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AS4010   Extragalactic Astronomy

Academic year(s): 2019-2020

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 15

ECTS credits : 7

Level : SCQF level 10

Semester: 1

Availability restrictions: Not automatically available to General Degree students

Planned timetable: 12 noon Mon, Tue, Thu

This module introduces the basic elements of extragalactic astronomy. This includes the morphological, structural and spectral properties of elliptical, spiral, quiescent and star-forming galaxies. We study how galaxy populations change from the distant galaxies in the early Universe into those observed in our local neighbourhood, including the coincident growth of super massive black holes at the centres of massive galaxies. Galaxy formation theory is introduced in relation to the growth of structure in a cold-dark matter Universe, and galaxy evolution in regions of high and low density is investigated. The module includes a look at modern instrumentation used in extragalactic astrophysics. Specialist lecturers from within the galaxy evolution research group will provide a direct link between material learnt in lectures and research currently being undertaken at the University of St Andrews.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must ( pass AS2001 or pass AS2101 ) and pass PH2011 and pass PH2012 and pass MT2501 and pass MT2503

Anti-requisite(s): You cannot take this module if you take AS3011 or take AS4022

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 3 lectures occasionally replaced by tutorials

Scheduled learning hours: 32

Guided independent study hours: 118

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: 2-hour Written Examination = 80%, Coursework (10% Class Test, 10% Computer Based Assignment) = 20%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 90%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 10%

Re-assessment: Oral Re-assessment, capped at grade 7


Module coordinator: Dr R M Fernandes Tojeiro Reynolds
Module teaching staff: Dr R Tojeiro

Additional information from school

Aims & Objectives

To be able to appreciate the various aspects of galaxy formation and evolution, and apply them to outcomes of modern extragalactic research activities.


Learning Outcomes

  • be able to obtain galaxy properties from observational evidence
  • be able to describe the differences in galaxy populations and properties over the course of the Universe in terms of galaxy evolution
  • be able to describe the formation of galaxies in terms of observational cosmology
  • be able to apply basic physical principles to galaxy evolution and formation processes
  • be able to apply material covered in the lectures to current research activities in extragalactic astrophysics



Galaxy Observations: Spectral Energy Distributions and Star Formation Histories

Galaxy Observations: Scaling Laws and Dynamics

Observational Cosmology

Galaxy Formation and Evolution

Supermassive Black Holes and Active Galactic Nuclei


Additional information on continuous assessment etc.

Coursework involves a Class Test (10%) and a computational exercise (10%).


Accreditation Matters

This module may not contain material that is part of the IOP “Core of Physics”, but does contribute to the wider and deeper learning expected in an accredited degree programme.  The skills developed in this module, and others, contribute towards the requirements of the IOP “Graduate Skill Base”.


Recommended Books

Please view University online record:


General Information

Please also read the general information in the School's honours handbook that is available via