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Centre for Advanced Instrumentation

Postgraduate Training


Course Organiser – Dr Richard Wilson


The Advanced Instrumentation Postgraduate Lecture course comprises a broad range of lecture/workshop modules, each of approx five hours, given by academic and research staff. These have been chosen to cover a selection of astronomy and instrumentation research undertaken in Durham. Initially in the Michaelmas term there will be practically orientated research-skill workshops, including (amongst others) statistics, programming, data reduction, and high-performance computing. Problems and exercises are set within blocks of lectures and are part of the overall assessment for the first year of postgraduate studies.

The lecture course starts with the introductory lecture at 9.00a.m. on Thursday 13th October in Room PH132. Unless otherwise stated the lectures in Michaelmas term, in common with the Astronomy course (A), will take place in Room PH132 at 9am, while the instrumentation lectures (I) in the Epiphany term will take place at 10am in room (TBD).

Lecture notes and other course material can be found on DUO: Postgraduate courses in Physics > Course Documents > Astronomy


Note that complementary courses are also run by the Information Technology Service (ITS). These are not part of the postgraduate course but can give useful background and experience of, for example, programming in Fortran and writing papers and reports in LaTEX. See and the Information Technology Service link for the dates and details of the ITS training courses.


Michaelmas Term 2016

The astronomy postgraduate lecture timetable for 2016 Michaelmas term is available here:

Epiphany Term 2017

Further Research Tools in Astronomy (A) : - Dr P. Norberg, Dr Richard Massey:

Research skills - Assessing papers (16/1, 9am, OC304)

Research skills - Writing papers (17/1, 9am, OC304)

Instrumentation Lectures (room OCW 116 at 10am):

Good Practise in Software Engineering (I) - Dr A. Reeves

(4 lectures) Jan 23, 24, 26, 27

Detectors, Simulation and Instrument Control (I) - Dr A. Basden

(4 lectures) Jan 30, 31, Feb 2, 3

Optical Engineering (I) - Dr S. Rolt

(6 lectures) Feb 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16

Optical Design with Zemax (I) - Dr C. Bourgenot

(5 lectures) Feb 20, 21, 23, 27, 28

Precision Optics Manufacture (I) - Dr C Bourgenot

(Tours/demonstrations at Netpark, times TBD) Mar 2, 3

Programme Management & Systems Engineering (I) - Mr G. Talbot

(5 lectures) Mar 7, 8, 9, 14, 15

New technologies for Spectroscopy - Dr A. Calcines Rosario

(3 lectures) Mar 20, 21, 23


Each block of the course will be assessed via course work. Five pieces of scientific-based course work will be set during the course. Each piece of scientific-based coursework is designed to take ~3 hrs of effort, although the exact time will vary depending on the lecture course and the student. The research-skill based coursework is expected to be more involved and will typically take more than 3 hrs of effort.

Each student is also required to write a 2500 word critique of two opposing papers/studies and give a 15 minute presentation on this towards the end of the Epiphany term. The selection of the opposing papers is decided by your supervisors. Finally, towards the end of the Easter term each student is required to write a 5000 word research report on which they are tested with a viva examination.

Michaelmas Term:

  1. Assessment exercises within the lecture and workshop sessions of the course - deadlines given by the lecturer.

Epiphany Term:

  1. Assessment exercises within the lecture and workshop sessions of the course - deadlines given by the lecturer.
  2. Assessed 2500 word critique written and a 15 minute presentation towards the end of term.
  3. The presentations are scheduled for Friday March 17th 9am-1pm in OC218.

Easter Term:

  1. Research Report, due by 15th June. This is followed by a viva examination with two members of staff, which must be completed by the end of June.

IMPORTANT NOTE: progression into the 2nd year of study is dependent on performance in the 1st year. It is a requirement of each astronomy student to attend all lectures and complete all course work, the 2500 word research critique and presentation, and successfully complete the first year 5000 word research report and viva.


There will be Astronomy talks held on Friday lunchtimes at 1pm in OC218, and Instrumentation talks on alternate Wednesdays during term time, see: As a purely informal, but useful exercise, each of the 1st year students will be called upon to give a presentation on their research in the latter half of their first year.