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Course Overview

The syllabus includes eight lecture courses split between the Michaelmas and Lent terms. These lecture courses come in two flavours: those which teach the fundamental physics underlying the rest of the course; and those which apply these concepts to particular astronomical subject areas.

The style throughout requires minimal memorizing of descriptive terminology, and avoids the simple quoting and application of complicated formulae. Rather, lecturers will concentrate on the derivations of fundamentals from first principles, and the teaching of basic understanding.

There is also an examinable coursework component (comprising about 1/8 of the marks) for which students have two options: an extended essay, selected from a list of titles on contemporary research issues, or two or more CATAM computer projects, which are organized by the Mathematics Faculty and include astrophysical options.

Useful Links*

* (for reference only - changes may be impleted from year to year)

Prerequisites & Application

Students entering Part II via the Natural Sciences Tripos

In the Easter Term, all Part IB NST students will be asked to complete an online form detailing which department they wish to study with in Part II. Once the allocations have been made, students will be notified by the NST Coordinator, who will also advise the College Tutorial office to finalise the transfer on CamSIS.

Students entering Part II via the Mathematics Tripos

Students wishing to change from Part IB Maths to Part II Astrophysics must seek the approval of their Director of Studies, who will then advise the College Tutorial office to finalise the transfer on CamSIS.

It is helpful for the Institute of Astronomy to know of your intention to take the course by the end of the previous Easter term so we can keep you informed of introductory lectures and arrange supervisions in good time. To register your interest, please complete this form.


Preliminary Reading

It is presumed that most of you will have studied Physics A, Physics B and Mathematics in Part IB of the Natural Sciences Tripos or have taken Part IB of the Mathematical Tripos. If not, the course coordinator will advise if extra preliminary reading is required.

Part IB Computational Projects

In order that all students are well equipped for the course, we strongly recommend that all students entering Part II Astrophysics from Natural Sciences IB (i.e. anyone who did *not* take IB of the Mathematical Tripos) complete two computational (CATAM) projects over the summer. The aim of this exercise is to familiarise students with what is required in a CATAM-style write up and the feedback provided in the Michaelmas Term will be invaluable, particularly to students who then opt to submit CATAM projects as examinable work for Part II Astrophysics. 

Whilst there is no examination credit attached to this exercise, completion of at least one CATAM project over the summer is essentially compulsory for entrants from Natural Sciences IB. Students who have not attempted a IB CATAM project are at a significant disadvantage when making their choice between CATAM projects or an Essay for the Part II Astrophysics exams.

Full details of these assignments are emailed to students early in the summer.

Useful Links*

* (for reference only - changes may be impleted from year to year)