This unit aims to cover the physical processes underlying stellar properties and the principles behind models of stellar evolution.

Teaching periods
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date
Study Period 3
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  • Explain the classification schemes of stars, their physical parameters and the importance of the HR diagram
  • Explain and summarise the mechanism of star formation and the evolution of stars from the main sequence through to the RGB and AGB phase
  • Appraise and state the processes and properties of high mass stellar remnants, including supernovae, planetary nebulae, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes
  • Solve mathematical problems related to the physical processes that underlie stellar properties and evolution
  • Explain and summarise stellar astrophysical concepts in a non-technical manner understandable to the general public
  • Design and create a research project on an astronomy topic, assessing and critiquing current knowledge, using credible sources of astronomical information, data and research articles

Teaching methods


Type Hours per week Number of weeks Total (number of hours)
Directed Online Learning and Independent Learning
12.50 12 weeks 150


Type Task Weighting ULO's
NewsgroupsIndividual 30% 1,2,3,4 
Online TestsIndividual 20% 1,2,3,5 
ProjectIndividual 50% 


  • Classifying stars: magnitudes, colours, spectral types; physical properties; stellar spectra; the HR diagram
  • Stellar energy: gravitational contraction versus fusion, stellar nucleosynthesis
  • Hydrostatic equilibrium and radiation pressure; equations of stellar structure; stellar atmospheres
  • Protostars: cloud collapse, initial mass function, evolutionary tracks and ZAMS
  • Main sequence stars: lifetime on the MS
  • Evolution off the main sequence: low mass versus high mass stars
  • Supernovae: explosive nucleosynthesis, supernovae  remnants
  • Neutron stars
  • Stellar mass black holes
  • Pulsating stars: the instability strip, helioseismology
  • Binary stars
  • Stellar clusters: types of clusters, open clusters and stellar evolution models, globular clusters; colour-magnitude diagrams

Study resources

Reading materials

A list of reading materials and/or required textbooks will be available in the Unit Outline on Canvas.