Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
PHM4810, PHM4910
Successful completion of Year 3
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture This will vary between workshops, but typical figures are 6 hours.
Seminars / Tutorials 6 hours
Practical 10 x 2-hour practical sessions
Other Guided reading
Workload Breakdown Every 10 credits carries a notional student workload of 100 hours; 6 hours lectures, 6 hours seminars, 20 hours practicals, 168 hours independent study.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 4 reports x 4 pages (including diagrams), 17.5% per report  70%
Semester Assessment Research review of 10 pages (including diagrams)  30%
Supplementary Assessment As determined by the Departmental Examination Board.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Undertake self study and original research of relevant science areas (e.g. determination of wind and composition profiles in the Venusian atmosphere, transforming lunar composition data from space-based spectrometers into mapping frames of reference, comparing the results of surface profiles from stereo and shadow methods;
2. Identify research and applications problems in Solar-System Physics and Planetary Exploration and the appropriate methodologies to address and solve them;
3. Demonstrate a knowledge of current research issues in Solar-System Physics and Planetary Exploration;
4. Identify and operate research software used in Solar-System Physics and Planetary Exploration.

Brief description

The module draws on the breadth of experience in Solar-System Physics and planetary exploration available within the Institute by exposing the students to a selection of workshops. Out of a range of topics, four workshops will be taught in any given year. The workshop contents are intended to reflect the dynamic of the Institutes' evolving research interests. Where possible, external speakers will be brought in to supplement the department's expertise - although this is not required for the successful running of the module.


Workshop topics include, but are not limited to:
  • Investigating the Venusian atmosphere
  • Exploring the surface of Mars
  • Planetary mapping and cartography
  • Robotic vision in planetary science application
  • Mapping the composition of the Moon
  • Using the IDL software package
  • 3D modelling and visualization
  • Each workshop will have a different assessment which will be devised by the academic leading the workshop.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Calculations resulting from the analysis of space- and ground-based solar system data, geometrical calculations for vision and visualisation methods.
Communication Essay writing, the preparation of a research review paper, web site design, oral and poster presentations are variants of assignments used in this module.
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent literature research and reading is an important component of the module. Students are expected to read on from initial material given to them and show in their assignments that they have done so. Computer coding will help students develop their own program writing skills through experience.
Information Technology Computer programming, web site design, use of online literature data bases and search facilities (e.g. Web of Knowledge)
Personal Development and Career planning A wide range of applications of solar system physics will be covered in the workshops. These will be drawn from the cutting-edge research interests of staff in the institute. The topics covered will therefore be of immediate importance for those students who pursue careers in research, particularly in Aberystwyth.
Problem solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and will be tested via workshop reports and the research review paper
Research skills Research reading in the current literature is a key component of this module
Subject Specific Skills Dependent on the particular workshop contents.
Team work It is open to individual lecturers to allow students to form small working groups where this is appropriate


This module is at CQFW Level 7