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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 17/05/2022 10:25:33

Title of Module: Introductory Astronomy

Code: PHYS07008 SCQF Level: 7
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:Marcus  Scheck

Summary of Module

This module is presented at Level 7. The course material is primarily presented in lectures, with an overview of various aspects of modern astronomy.  The course is designed to be accessible to students from any subject background, and no previous knowledge of astronomy will be required.  A brief outline of the syllabus is given below:

The first series of lectures will cover scales encountered in astronomy and how they can be measured. This is followed by an overview of modern teslescopes for optical as well as gravitational wave spectroscopy. These lectures will continue on to look at Edwin Hubble’s observation of the expanding Universe and the subsequent questions that arose towards cosmology. In the following the cosmic microwave background and the early stages of our universe will be explored.

In the main section the stars and their lifecycles as central object in astronomy will be explored, followed by objects like neutron stars and black hole as corpses of massive stars. Massive black holes provide a natural bridge to explore galaxies and their formation before in the final lectures returning to our own solar system. The final lecture is dedicated to the search for extra-solar planets and the conditions for life on those are elucidated.

The graduate attributes resulting from this module are:


  • Academic: Critical and analytical thinker, knowledgeable, innovative

  • Personal: Culturally aware, imaginative, motivated

  • Professional: Research minded, ambitious, driven, daring

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1


Term 2check markTerm 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Understand the evolution of our own solar system, the role of the sun, the structure and atmospheres of the planets.

L2. Demonstrate an understanding of current astronomy projects and missions, the technological challenges that are faced.

L3. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the universe and its time evolution

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 7.

• An awareness of the historical developments in astronomy
• A broad knowledge of our current understanding of the expanding Universe
• A broad knowledge of what we know about our solar system – the Sun and our neighbouring planets

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 7.

Use some of the basic concepts and knowledge of current astronomical missions and projects to consider the technological challenges faced by the astronomers of today and the future.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 7.

• Evaluate observational evidence in astronomy
• Reflect on certain sociological factors that aid and/or hinder scientific progress

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 7.

• Use a wide range of routine skills for early-stage astronomers:
- Interpret astronomical observations
- Convey astronomical theory
- Identify and communicate challenges faced by today’s astronomers

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 7.

• Exercise some initiative and independence in carrying out defined activities associated with the study of the module material.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Other:Higher, A Level, or AS-Level in a science subject, or equivalent.
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
This module is lecture based, supplemented by problem solving tutorials/workshops. In the lectures a broad overview of modern astronomy will be discussed. Students will be encouraged to read the prescribed texts prior to the lectures so that they might engage in informed questioning and discussion during the lecture sessions. During the tutorial sessions, which allow the students to reflect on the learning materials provided, students will be encouraged to tackle questions independently, with support as required. Outwith the timetabled classes, students will be expected to supplement the lectures by their own private study involving reading the prescribed texts and supplementary teaching materials. The face to face teaching will be supplemented by a Moodle site giving students remote access to the teaching materials and other resources. As mentioned above, students will be expected to consolidate their learning by wider reading of the recommended texts, by independent study and by further independent practice at problem solving.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery24
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity12
Independent Study164
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

• internet resources will provide bulk of essential resources e.g. where details are given on current European Space Agency programs

• guided reading, e.g. Big Questions: The Universe, by Stuart Clark

• relevant astronomy journals, e.g.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardPhysical Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelPhysical Sciences
ModeratorMichael Bowry
External ExaminerH Boston
Accreditation DetailsInstitute of Physics
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
50% class tests
50% coursework (2x individual assignment, 1x technically (Observatory, space mission), 1 x physics (astronomical object or constant)
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Class test (written)check markcheck markcheck mark507

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Portfolio of written workcheck markcheck mark 507
Combined Total For All Components100% 14 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
This module is appropriate for any student
UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.