Astronomy and Black Holes - 2018

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 2
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: SP1 , SP2
  • Availability for 2018: SP1 , SP2
  • Assessment: Assignment - Major Written Assignment (36%) , Assignment 1 - Mid-semester Assignment (16%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2018 Fees
Domestic 1,169.00
HECS 1,169.00
International 1,419.00

This unit is a general science elective for students without a science background. It provides an introduction to some of the key concepts in astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. An understanding of stars, galaxies, black holes and the universe in general is developed. In addition, students are invited to research their own area of interest in astronomy to a depth dictated by their own ability.

The primary capabilities developed by this unit are:

Application capability: solve problems using knowledge of the basic laws of physics in an astronomical context; calculate the age and size of the observable universe; calculate basic properties of stars at all stages of their lifecycle. 

  1. Knowledge capability: understand the basics of astronomical observation, and the determination of stellar properties; understand the processes leading to the formation and lifecycle of stars; understand stellar death and the formation of black holes from gravitational collapse; understand the meaning of singularity, event horizon and Schwarzschild radius and how they relate to Black Holes; describe and predict the basic properties of the universe, its age, size and fate; understand the fundamental assumptions of modern cosmology
  2. Analysis capability: differentiate between the different forces governing stellar processes, including thermonuclear reactions, gravitational collapse, stellar pressure and the Pauli exclusion principle; be able to classify different stars based on simple spectral data and predict the future form this star will take using an H-R diagram; explain the Big Bang hypothesis and contrast this to competing theories of the formation of our Universe; relate the observational evidence for Black Holes to the theory of their size and effect on surrounding matter
  3. Comprehension capability: grasp the tension between thermonuclear reactions and gravitational collapse which drives stars throughout their life and which produces cataclysmic results in the death of some; differentiate between the quantities which characterise our Universe and explain what each measures.
  • Assignment — Major Written Assignment (36%)
  • Assignment 1 — Mid-semester Assignment (16%)
  • Test — Online tests (10% each) (48%)

A knowledge of secondary school mathematics is assumed

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Introduction to Astronomical Observations & Measurement
2Physical Characteristics of Stars
3Birth, Life and Death of Stars
4Black Holes - Theory and Observations
5Introduction to Cosmology

Each unit offered through OUA provides students with unit information that includes assessment topics and due dates, policy information and contact numbers for university support and academic staff. Study materials will also clearly outline each week's topic, readings, student activities and the format of all assessment.

This unit is an approved elective in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.
This unit does not have a prescribed textbook(s).

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