Physics with Astrophysics (4 years) [MPhys]

Astrophysics involves the application of the laws of physics to distant regions that cannot be accessed by man-made apparatus, and in which the physical conditions can only be interpreted from the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted.

You will learn about our Sun and Solar System, the stars and our Galaxy, distant galaxies and quasars and the beginning of the Universe in the Big Bang. In addition, you will learn how to apply basic physics in situations that are often extreme compared with those on Earth.

Students usually perform at least two sets of observations at Jodrell Bank Observatory, where a dedicated undergraduate radio observatory based on a seven-metre telescope enables you to make your own observations.

You may also observe the night sky at visible wavelengths. Examples include using a solar telescope to observe the sun in your first year, imaging the moon in your second year, and using optical telescopes both in Manchester and at Jodrell Bank to analyse light from stars in your third and fourth year.

Course structure

The core units on the Physics with Astrophysics degree are identical to those studying the Physics Honours.

Astrophysics content, including laboratory work, makes up 15-20% of your first year, and increases in your second year. During your third and fourth year, you will begin to specialise, and much more of the course content is directly related to astrophysics, so you may choose to concentrate on the aspects that interest you most.

In addition to the lab experiments that are available to all physics students, you will have dedicated astrophysics experiments, plus a series of experiments based at Jodrell Bank. You analyse data taken with the 76-metre Lovell telescope, personally use a 13-metre radio telescope to take measurements on pulsars, and run a number of experiments on the seven-metre telescope in the dedicated undergraduate radio observatory.

Your fourth year involves two projects, each running for a full semester. Projects in recent years have included a study of supernova remnants of Messier 82, simulations of galaxy clusters, finding new clusters of young stars, and separating the cosmic microwave background from our galaxy.

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