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PHY1101 Astronomy 1

Semester 1, 2021 Online
Short Description: Astronomy 1
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Sciences
Student contribution band : Band 2
ASCED code : 010303 - Astronomy
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Jonti Horner

Other requisites

It is assumed that students will have mathematical skills (including algebra and calculus) to the equivalent of Queensland Mathematics B standard.


This course is an introduction to astronomy – the study of the cosmos. Astronomy is the oldest science – and has played an important role in the cultures of our ancestors across the planet. It has provided the tools by which ancient peoples navigated the globe, and the calendar by which they lived and directed their lives. This course provides a historical background to the study of astronomy, and introduces the different techniques and tools used by astronomers to study the universe – showing how we have come to understand our place in the cosmos.

The course is particularly relevant to students wishing to learn or teach astronomy, physics or Earth sciences. The course is open to all and offers an accessible introduction to how science explains our place in the universe. The course will provide an important basis for students to understand the scientific method – particularly as applied to the observational sciences of astronomy and astrophysics.


This course forms an introduction to astronomy and astrophysics - the study of the universe around us. Astronomy is presented as a tool to understand our origins and place in the universe, and the way that our knowledge and understanding of astronomy has developed over the millennia is discussed in the course's early stages. The basic concepts that allow us to study the universe are then introduced, giving students the framework to understand how we study the cosmos, and laying the groundwork for their wider study of astronomy and astrophysics. The course teaches students how things move in the sky, and through space, explains the seasons, and how phenomena such as eclipses work.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Describe and quantify the way in which different celestial bodies move – both across the sky and through space;
  2. Explain how astronomers measure the distance to celestial objects, and calculate those distances using astronomical data;
  3. Discuss the history of astronomy and the importance of astronomy to different cultures;
  4. Explain how astronomers navigate the night sky;
  5. Perform mathematical calculations to determine how astronomers should best observe certain phenomena;
  6. Explain the origins of various astronomical phenomena.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The History of Astronomy 10.00
2. Indigenous Astronomy 10.00
3. Observing the Universe – Telescopes 10.00
4. The Celestial Sphere 10.00
5. The Astronomy of the Earth 10.00
6. How do things move in the sky? 10.00
7. How do things move in space? 10.00
8. How bright? How far? 10.00
9. The Scale of the Universe 10.00
10. The Future of Astronomy 10.00

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. (

There are no texts or materials required for this course.

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.
Bennett, Donahue, Schneider and Voit, 2019, The Cosmic Perspective, 9th edn, Pearson Higher Education, USA.
(ISBN-13: 978-0134874364.)
Carroll, B W. & Ostlie, D A 2017, An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, 2nd edn, Cambridge University Press.
(ISBN: 9781108422161.)
Lissauer, J. J. & de Pater, I., 2019, Fundamental Planetary Science, Updated Edition: Physics, Chemistry and Habitability.
(ISBN: 978-1108411981.)
Pasachoff, J. M. & Fillippenko, A., 2019, The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millenium, Cambridge University Press.
(ISBN: 978-1108431385.)
Schneider & Arny 2017, Pathways to Astronomy, 5th edn, McGraw-Hill College.
(ISBN; 978-1259722622.)

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 24.00
Examinations 2.00
Field Trips or Excursions 4.00
Online Discussion Board 12.00
Online Lectures 24.00
Online Tutorials 24.00
Private Study 72.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives Assessed Notes
Online Participation 5 5 12 Mar 2021 1,2,3,4,5,6
Computer Managed Assessment 35 35 27 May 2021 1,2,5
Open Examination - Take Home 60 60 End S1 1,2,3,4,5,6 (see note 1)

  1. This will be a take home exam. Students will be provided further instruction regarding the exam by their examiner via StudyDesk. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the Alternate Assessment Schedule has been released.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as online lectures, online tutorials, and practical work) scheduled for them, and 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. This includes the recorded lectures and tutorials. To maximise their chances of satisfying the objectives of the course, students should actively participate in the course discussion group – asking questions of their fellow students, and answering the questions posed by those students. This Online Participation will be assessed towards the end of semester, with students submitting their best questions and answers for grading by the course team.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    Due to COVID-19 the requirements for S1 2021 are:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

    Requirements after S1 2021:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course (i.e. the Primary Hurdle), and have satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), i.e. the end of semester examination by achieving at least 40% of the weighted marks available for that assessment item.

    Supplementary assessment may be offered where a student has undertaken all of the required summative assessment items and has passed the Primary Hurdle but failed to satisfy the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), or has satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised) but failed to achieve a passing Final Grade by 5% or less of the total weighted Marks.

    To be awarded a passing grade for a supplementary assessment item (if applicable), a student must achieve at least 50% of the available marks for the supplementary assessment item as per the Assessment Procedure (point 4.4.2).

  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:
    Due to COVID-19 the requirements for S1 2021 are:
    An Open Examination is one in which candidates may have access to any printed or written material and a calculator during the examination.

    Requirements after S1 2021:
    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:
    1. writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination);
    2. 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).
    3. Students may take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Normally Deferred and Supplementary Examinations are held in the next Examination period. In S1 2021 selected courses will pilot an early Deferred and Supplementary Examination period held within 30 business days of results release. The list of courses involved can be found at

  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. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be despatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  2. Electronic submission of assignments is required for this course. All submissions must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ study desk for this course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if requested by the Examiner.

  3. Reliable access to the internet is a requirement of this course as the course contains electronic assessment and submission elements. Online students who knowingly do not have reliable access to the internet should actively seek alternative internet access (e.g., Internet cafes, local libraries, or work places) for assessment submission. Online students are able to use the on-campus student computer laboratories once access has been enabled. To be granted access, Online students need to contact ICT and ask to have a student account enabled so that they can work on-campus.

  4. Students are expected to open their university provided email account and check it regularly for personal communication. In accordance with the Electronic Communication with Students Policy and Procedure ( information sent to the student's USQ email account will be regarded as being received.

  5. 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.

Evaluation and benchmarking

In meeting the University’s aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course:

1. conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement.

2. forms part of the Bachelor of Science (Astronomical and Space Sciences), and is benchmarked against the:
• internal USQ accreditation/reaccreditation processes which include (i) stringent standards in the independent accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning, and (iii) regular and rigorous review; and
• professional accreditation standards of the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP).

Other requirements

  1. Computer, e-mail and Internet access:
    Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at

  2. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in this course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect the same grades as those students who do possess them.

Date printed 18 June 2021