Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Successful completion of Year 3 of the MPhys Scheme

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 130 lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 60 hours exercises/problems/project/field-work


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment AGF301  Combined: Written Examination + Approved Project Report  50%
Semester Assessment AGF304  Combined: Oral Examination +Approved Project Report  50%

Learning Outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

  • describe the relationship between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetosphere.
  • identify the different regions in the polar and auroral zones.
  • describe the main electric current systems relating the magnetosphere and the ionosphere.
  • describe the fundamental theories of incoherent scatter processes and signal processing.
  • give a technical description of the EISCAT Svalbard radar.

Brief description

The module, which is delivered and assessed at UNIS located in Longyearbyen, Svlabard, consists of 2 parts:
AGF-301 Upper Polar Atmosphere
AGF-304 Radar Diagnostics of Space Plasma

These qualify for 30 ECTS credits which are equivalent to 60 Aberystwyth Credits.


AGF-301 The Upper Polar Atmosphere

For details see

(15 ECTS ~ 30 Aberystwyth Credits)
This course describes the interactions between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetosphere and the consequences of these processes for the ionised region of the upper atmosphere i.e. the ionosphere. Energy, particles and momentum transferred from the solar wind manifest themselves in the upper Polar atmosphere, particularly as the aurora, but also in terms of powerful electric currents and wind systems (ion winds as well as winds in the neutral gas). Central elements in this course are descriptions of the Earth's magnetic field, the magnetosphere, ionisation processes and the formation of the ionosphere.

AGF-304 Radar Diagnostics of Space Plasma

(15 ECTS Credits ~ 30 Aberystwyth Credits)
This course contains fundamental theories of signal processing and incoherent scatter processes and gives an introduction to radar technology. A technical description of the EISCAT Svalbard Radar (ESR) including transmitter, receivers and antenna design is given. On the basis of theoretical models for incoherent scattering cross-section, a presentation will be given on the main principles for conducting plasma experiments with an incoherent scatter radar, and the plasma parameters that can be described from the autocorrelation functions observed by such a radar.

Transferable skills

Observations carried out at the Adventdalen Auroral Station

Reading List

Reference Text
Brekke, A. Physics of the Polar Upper Atmosphere Primo search T Nygren Introduction to incoherent scatter measurements Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7