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Introduction to Astronomy - CED00018M

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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: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module will introduce some of the fundamental principles which underpin modern astronomy and astrophysics. The module will begin by introducing some of the most exciting challenges facing modern astronomers today. The module will examine how astronomy developed from philosophy into a modern science, with particular reference to the scientific method. This discussion will lead to the introduction of the key concepts of optics on which optical telescopes rely. The module will conclude by discussing the nature of light and its uses (e.g. spectroscopy and Wien’s law).

Module learning outcomes

By the conclusion of the module the student should be able to:

  • Discuss the development of astronomy from philosophy to a modern science
  • Recognise and describe the use of the scientific method in Astronomy
  • Demonstrate understanding of the physics behind an optical telescope and carry out simple calculation related to these concepts
  • Understand and use the celestial sphere and celestial mechanics
  • Use Wien’s law and Stefan-Boltzmann law to calculate stellar properties
  • Explain the production methods of spectral absorption and emission lines and their use in modern astronomy
  • Understand the Doppler Effect and its uses within modern astronomy
  • Understand and apply the concept of reference frames and the theory of special relativity to solve problems involving relative motion.


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

  • Hoskin, M.: The History of Astronomy: A very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 2003
  • Freedman, R. A. & Kaufmann, W. J.: Universe, W. H. Freeman & Co., 2014
  • Hester, J., Smith, B., Blumenthal, G., Kay, L., & Voss, H.: 21st Century Astronomy, W. W. Norton & Co., 2013

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.