Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Year 2 PSP or Astrophysics
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 hours
Seminars / Tutorials 2 x 1-hour seminars
Workload Breakdown Every 10 credits carries a nominal student workload of 100 hours: 18 hours Lectures, 2 hours Seminars, 20 hours oral presentation including preparation time, 60 hours independent study


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   60%
Semester Assessment 2 assignment sheets (2 x 12.5%)  25%
Semester Assessment 1 x Oral Presentation  15%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Recognise the problem posed by coronal heating and critically discuss heating models;
2. Explain the variation in coronal and solar wind structure in terms of changes in the solar magnetic field;
3. List models that can accelerate relativistic charged particles;
4. Discuss how coronal parameters can be measured;
5. Derive Parker's simple theory of the solar wind and critically discuss its limitations in the light of solar wind measurements;
6. Explain the origin of co-rotating structure in the solar wind;
7. Estimate the location of the solar wind termination shock and critically discuss limitations of the simple model used to calculate this position;
8. Recognise the important factors in Sun-planetary coupling over short and long time-scales;
9. Discuss the main features of Sun-comet coupling, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the methods available to measure solar wind parameters and show how different methods can be combined to answer specific scientific questions.

Brief description

The course provides an in-depth treatment of the Physics of the solar atmosphere and heliosphere, including coupling between the solar wind and non-magnetised objects.


Corona: Coronal Heating, Plasma density in corona and interplanetary space. Scattering of light in the solar corona. Space-craft measurements. Irregularities in corona and interplanetary space : Coronal features. Coronal dynamics. Movement of visible features in the corona Doppler shift of spectral lines. Coronal Activity: Flares. Solar radio emission. Bursts. X-Rays. Particle emission. Measurement techniques and plasma diagnostics.

Solar wind and heliosphere: Parker's theory. Solar breeze and solar wind. Effect of conductivity and viscosity. Spiral structure of Interplanetary magnetic field. Acceleration of solar wind near sun. Non-uniform flow and shock fronts. Terminator Shock. Measurements of the solar wind: White-light drift measurements, interplanetary scintillation and in-situ measurements. Resolving the 3D structure of the solar wind.

Sun-Earth connections: Interaction with planetary magnetic fields. Terrestrial effects of solar variability. Long period variations in activity. Solar wind and cosmic ray shielding. 'Space climate'.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number All questions set in tests, example sheets and formal examinations will include numerical problems
Communication Written communication is developed via lecture assignments. Visual and spoken communication is developed via the oral presentation.
Improving own Learning and Performance Formative assignments are used in order that students might reflect on their progress during the module. The oral presentations will provide an opportunity to compare their work with those of other groups and form an idea of 'best practice'
Information Technology Students will be required to research topics within the module via the internet. Power Point Presentation (or equivalent) skills will be required for the oral presentation
Personal Development and Career planning The module will highlight the latest developments in this field and hence will assist with career development. The poster project, requiring students to work as a team, is of importance in fostering career development.
Problem solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and will be tested via lecture problem sheets, in the oral presentation and in formal examination at the end of the module
Research skills An oral presentation, for which students are required to independently research one of a range of topics covered by the course forms 15% of the module assessment. Research skills will also be developed
Subject Specific Skills
Team work The oral presentation project is a group assignment, so team work will be developed as students co-operate to research the various areas covered and develop the presentation


This module is at CQFW Level 6