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The University of Southampton

PHYS1005 Introduction to Astronomy and Space Science

Module Overview

The module shows how simple physical principles can be used to learn about the Universe. The focus is upon how one can measure physical quantities such as size, distance, temperature, age and mass for the variety of objects in the Universe. By its end students should be able to appreciate topics of current interest in astronomy and cosmology. Students should be aware that this module requires A-level physics (with a C grade or above) and A-level maths (grade C or above).

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Know the essentials of astronomical measurements of brightness and velocities
  • Understand how the distances, sizes and masses of astrophysical objects can be measured
  • Understand how the elements are formed inside stars
  • Know about the expansion of the Universe and how observations can lead to the determination of its age, mass and future evolution
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Have an appreciation of the relative distances, sizes and masses of the various objects in the Universe


Solar system: - the properties of the planets and moons - solar system physics including formation - comets and asteroids Exoplanets: - classification - detection methods - state-of-the-art Stars: - The Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagram; H-R diagrams of star clusters; classification of stars from their position in the H-R diagram - The dependence of stellar properties and timescales on mass - The determination of the ages of clusters - Physical conditions within stars - Nuclear fusion - Stellar evolution - Core-collapse supernovae - White dwarfs, neutron stars and black-holes Galaxies: - Classification of galaxies by their appearance - Galaxy interactions - The Milky Way - Active galaxies - Radio jets Cosmology: - The expansion of the Universe - The Cosmic Microwave Background - The Big Bang model - Measurement of the age and mass and the future evolution of the Universe

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be primarily by delivered lectures, and learning is enhanced by problem sheets.

Follow-up work15
Completion of assessment task56
Preparation for scheduled sessions15
Wider reading or practice36
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Chaisson & McMillan. Astronomy Today - Global Edition. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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