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PHY2204 Astronomy and Astrophysics

Semester 1, 2012 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Biological & Physical Sciences

Contents on this page


Examiner: Brad Carter
Moderator: Carolyn Brown

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and internet access to UConnect for this course.


Observational astronomy and astrophysical theory together provide a profound scientific understanding of the universe and our own origins. This course helps to reveal our planet and our selves as being the result of a chain of events from the Big Bang to the synthesis of elements in stars to the formation and evolution of the solar system. This course also serves to highlight the relevance of the Sun and other astronomical influences in understanding Earth's past, present and future. This course aims to suit all interested students and illustrates some of the physical principles governing the universe. Students also gain practical experience in observational astronomy using Mt Kent Observatory.


This course is about the use of observational astronomy and astrophysical theory to understand our vast, ancient, and evolving universe. Observations inform us about the history of the cosmos from the Big Bang to today. These observations are interpreted using testable theories that provide a deep scientific understanding of our place in the universe. This course aims to help students appreciate our cosmic origins, today's observable universe, and the long-term future of our planet. There is also an opportunity to gain practical experience in observational astronomy using Mt Kent Observatory.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the movements of celestial objects in the sky;
  2. Discuss how we study the universe;
  3. Comprehend our planet's place in space;
  4. Discuss how stars form, evolve and die;
  5. Understand the nature of our universe.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Sky 20.00
2. Science 20.00
3. Planets 20.00
4. Stars 20.00
5. Universe 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Barbara Ryden and Bradley M Peterson 2009, Foundations of Astrophysics, 1st edn, Pearson/Addison Wesley, USA.
    (ISBN: 978-0-321-59558-4,
  • Students also will require e-mail, web and USQConnect access.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 48.00
Examinations 2.00
Experiments 24.00
Private Study 76.00
Tutorial or Electronic Discussion 24.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
REPORT 20 20 20 Apr 2012
Assignment 20 20 01 Jun 2012
2 HR RESTRICTED EXAM 60 60 End S1 (see note 1)

  1. Examination dates will be available during the Semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C. Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to be awarded a passing grade in this course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination); calculators which cannot hold textual information (students must indicate on their examination paper the make and model of any calculator(s) they use during the examination).

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  3. The Faculty will NOT accept submission of assignments by facsimile.

  4. Students who do not have regular access to postal services or who are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements.

  5. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner's convenience.

  6. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  7. Students may be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be dispatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  8. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //

Other requirements

  1. Students will require access to e-mail and internet access to UConnect for this course. Astronomical observation will be done using a robotic telescope remotely accessible over web. Please note that this will be queue-scheduled "robotic observing" not live "remote observing". Observing requests submitted over the web will be scheduled and images taken when possible.