The University of Southampton

PHYS6013 Research Thesis - Astrophysics

Module Overview

This module forms the final year of their Astrophysics with a Year Abroad MPhys degree. The student will have completed a significant research project, ideally of publishable quality, under the guidance of a supervisor from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This programme is a collaboration that aims to give Southampton fourth year Astronomy students a taste of real research, and aims to give SAO scientists the chance to work with first class students wanting to do a research project.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Ability to search scientific literature and review research topics
  • Ability to prepare observing and/or research proposals
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Ability to prepare publication quality reports
  • Ability to give presentations on research topics to students, staff and the general public
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Ability to work with astronomical data (ground and/or space-based)
  • Ability to work with standard astronomical software, for observational and/or theoretical projects


This unit entirely consists of a research-level project. The project titles and brief abstracts are made available to students around May in their third year. Students submit their preferences after studying these and after consulting with local Southampton course co-ordinator. A final allocation is made by 15 July. Students are advised to have a preliminary discussion with their SAO hosts before the summer vacation to discuss any background reading or other preparation that could be carried out during the vacation.

Learning and Teaching

Wider reading or practice39
Completion of assessment task63
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Final Report 40%
First Semester Report 20%
Seminar presentation 20%
Viva 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework marks carried forward %
Final Report %
Viva %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

For AY 2017/18 onwards: The stay at Harvard will typically be for 9 months. Rentable home accommodation is available, and tuition fees will be charged at 15% of the standard level. A £500 Southampton Opportunity scholarship will be awarded to help cover for the difference in living costs between Southampton and Boston and the purchase of at least one return flight.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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