PROGRAMME SPECIFICATION Programme title: Final award (BSc, MA etc):

Programme title:
MSci Astrophysics
Final award (BSc, MA etc):
(where stopping off points exist they should be
detailed here and defined later in the document)
UCAS code:
(where applicable)
Cohort(s) to which this programme
specification is applicable:
September 2003 onwards
(e.g. from 2015 intake onwards)
Awarding institution/body:
University College London
Teaching institution:
University College London
Parent Department:
Physics and Astronomy
(the department responsible for the administration of
the programme)
Departmental web page address:
(if applicable)
Method of study:
Full time
Criteria for admission to the
AAA-AAB including A in Maths, A in Physics and A-B in Theoretical
Length of the programme:
4 academic years
(please note any periods spent away from UCL, such
as study abroad or placements in industry)
Level on Framework for Higher
Education Qualifications (FHEQ)
(see Guidance notes)
Relevant subject benchmark statement
(see Guidance notes)
Brief outline of the structure of the
(see guidance notes)
Masters Level (Level 7)
8 1/2 units per year, made up of core courses, practicals and a
choice of optional courses in years 2 & 3. Opportunity for Field trip to
research observatory in Year 3. Year 4 has 5 optional half-units and a
1.5-unit project. Assessment by unseen examinations, coursework
problems, lab and observatory reports, essays, reports and oral
Board of Examiners:
Name of Board of Examiners:
Boards of Examiners in Physics and Astronomy
Professional body accreditation
(if applicable):
Institute of Physics
Date of next scheduled
accreditation visit: Nov. 2016
To encourage students to develop critical modes of thought and study, to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the
subject and to develop a range of technical and inter-personal skills. They should be prepared for a wide variety of
careers, both within professions connected directly with astrophysics or in a wide range of other activities.
The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding,
qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:
A: Knowledge and understanding
Knowledge and understanding of:
1. Theoretical structure of the core topics
in Physics, Astrophysics and Astronomy
with a selection of advanced research
topics, sufficient to allow informed choice
of a field of postgraduate study.
2. The mathematical basis of
3. The structure of compiled computer
Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
1 and 2. Lectures with associated problem sheets and
tutorials. Access to recommended textbooks and web
3. Lectures and workstation-based courses in two years
and (optionally) third year.
1 and 2. Unseen examinations. Continuous assessment
marks from problem sheets.
3. Online testing of computing knowledge.
B: Skills and other attributes
Intellectual (thinking) skills:
1. Application of their knowledge to
unseen problems.
2. Ability to combine mathematics and
verbal explanation in a coherent rigorous
Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
1 and 2. Fortnightly problem-sheets on all courses,
supported by tutorial discussion. Special problem solving
classes with staff and postgraduate supervision in first
two years.
1 and 2. Unseen written examination. In-course
assessment problem sheets used in coursework mark.
C: Skills and other attributes
Practical skills (able to):
1. Carry out laboratory and observatory
experiments to demonstrate physical
principles and measure constants of
2. Use spreadsheet package to present
and calculate physics results.
3. Present results with appropriately
calculated errors.
4. Report experimental results clearly and
5. Work in a team to tackle an open
ended scientific problem and present joint
6. Use computer packages for wordprocessing, webpage management and
manipulation of mathematical functions.
7. Use compiled or interpreted computer
languages to write original programs.
8. Design an experiment and/or
computer-based investigation to study
and solve an open-ended research
Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
1. Set experiments, starting simply in first year; more
open ended in later years. Close advice and supervision.
2, 6 and 7. Workstation-based hands-on courses;
first year and second year Python, third year object
oriented programming option (Java).
3. Supplementary lectures linked to set experiments.
4. Preparation of workbooks and detailed reports.
5. Field trip, involving observations, data reduction and
research analysis.
8. 1.5-unit final-year project.
1, 3 and 4. Grading of lab and observatory reports.
2, 6 and 7. Online testing and written exercises.
5. Oral presentation. Observation of group process.
Written report.
8. Observation of progress. Written and oral reports.
D: Skills and other attributes
Transferable skills (able to):
Write clear accounts of scientific subjects
at a level appropriate to audiences
ranging from complete lay-people to fully
qualified colleagues.
Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
Communications Skills course, involving essays, reports
and oral presentations running over the first two years.
Essays, reports and presentations marked and included
separately in the scheme for award of honours
The following reference points were used in designing the programme:
 the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications
 the relevant Subject Benchmark Statements (;
 the programme specifications for UCL degree programmes in relevant subjects (where applicable);
 UCL teaching and learning policies;
 staff research.
Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the
learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes
full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information on the learning outcomes,
content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each course unit/module can be found in the
departmental course handbook. The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually
by UCL and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.
Programme Organiser(s)
Dr Stan Zochowski
Programme Tutor, Physics and Astronomy
Date of Production:
August 2003
Date of Review:
November 2014
Date approved by Head of
November 2014
Date approved by Chair of
Departmental Teaching
Date approved by Faculty
Teaching Committee
November 2014
February 2015