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Radio Astronomy - CED00015M

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  • Department: Centre for Lifelong Learning
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Alex Brown
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module will discuss the theory behind radio telescopes and their use in modern astronomy. The module will begin by discussing the processes of detecting microwaves and radio waves, and the challenge that these forms of observations encounter. The physics behind the design of radio telescopes will be explored with particular reference to current radio telescopes and interferometers. With the knowledge of how observations in this region of the electromagnetic spectrum are made, the module will discuss the astronomical objects and phenomena which are observed at by these instruments. Particular attention will be given to the cosmic microwave background, radio galaxies and pulsars.

Module learning outcomes

At the conclusion of the module students will be able to:

  • Understand the physics which describes the fundamentals of electromagnetic wave propagation
  • Understand the physics which underpins the construction of microwave and radio telescopes and perform calculations related to these concepts
  • Discuss the difficulties faced by astronomers making observations in each of these regions and how they may be overcome
  • Understand the concept of the Fourier transform and its application in astronomy
  • Analyse and understand the design of radio telescopes
  • Understand the technique of interferometry and its application in observational astronomy
  • Discuss the observation of cosmic microwave background and understand its origin
  • Discuss observations of stars, galaxies and pulsars in the radio region of the electromagnetic spectrum.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

The tutor will give regular individual feedback throughout the module on work submitted.

The assessment feedback is as per the university’s guidelines with regard to timings.

Indicative reading

  • Burke, B. F.: An introduction to Radio Astronomy, Cambridge University Press, 2014
  • Lashley, J.: The Radio Sky and How to Observe It, Springer, 2010
  • Fleisch, D.: A Student’s Guide to Maxwell’s Equations, Cambridge University Press, 2008
  • James, J.F.: A Student’s Guide to the Fourier Transform, Cambridge University Press, 2011

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.