MSAR Programme Structure-Full Time

MSAR Programme Structure – Full-Time.
Module titles, Module Codes and outlines, Semester Type

MSc in Astrophysics and Relativity - Programme structure

Semester 1 - Core modules

Module Code Module Title  Credits Resit Category
EE514 Data Science and Machine Learning 7.5 1
MS536 Differential Geometry & General Relativity 7.5 1
MS509 Partial Differential Equations 7.5 1
PS526 Theoretical Astrophysics 7.5 1

Semester 2 - Core modules 

Module Code Module Title  Credits Resit Category
PS530 Computational Physics - Core 7.5 1
PS528 Extragalactic Astrophysics  5 1
PS529 High Energy Astrophysics  5 1
MS539 Gravitational Waves 7.5 1
MS540 Black Hole Physics 5 1

Semester 3 - Core module

Module Code Module Title  Credits Resit Category
FSH512 Project (Astrophysics and Relativity 30 2

Semester 1 - Module Outlines

EE514 Data Science and Machine Learning 

This module will equip students with the skills to handle and analyse large, complex data sets. Topics from probability, statistics and computing, and data science will be covered, and students will apply these in a variety of settings, including astrophysics and relativity. 

Essential Book Resources 

  • Trevor Hastie, Robert Tibshirani, Jerome Friedman 2009, The elements of statistical learning, Springer New York, N.Y. [ISBN: 9780387848570] 

MS536 Differential Geometry and General Relativity 

This module introduces students to General Relativity – Einstein’s geometric theory of the gravitational field – and provides them with the mathematical tools required for its study. General Relativity underpins a wide range of astrophysical phenomena where gravitation is the dominant force at work (black holes, the Big Bang, gravitational wave emission), and where precision measurements of phenomena influenced by gravity are important (the GPS system). The module includes the study of the conceptual foundations of GR and Einstein's equation and the applications of this theory to our universe. 

Essential Book Resources 

  • James B. Hartle 2002, Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity, Pearson [ISBN: 0805386629]
  • Eric Poisson and Clifford M. Will 2014, Gravity: Newtonian, Post-Newtonian and Relativistic, Cambridge [ISBN: 1107032865] 

MS509 Partial Differential Equations 

This module introduces students to both the methods and underlying theory of solving partial differential equations. Students will become familiar with first-order quasi-linear and second-order linear partial differential equations. A selection of analytic techniques for solving some partial differential equations that frequently occur in applications will be given. This module provides both a platform for modeling with partial differential equations and an introduction to analysing the nature of these equations. Students will develop an ability to critique the various solution methods and demonstrate a deep understanding of when and why they can be used. 

Essential Book Resources 

  • K.E. Gustafson, Differential Equations and Hilbert Space Methods, Wiley 
  • Y. Pinchover and J. Rubinstein, An Introduction to Partial Differential Equations, Cambridge U.P. I. Stakgold, Green's Functions and Boundary Value Problems, Wiley

PS526 Theoretical Astrophysics 

In this module, students will study the life cycle of stars of different masses, and study the role of radiative processes in a variety of astrophysical phenomena. They will analyse the key role of plasmas in astrophysics, and study the structure and formation of the interstellar medium. They will analyse and critique different models of stellar and galactic formation. 

Essential Book Resources 

  • J Binney & S Tremaine, Galactic Dynamics 
  • GB Rybicki and AP Lightman, Radiative processes in astrophysics 

Supplementary / Recommended Book Resources 

  • J Binney and M Merrifield, Galactic Astronomy 

Semester 2 - Module Outlines

PS530 Computational Physics

In this module, students will be introduced to the ideas of computational astrophysics including programming language paradigms, numerical methods, algorithms, stochastic methods, and high-performance computing. Students will have the option to learn and use different programming languages including Python, C, and C++.

Essential Book Resources 

  • Mark Newman, n/a [ISBN: 1480145513] 
  • Alejandro L. Garcia, n/a [ISBN: 1548865494] 

PS528 Extragalactic Astrophysics 

This module focuses on a general understanding of the properties of galaxies and the intergalactic medium, along with the different observational techniques used to study them. 

Supplementary / Recommended Book Resources 

  • Mo, van den Bosch & White, Galaxy Formation and Evolution 
  • P. Schneider, Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology 
  • Binney & Tremaine, Galactic Dynamics 
  • M. Longair, Galaxy Formation 
  • Klein & Fletcher, Galactic, and Intergalactic Magnetic Fields.

PS529 High Energy Astrophysics 

This module focuses on the non-thermal processes governing the high energy Universe, including radiative processes and particle acceleration. The objects of study range from our Sun to Active Galactic Nuclei, to Gamma Ray Bursts, and to the Universe as a whole. 

Essential Book Resources 

  • Malcolm S. Longair, High Energy Astrophysics [ISBN: 978-052175618]

MS539 Gravitational Waves 

The recent direct detection of gravitational waves has opened up a qualitatively new window into astronomy and fundamental physics, and this module provides students with a foundation in this area. The physics of gravitational waves will be developed in general relativity, from the generation and propagation of these waves through to their observable consequences. 

Supplementary / Recommended Book Resources 

  • KS Thorne and RD Blandford, Modern classical physics 
  • M Maggiore, Gravitational waves volume I 

MS540 Black Hole Physics 

This module covers both classical and quantum aspects of black holes. Topics include the no-hair conjecture, black hole formation, laws of black hole mechanics, Hawking radiation and black hole thermodynamics, black hole evaporation, and the information loss 'paradox'. 

Essential Book Resources 

  • Valeri P. Frolov and Igor D. Novikov 1998, Black Hole Physics, Springer [ISBN: 978-079235145]
  • Robert M. Wald 1984, General Relativity, University of Chicago Press [ISBN: 978-022687033]
  • Eric Poisson 2008, A Relativist's Toolkit, Cambridge University Press [ISBN: 978-052153780]

Semester 3 - Module Outline

FSH512 Project (Astrophysics and Relativity) 

In this module, students will work under an academic supervisor (a researcher from the Centre for astrophysics and Relativity) to carry out a project in the areas of astrophysics and/or relativity. Formal aspects of the module will help the students to develop research skills, technical writing skills and presentation skills. Students will have the option of pursuing a project in an area of their own choice, or in an area proposed by an academic member of the programme team.

Indicative project topics include: 

  • Investigating the GeV periodicity of gamma-ray binary systems 
  • Missing Baryons in the Shapley Super-cluster 
  • A convolutional neural network (CNN) for exoplanet detection 
  • Three-dimensional simulations of proto-planetary disks 
  • Modelling the Eclipse Profile of High Mass X-ray Binary Cen X-3 
  • The magneto-rotational instability in low-metallicity disks
  • Study of high-energy emissions from accreting and non-accreting γ-ray binaries
  • Particle detectors in black hole spacetimes 
  • Extended body dynamics in Petrov classified spacetimes
  • Vacuum metamorphosis model and its effects on the expansion of the Universe
  • Singularities in the early universe 
  • Cauchy horizon instability in charged black holes 
  • The Anti-Hawking effect in the BTZ black hole