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Postgraduate | SWI-AST80004-2023

Exploring Stars and the Milky Way

Revolve around the Milky Way and classify stars. Illuminate stellar lifecycles from the birth of dazzling white dwarfs to fading red giants. Get deeply topical. Discuss dark matter and raise awareness of modern theory. Map out an astronomical topic. 

Study method

100% online


100% online

Entry requirements

Part of a degree


13 weeks

Start dates

  • 27 Feb 2023

FEE-HELP available

About this subject

What you'll learn

Students who successfully complete this subject will be able to:

  1. Identify the way stars are classified and recognise the approaches used to discover their properties
  2. Explain and summarise the principles involved in the life cycle of stars, from protostar to stellar remnants
  3. Appraise and state the basic principles and concepts about our Galaxy and its constituents (stars, protostars, stellar remnants, gas clouds, dark matter) in a non- technical way understandable to the wider public
  4. Judge the limits of our understanding of our place in the Galaxy, and interpret the role of dark matter in modern astronomical theories
  5. Use problem solving skills to explain and synthesise solutions to problems in stellar astronomy
  6. Design and create an essay on an astronomy topic, assessing and critiquing current knowledge, using credible sources of astronomical information and research articles
    • The bulk properties and structure of the Sun
    • Distance, magnitudes, colours and luminosity of stars
    • Spectral lines and spectral types of the stars
    • The interstellar medium and the birth of stars
    • The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and the ZAMS
    • Life on the main sequence, lifetime and mass-luminosity relations
    • Evolution of a solar mass star: red giants, planetary nebulae and white dwarfs
    • Variable stars
    • Supernovae, supernovae remnants and creation of the elements
    • End products: neutron stars, pulsars, black holes
    • Gamma ray bursts: observations and theory
    • Binary star systems, open clusters and globular clusters
    • The structure of the Milky Way, the galactic centre, dark matter
  • This subject aims to provide an introduction to the birth, life and death of stars and the structure of our Galaxy. The emphasis is on conceptual astronomy rather than mathematical techniques.

    • Test (20%)
    • Newsgroups (30%)
    • Essay (50%)
  • For textbook details check your university's handbook, website or learning management system (LMS).

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Entry requirements

Part of a degree

To enrol in this subject you must be accepted into one of the following degrees:


  • SWI-AST-GCE-2023 - Graduate Certificate of Science (Astronomy)


  • UNE-PRO-GCE-2023 - Graduate Certificate in Professional Practice
  • OUA-PSU-GCE-2023 - Postgraduate Single Subjects

Equivalent subjects

You should not enrol in this subject if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • SWI-HET603 (Not currently available)

Additional requirements

No additional requirements

Related degrees

Once you’ve completed this subject it can be credited towards one of the following degrees

Open Universities Australia - Logo


Postgraduate Single Subjects