Stars & Galaxies - CED00017M

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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 Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module will focus on the evolution of stars, from their formation to their death. The module will begin by examining the Sun with particular focus on its structure and the solar cycle. The module will progress to focus on the nuclear reactions occurring in stars. The module will introduce the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and its importance for modern astronomers will be explored. The underlying physical processes which underpin the phenomenon of stellar formation will be discussed. Following from this the evolution of stars from birth onto the main sequence will be discussed. This section will also include a discussion of the evolution of binary pairs and the effects that partner stars have on one another (e.g. mass transfer in binary star systems). The module will conclude with a discussion of the possible death of stars depending on their mass and the remnants which are left behind.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the nuclear reactions which power the stars and their implication for hydrostatic equilibrium
  • Explain the solar cycle and its implications for modern technology
  • Discuss the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram with reference to luminosity, spectral classification and surface temperature
  • Display understanding of the physical processes that underpin stellar birth and evolution
  • Compare population I, II and III stars
  • Describe how binary stars can be detected and the difference in the evolutionary paths between binary and lone star systems
  • Explain the death of stars with reference to their mass
  • Understand the Hubble sequence and classify galaxies according to their morphology
  • Describe the nature of the Milky Way galaxy, including structure, age-metallicity relation and the dark matter halo
  • Explain the kinematics of the Milky Way with reference to peculiar motions and the local standard of rest, the hydrogen 21-cm line and the flat rotation curve as evidence for dark matter
  • Understand galactic formation, evolution and interaction.


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

  • Carroll, B. W. & Ostlie, D.A.: An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Pearson, 2014
  • Freedman, R. A... & Kaufmann, W. J.: Universe, W. H. Freeman & Co., 2014
  • Phillips, A. C.: The Physics of Stars, Wiley-Blackwell, 1999
  • Green, S. F. & Jones, M. H.: An introduction to the sun and stars, Cambridge University Press, 2004

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.