reactions.

A description of the Herzsprung-Russell diagram illustrates an account of the physical processes involved in stellar formation and evolution, leading to the end-states of white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. Non main sequence stars will also be covered.

Bose-Einstein, Fermi-Dirac and Maxwell-Boltmann thermodynamic statistics applications to stars.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Questions set in the assignment and the formal examination will include numerical problems.
Communication Written communication is developed via the research essay and the assignment.
Improving own Learning and Performance The assignment is used in order that students might reflect on their progress during the module.
Information Technology Students will be required to research topics within the module via the internet. Word processing (or equivalent) skills will be required for the essay.
Personal Development and Career planning The module will highlight the latest developments in this field and hence will assist with career development. Analytical skills have wide applicability.
Problem solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and will be tested via the quality problem questions posed in the examination.
Research skills A research essay, for which students are required to independently research their selected project area forms 20% of the module assessment.


This module is at CQFW Level 5