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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2010 - 2011

Module Title The Universe
Module Code PS108
School School of Physical Sciences

Online Module Resources

Module Co-ordinatorDr Eamonn CunninghamOffice NumberN137
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

A general introduction to astronomy & astrophysics assuming no prior knowledge. Including the solar system, stars, galaxies and an introduction to cosmology.

Learning Outcomes

1. Describe the structure and dynamics of the solar system.
2. Calculate the resolving power and capabilities of astronomical instruments at various wavelengths.
3. Explain the power source of stars and the evolution of different types of stars.
4. Describe the properties of galaxies and their distribution in the universe
5. Describe the history of the Universe, the Big Bang theory and its implications for the future evolution of the Universe.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Tutorial6Tutorial (problem session)
Directed learning3In class tests (3)
Independent Study91Independent learning
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Solar System
Structure and dynamics of the solar system. Kepler's laws and gravitation.

Astronomical Instrumentation
Optical telescopes, resolution and magnitude limits. Radio telescopes and their properties. Observations at other wavelengths.

Spectrum, luminosity and surface temperature of stars. Nuclear fusion and the life cycle of stars. Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.

Structure and evolution of galaxies. Measuring distances and the expansion of the Universe. Big Bang theory and the cosmic microwave background.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment30% Examination Weight70%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • Ian Morison: 2008, Introduction to Astronomy & Cosmology, Wiley, UK, 978-0-470-03334-0
  • W.J. Kaufmann and R.A.Freedman: 2005, The Universe, Seventh, Freeman & Co., US, 0-7167-9884-0
Other Resources

604, Moodle website, E Cunningham, 2009, PS108 lecture notes, Ireland,
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