Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 Coursework assignments  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   70%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Explain the basic features of observational astronomy.
2. Infer stellar distances, colours, and diameters.
3. Describe the formation and evolution of stars.
4. Classify and compare the different types of stellar remnants.
5. Demonstrate a scientific grasp of the physics 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