Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Ionospheres & Magnetospheres
Academic Year
Semester 2
Year 2 PSP or Astrophysics
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 lectures/workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion

Brief description

This module examines the physics of atmospheres, both neutral and ionised, and the interaction of their upper regions with both the planet's own magnetic field and the interplanetary magnetic field.


  • Vertical structure. Hydrostatic equilibrium and scale heights. Atmospheric layers.
  • Regions of ionospheres.
  • Ionisation production and loss mechanisms, Chapman layers. Transport of ionisation and its effects on vertical density structure.
  • Ionospheric chemistry and the physical basis of anticorrelations between electron temperature and density.
  • Ionospheric dynamics and the servo-theory of the F-region.
  • Experimental techniques: Radio wave propagation: plasma frequency, gyrofrequency, phase velocity, group velocity, refractive index. The Appleton- Hartree equation and radio sounding. Scatter radars and trans-ionospheric propagation methods.
  • High-Latitude Ionospheres and Magnetospheres
  • Magnetospheric regions.
  • Magnetic field; dipolar and distorted.
  • Motion of charged particles; gyro, bounce and drift motion.
  • Solar wind-magnetosphere coupling; magnetic reconnection. Plasma convection.
  • Electric currents; Pedersen, Hall, field-aligned. High-latitude ionosphere coupling to Magnetosphere, auroral electrojets, substorms, aurora.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Throughout the module.
Communication Students will be expected to submit written worksheet solutions
Improving own Learning and Performance Feedback via tutorials
Information Technology Use of internet materials and software.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be exposed to an area of application that they have not previously encountered.
Problem solving All situations considered are problem-based to a greater or lesser degree
Research skills Students will be encouraged to consult various books and journals for examples and further study.
Subject Specific Skills Knowledge of new material.


This module is at CQFW Level 6