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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PHAS5150M Research Skills in Astrophysics

30 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Gavin Burnell

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The ability to apply physical understanding and higher level problem solving skills to the processes in designing and carrying out experimental studies is essential for both higher level academic study in applied and experimental sciences and to many professional careers for astrophysicists. This module provides the skills with which astrophysics students can effectively design and carry out their research projects.In this module, students carry out extended, open-ended studies using techniques common-place in the Astrophysics research group research programmes to hone skills in data handling and analysis. An optional opportunity for observational fieldwork will be provided where feasible.


This module will give the students an increased awareness of skills required in preparing, conducting, analysing and interpreting of a wide range of advanced astronomical observational techniques and data sets through the use of appropriate measurement, data analysis and statistical approaches, work as part of a team, and to communicate and defend their work in a variety of professional contexts.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes :
On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
1. Perform or evaluate advanced astrophysical experiments using high-tech experimental and analytical techniques.
2. Explain and apply a range of experimental, statistical and computational analytical techniques to data.
3. Develop problem solving skills and practical approaches to troubleshooting calculations and simulations and time management, planning and delivering work to deadlines.

Skills Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills :
4. Deliver presentations including scientific concepts, results and methodologies and answer related questions.
5. Present scientific concepts, results and methodology in extended formal scientific English with illustrations and figures and references to literature sources as necessary.
6. Communicate complex concepts succinctly and coherently, defend results and methodology and answer related questions in one-to-one situations.


Each student undertakes 3 "mini-projects" of 3 weeks from a list of appropriate techniques to astrophysics. When available, students may choose to substitute one mini-project studied during semester time with an approved fieldwork experiment normally taken prior to semester 1.
The list of potential projects reflects the research activity in the Astrophysics Research Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy, a typical list may include the following: Nebular Spectroscopy, Stellar Clusters, Radio Interferometry.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours148.00
Total Contact hours152.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 17/04/2024


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