AST80014 (formerly HET619) - Major Project: Astronomy & Astrophysics

Unit Instructor:

A/Prof Virginia Kilborn

Unit Outline:

This Unit will enable students to develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the principles involved in a particular aspect or application of astronomy and/or astrophysics, and provides practical experience in the techniques involved in astronomy and/or astrophysics. Students will develop their ability to keep a comprehensive record of experimental investigations, to write a detailed summary report of techniques used and investigations undertaken, and to communicate effectively about the outcomes of their work.

Writing your project proposal

The outline of this unit are deliberately quite vague so that a wide range of project topics can potentially be accommodated. It should be noted, however, that all students must submit a project proposal before their enrolment in the unit can be approved. This unit is designed for students who already have their own projects ideas - suggested project topics will not be provided. Note that this Major Project is not just an extended "normal" SAO project - students are expected to be actively involved in a research project of their own design, which might be observational, computational, use astronomical data archives, involve interviews etc.

Your project proposal must include: the project title, the project aims and objectives, your proposed method of research, and (if possible) expected outcomes, plus references if appropriate. If your project depends on specific resources, you must demonstrate that these resources are available to you.

Proposals should be two pages (with references) and must be submitted to the SAO Coordinator at least six weeks before Week 0 of the semester begins to allow time for discussion about your proposal and for supervisors to be found for approved projects.

Format of the Unit:

The basic components of this Major Project unit will be:

  1. A major project, which students must bring to the unit! Project topics must be approved before students can complete their enrolment in this unit (see above).
  2. A Scientific Justification, which is to be completed by the end of Week 3. Students must write a 3 page scientific justification of their project, clearly outlining the project aims, objectives and expected outcomes, as well as a detailed timetable of the project for the remainder of the semester. The purpose of the outline is to clearly establish that students understand what they need to do for their project and understand the science behind it. The scientific justification should also include a brief literature review of the subject area.
  3. Newsgroups will be used for general discussions of techniques and problems encountered, as well as for Project Diary postings, whereby students are expected to make brief weekly postings of what they accomplished, learned or tested that week. These submissions will not be marked but are a compulsory part of all Major Project units. Students must submit Project Diary postings in at least 10 of the available weeks throughout the semester (covering both the minor and major project components), otherwise they may receive a fail grade on their final project report. Note also that there is generally less interaction between students in Major Project units as people are working on their own projects.
  4. The Major Project report must be submitted at the end of semester (Week 12). The project report should be about 20 pages or as negotiated with the project supervisor as different types of projects may vary in length substantially.
  5. A final Poster is to be submitted at the end of Week 13, in the style of a non-specialist conference poster. The poster should provide a general overall summary of the project, presented in a single A0 poster-sized page (with images, tables and references), written so as to be able to be understood by your fellow AST80014 students.

Note that Major Project Units, including this one, do not have any associated course content.

Previous AST80014 Project titles (a sample)

  • A Possible Break in the Fundamental Plane of Black Hole Activity at Low Eddington Fractions
  • A Curious Mass Gap
  • A Satellite Survey of Terrestrial Impact Features across Outback Australia
  • A Statistical Analysis of the Properties of K and M dwarf stars and Planetary Systems in relation to their Galactic Orbital Eccentricities
  • Habitability of Exomoons located in Star Habitable Zones
  • The Evolution and Fate of Cataclysmic Variables
  • How the Evolution of Star Systems affect their Habitable Zones during their Main Sequence life cycles
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