Accessibility statement

Advanced Astrophysics Laboratory - PHY00028H

« Back to module search

  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Emily Brunsden
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2017-18 to Summer Term 2017-18

Module aims

Frontiers of Physics Research

Frontiers of physics research will enable you to explore through a series of lectures areas of current research in the Department. Each lecture will introduce a specific topic which will serve as the stimulus for further study. Following the lectures, which will also include sessions on scientific writing and how to read journal articles, you will research one topic as a concise review article and two in the form of abstracts. In addition, you will attend the Departmental Postgraduate Poster evening and write up one of the displayed posters.

Advanced Astrophysics Laboratory

There are two main aims for the third year astrophysics laboratory

a. To provide practical examples of some of the more advanced physics and astrophysics you will be covering in the third and fourth year lecture courses and

b. To provide a step between the rather directed, short term experiments of the first and second year laboratories and the complexities of your astrophysics project work next year.

As a result the experiments are both longer and more open-ended, and will be directed by your growing expertise and effort. The scripts of the experiments will require you to find and read appropriate additional material and reference these sources in your lab notebook and your Laboratory Dissertation. You will also learn to keep a contemporary and formatted laboratory notebook which will be a true record of your laboratory work and progress. You will also learn how to manage multi-staged, complex, and open-ended experimental work.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module successful students will be able to:

become proficient with an area of departmental research and current astrophysical research to a level consistent with 3rd year MPhys knowledge by means of literature, database and web searches

become confident in reading scientific journal articles and extracting useful information

write succinct and accurate scientific English for both one-page and more extended summaries and Laboratory Dissertation of experimental work

able to learn from, analyse and constructively criticise a PhD-level poster presentation.

To properly measure and collect data using techniques important to astronomy and astrophysics within the laboratory

To describe the physics behind experimental observables found in the laboratory work.

Keep a good and professional experimental record of work in the laboratory notebook

Module content


Frontiers of Physics Research:-

The topics are likely to vary from year to year; recent lectures have included:

  • Plasma Physics of ITER
  • Coherent extreme UV radiation
  • Shape transitions in atomic nuclei
  • Gamma-ray bursters
  • Beauty is only nanometres deep
  • Stroboscopic investigation of spin motion
  • Ab-initio quantum mechanics for many-electron systems
  • Computer simulation of magnetic nano-structures

Advanced Astrophysics Laboratory:-

The students have the choice of performing three experiments from an extensive list of experiment. The experiments can to vary from year to year; and the recent Astrophysics-specific experiments have recently included:

  • Galactic hydrogen line profiling
  • 12 GHz interferometer
  • Solar Telescope
  • Spectro-heliography of the sun

As well as related experiments in Atomic Physics, Optics, and Signal Processing in the Advanced Experimental Physics Laboratory.


Task Length % of module mark
Assignment (FoR)
N/A 25
Lab work (2 experiments)
N/A 30
Open-ended experimentation, lab books and Laboratory Dissertation
N/A 45

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Please note that the split within each of the three experiments (100 marks corresponding to 15% weighting) is:

Introduction and Experimental Plan - 30 marks
Quality of Laboratory Notebook - 20 marks
Executive Summary Report - 30 marks
Interview - 20 marks
Total - 100 marks


Task Length % of module mark
Lab work (2 experiments)
N/A 30
Open-ended experimentation, lab books and Laboratory Dissertation
N/A 45

Module feedback

Frontiers of Research -

Written feedback on the assignment will provided within four weeks of the deadline.

Experimental Lab -

The executive summary report will be marked by the academic staff and sometime in the next two weeks each student will have an individual brief (10 to 15 minute) discussion with the academic about their report. This will provide feedback on your work and will also form part of the assessment by determining your level of understanding and capability associated with the work.
Feedback on each experiment will be provided during the interview to discuss your results. Additionally written feedback wil be provided using the form in the lab handbook.

Written feedback on the dissertation will be provided within four weeks of the deadline.

Indicative reading

See Lab handbook and VLE resources

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.