Important dates

Please note that some of the 1st semester honours courses may run slightly into the semester break.

Honours coursework rules

  1. 50 per cent of the honours assessment in astronomy and astrophysics is for a research project (ASTR4005).
  2. Students are required to do 24 units of coursework for the other 50 per cent of their honours assessment.
  3. Up to 24 units (6 units per course) are to be selected from the list below.
  4. ASTR6002, ASTR6007 and EMSC6022 may be taken, unless students have taken them as third year subjects already (the equivalent third year subjects are ASTR3002, ASTR3007 and EMSC3022).
  5. Some courses (e.g. Diffuse Matter in the Universe, High Energy Astrophysics, Astrophysical Gas Dynamics, and Stellar Atmospheres and Spectroscopy) may be given in alternate years. This ensures that the broadest range of courses are available to Masters and PhD students, but does mean that honours students may not have their chosen specialist course available.
  6. Additional 6 units may be selected from suitable courses in physics or maths to approval by the astronomy & astrophysics honours convenor. Possible examples include: A unit from the physics honours program. One of the computational modelling units in the Bachelor of Computational Science honours program. One of the units in the mathematics honours program.
  7. For the honours degree, students have to take up to five courses in total. This can be either all five courses offered by RSAA (see list below) or equivalent honours courses from geology, physics or maths.
  8. A minimum of three courses offered by RSAA have to be taken.

Recommended honours courses

Syllabi can be found by clicking on the Programs and Courses website links below.

ASTR6007: Stars  (6 units)

Offered in: 1st Semester

ASTR6002: Galaxies and Cosmology (6 units)

Offered in: 2nd Semester

ASTR4003: High Energy Astrophysics (6 units)

Offered in: 1st Semester

Syllabus: The course is based on the theoretical development of non-thermal emission processes from relativistically moving plasma containing high energy relativistic particles and the inference of source parameters from the observation of non-thermal emission in the radio through to the high energy gamma ray region of the spectrum.

ASTR4004: Astronomical Computing (6 units)

Offered in: 2nd Semester

ASTR4006: Galaxies (6 units)

Not offered in 2019

Syllabus: The course begins with an overview of galaxies at all redshifts in the Universe, introduces the basic tools for their study and proceeds to analyse the properties of disk, elliptical and dwarf galaxies, as well as discussing the formation of galaxies.

ASTR4008: Star Formation (6 units)

Not offered in 2019


ASTR4011: Observational Techniques - (6 units)

Offered in: 1st Semester

Syllabus: The course covers basic techniques required to obtain and analyse astronomical observations: including photometric systems, measurement errors, optics, telescope and instrument optics and detector systems, spectroscopy and imaging systems.

ASTR4012: Astrophysical Gas Dynamics (6 units)

Not offered in 2019

Syllabus: The course systematically develops the fundamental equations of gas dynamics including magnetic fields. These equations are then used to study astronomical flows in a number of different environments such as stellar winds, wind-driven bubbles, interstellar shock waves, supernova blast waves, accretion disks and jets. Through the study of these specific examples, the course develops a good general physical and mathematical understanding of the transport of mass, momentum and energy in astrophysics.

ASTR4015: Stellar Atmospheres and Spectroscopy (6 units)

Offered in: 2nd Semester

Syllabus: The course is based on the theoretical development of the transfer of radiation through the atmospheres of stars, determining how the emergent spectrum may be used to determine the chemical composition of stars. Other aspects of stars related to their atmospheres are also examined; these include magnetic activity and stellar winds.

ASTR4017: Diffuse Matter in the Universe - (6 units)

Offered in: 1st Semester

Syllabus: The course covers the following topics: The diffuse universe; line emission processes; collisional excitation; line transfer effects; collision ionisation equilibrium; cooling plasmas; interstellar shocks; theory of photo-ionised regions; parameters of photo-ionised regions and interstellar dust.

EMSC6022: - Planetary Science (6 units)

Offered in: 2nd Semester

Syllabus: This course provides an introduction to planetary geology with a view to understanding what makes planet Earth so special in a galactic context. We will explore the solar system and humans' place in it. We will examine the essential ingredients for life on planets and how the planets come by them. We will step back in time to examine the earliest solar system, going back to the origin of the elements themselves and the processes that have occurred in carrying matter from where it formed to where it can build new solar systems. The conditions on individual planets appears to be the result of many stochastic processes and it can be concluded that our solar system is the end-product of many accidental and chance events, leading to a philosophical discussion of whether planets similar to Earth will be discovered elsewhere in the universe.

How to apply

Please refer to the ANU College of Science Honours website for more information and application deadlines.