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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2019-2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Physics

PHYS3651 : PLANETS AND COSMOLOGY 3

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap Location Durham

Prerequisites

  • Foundations of Physics 1 (PHYS1122).

Corequisites

  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • This module is designed primarily for students studying Department of Physics or Natural Sciences degree programmes.
  • It provides a knowledge appropriate to Level 3 students of the astrophysical origin of planetary systems and the cosmological origin of the Universe.

Content

  • The syllabus contains:
  • Planetary Systems: Overview of the Solar System, orbital dynamics, planetary interiors, planetary atmospheres, formation of the Solar System, extrasolar planets.
  • Cosmology: Observational overview and the expansion of the Universe, the cosmological principle (homogeneity and isotropy), Newtonian gravity and the Friedmann equation, the geometry of the Universe, solutions of Friedmannʼs equations, the age of the Universe, weighing the Universe, the cosmological constant, general relativistic cosmology (the metric and Einstein equations), classic cosmology (distances and luminosities), type Ia SNe and galaxy number counts, the cosmic microwave background, the thermal history of the Universe, primordial nucleosynthesis, dark matter, problems with the hot big bang, inflation, current constraints on cosmological parameters.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having studied this module, students will understand the formation and workings of our Solar System, its orbital dynamics, and the basic physics of planetary interiors and atmospheres.
  • They will be familiar with mathematical models for the expansion, thermal history, material and energy content of a homogeneous isotropic universe, and will understand the physical basis of the model and the observational evidence that constrains it.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In addition to the acquisition of subject knowledge, students will be able to apply the principles of physics to the solution of complex problems.
  • They will know how to produce a well-structured solution, with clearly-explained reasoning and appropriate presentation.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • Teaching will be by lectures and workshops.
    • The lectures provide the means to give a concise, focused presentation of the subject matter of the module. The lecture material will be defined by, and explicitly linked to, the contents of the recommended textbooks for the module, thus making clear where students can begin private study. When appropriate, the lectures will also be supported by the distribution of written material, or by information and relevant links on DUO.
    • Regular problem exercises and workshops will give students the chance to develop their theoretical understanding and problem solving skills.
    • Students will be able to obtain further help in their studies by approaching their lecturers, either after lectures or at other mutually convenient times.
    • Student performance will be summatively assessed through an examination and formatively assessed through problem exercises and a progress test. The examination will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem-solving skills.
    • The problem exercises and progress test provide opportunities for feedback, for students to gauge their progress and for staff to monitor progress throughout the duration of the module.

    Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 38 2 per week 1 Hour 38
    Workshops 17 Weekly 1 Hour 17
    Preparation and Reading 145
    Total 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Written examination 3 hours 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    Problem exercises and self-assessment; one progress test, workshops and problems solved therein.


    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University



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