ASP4000 - Astrophysics research project - 2019

24 points, SCA Band 2, 0.500 EFTSL

Undergraduate, Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Michael J Morgan


Professor Michael J Morgan

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


Enrolment in the Master of Science


Students undertake a project, involving original research in one of the School's research themes, which encompass a diverse range of "cutting-edge" topics, including: active galaxies, astrophysical fluid dynamics and magneto-hydrodynamics, galaxy evolution, first stars, the formation of stars, stellar evolution, stellar nucleosynthesis, nuclear astrophysics, chemical evolution, galactic archaeology, supernovae and supernovae remnants, neutron stars, stellar transients, supermassive black holes, high energy astrophysics, gravitational wave astronomy, stellar and planetary dynamics and exoplanets. A full list of projects will be made available to students prior to commencing their MSc program.

The research project may be observational, computational or theoretical in nature, or it may involve a combination of these research paradigms. Each student will be assigned an academic supervisor (or supervisors), who will oversee the research project and provide mentoring. Students will be required to undertake a comprehensive literature review and report their preliminary results via a seminar. The major outcomes of the project will be communicated in the form of a thesis. Students will also be required to defend their research outcomes via an oral examination. For most students their project will be continued into the second year of the MSc program; hence ASP4000 will lay the foundations for a substantial ongoing research project in the second year of the degree.

As part of their research training, students will be affiliated with one of the School's research groups (aligned with their research project) and will be required to attend weekly group meetings, seminars and colloquia. Opportunities will also be provided to students to receive training in specialist areas associated with their research project, e.g., technical computing, visualisation of data, specific observational techniques, etc.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Understand, use and explain the basic concepts and principles of the research literature which underpin the chosen area of astrophysics research.
  2. Synthesise and interpret the knowledge gained in the study of the underpinning research literature. This leads to the ability to identify a niche topic or topics within this existing body of literature, which represents a gap in current knowledge. This problem should be suitable for original research.
  3. Advance our understanding of an existing problem or problems in the chosen area for original research.
  4. Present the results of the original research in written form as a thesis, and also present key thesis results in oral form as a final seminar.
  5. Defend the results of the original research in an oral exam.


Literature review: 20%

Seminar: 10%

Thesis: 70%

Workload requirements

48 hours per week which includes 36 hours of independent research; 7 hours of literature review, seminar and thesis preparation; 3 hours attendance at group meetings, seminars colloquia; 1 hour specialist training and 1 hour consultation with supervisor.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Master of Science in Astrophysics