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Galaxies and Cosmology


Admission requirements

A strong background in physics and math is required. The student should be familiar with the Analysis and Linear Algebra courses of the first year, as well as with Classical Mechanics and Introduction to Astrophysics.


This course studies the application of physics to the understanding of astronomical phenomena related to galaxies and cosmology. Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe. They contain stars, gas, black holes, and dark matter – a component of the universe which has not yet been identified. A good understanding of galaxies is critical for a good understanding of the Universe and its contents. By studying galaxies and cosmology, we ultimately seek to understand how a very smooth universe at early times produced the wealth of structure we see now.

Course objectives

This lecture series gives an introduction into galaxies and cosmology. In this, we will ask (and try to answer!) three fundamental questions:

  1. What are the components and structure of galaxies?
  2. Why do galaxies look the way they look?
  3. Why does the large scale structure of the Universe look the way it does?

We will cover topics including (but not limited to) those related to mapping our Milky Way, the dynamics and structure of stellar systems, galaxy groups and clusters, the presence of dark matter, central supermassive black holes, the expanding Universe, the formation of structure, and the earliest galaxies.

Soft skills

In this course, students will be trained in the following behaviour-oriented skills:

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)

  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence)

  • Structured thinking (structure, modulated thinking, computational thinking, programming)

  • Responsibility (ownership, self-discipline, bear mistakes, accountability)

  • Motivation (commitment, pro-active attitude, initiative)

  • Self-regulation (independence, self-esteem, aware of own goals, motives and capacities)

  • Verbal communication (presenting, speaking, listening)

  • Written communication (writing skills, reporting, summarizing)

  • Collaboration (teamwork, group support, loyalty, attendance)

  • Flexibility (adaptability, dealing with change, teachability, eagerness to learn)

  • Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)

  • Creative thinking (resourcefulness, curiosity, thinking out of the box)

  • Integrity (honesty, moral, ethics, personal values)


See Schedules bachelor Astronomy 2017-2018

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

Assessment method

Homework assignments: 30%
Written exam: 70%, see Examination schedules Astronomy bachelor 2017-2018


Blackboard will be used to post the lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. Students should enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. To have access, you need an ULCN account. More information:

Reading list

  • Galaxies in the Universe: An Introduction, Sparke & Gallagher (2nd edition), ISBN 9780521671866, download here (required)

  • An Introduction to Modern Cosmology, Liddle (2nd edition), ISBN 9781118723418, download here (recommended)


Register via uSis. More information about signing up for classes and exams can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to register. For a la carte and contract registration, please see the dedicated section on the Prospective students website.

Contact Information

Lecturer: Dr. Jackie Hodge
Assistants: Maria Cristina Fortuna, Lukasz Tychoniec, Kirsty Butler