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Advanced Astrophysical Laboratory - PHY00028H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Josie Rawes
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

The advanced astrophysical laboratory develops practical skills in telescope observing and astrophysical lab experiments, exploring how we test our theories.

Data Analysis Skills:

This part of the module is aimed at providing students with some practical experience of advanced data analysis techniques used in astrophysics and the statistical meaning of the results.


This part of the module builds on the skills learned in the Stage 1 and 2 astrophysics laboratory modules to further develop the observational and experimental competencies required of an astrophysicist. Students should become knowledgeable in operating advanced telescope equipment and software often found in astronomy research and development. The students will learn advanced astrophysics topics through observations, experiments and data analysis, often reinforcing ideas presented in the Stage 3 lecture modules.

One of the experiments will be written up as a laboratory thesis to develop scientific communication skills. This will provide a transition to the extended research project in Stage 4.

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

  • None

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Additional information

Pre-requisites: (new modules) Mapping the Universe & Laboratories or equivalent


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module builds on the astronomical observing and laboratory skills developed in the previous stages and provides practical examples of some of the advanced astrophysics you will be covering in the third and fourth year lecture courses. It aims to provide a step between the shorter, more prescriptive experiments of the first and second year laboratories and the complexities of your astrophysics MPhys project next year.

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

  • Demonstrate good astrophysical experimental practice, including a preliminary study of the concepts and principles involved, a detailed plan of the measurements to be taken and contemporaneous record keeping.
  • Execute experiments over an extended time, using a range of observational or experimental techniques and appropriate data analysis and processing methods.
  • Identify and assess experimental errors and to critically analyse and discuss experimental results with reference to results in literature.
  • Write a scientific report using the accepted structure and style to communicate the results of an experiment.

Module content

Typical experiments will take 4 full days (or equivalent) to complete and a series of such experiments will be undertaken throughout the semester. This is complemented with laboratory skills sessions, for instance data analysis practicals and writing of the pre-lab report and laboratory thesis. The extended length of each experiment will develop students' time management and self-directed research skills.

Students will perform 3 experiments linked to practical and computational astrophysics such as:

  • radio dipole observations
  • solar observing
  • asteroseismology
  • mapping galactic hydrogen
  • radio interferometry


Task Length % of module mark
Data Analysis assignment
N/A 10
Laboratory Notebook including preliminary report and viva
N/A 60
Laboratory Thesis
N/A 30

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Data Analysis assignment
N/A 10
Laboratory notebook - single experiment
N/A 60
Laboratory thesis
N/A 30

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme. We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments.

A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback. This can be found at:

The School of Physics, Engineering & Technology aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme. In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work. Students are provided with their examination results within 25 working days of the end of any given examination period. The School will also endeavour to return all coursework feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The School would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The School will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum. Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate. Meetings at the start/end of each semester provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date.

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Physics at York Taught Student Handbook

Indicative reading

Data Analysis Skills: R. J. Barlow. Statistics: A guide to the use of statistical methods in the physical sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1989

Laboratories: Lab scripts - available on the VLE

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.