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AS4015   Gravitational and Accretion Physics

Academic year(s): 2018-2019

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 15

ECTS credits : 7

Level : SCQF Level 10

Semester: 2

Availability restrictions: Not automatically available to General Degree students

Planned timetable: 9.05 am - 12.00 noon Mon, Wed, Fri

This theoretical module is open to both physics and astrophysics students. It aims to explore the basics of gravitational dynamics and its application to systems ranging from planetary and stellar systems to clusters of galaxies. The dynamics responsible for the growth of super-massive black holes in galaxies and the accretion discs in stellar systems are also covered. Starting from two-body motion and orbits under a central-force law, the module describes the calculation of extended potentials and their associated orbits. The use of the virial theorem and the statistical treatment of large numbers of selfgravitating bodies is then developed with application to stellar systems. Applications of these methods are made to several different astrophysical objects ranging from collisions in globular clusters to the presence of dark matter in the universe.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must pass PH2011 and pass PH2012 and pass MT2501 and pass MT2503 and (pass PH3081 or pass PH3082 or (pass MT2506 and pass mt2507))

Anti-requisite(s): You cannot take this module if you take or have taken AS4021

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 3 lectures occasionally replaced by whole-group tutorials.

Scheduled learning hours: 32

Guided independent study hours: 118

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: 2-hour Written Examination = 100%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 100%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 0%

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

Additional information from school

Please see also the information in the School's Handbook for Honours modules available via This link also gives access to timetables for the modules


Module teaching staff: TBC