ASTR 311 (3 cr): Exploring the Universe: Stars and Galaxies

Course Description

This course introduces students to the components of the Universe beyond the solar system: the stars, galaxies, and the Universe as a whole.

Not for credit in the Faculties of Science or Applied Science. No background in science or mathematics is required.

Intended Student

This course will be of interest to those who want to broaden their understanding about astronomy and the Universe. This course is suitable for the non-science student who wants a survey of astronomy.

Students need not have any previous scientific background. The course is generally not open to first year students. This course provides a 3-credit senior science elective that may fulfill certain Arts degree program requirements.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Be a lifelong observer of nature, seeking the patterns behind what you see.
  • Decide and judge using quantitative reasoning.
  • Use the scientific method to synthesize and refine explanations for what you experience.
  • Explain how stars form, produce energy, and what happens when they exhaust their fuel.
  • Describe the various structures in the Universe, from groups of stars to the largest scales.
  • Outline the history of the Universe, from its formation until today and its possible futures.
  • Explain how life on Earth relies on the rest of the Universe.

Course Content Overview

The course is presented in 6 Modules:

Module A: Gravity and Measurement in Astronomy
Module B: The Sun and Stars: an Introduction
Module C: Star Formation, Evolution and Death
Module D: The Milky Way Galaxy and Other Galaxies
Module E: Galaxy Evolution and Dark Matter
Module F: Cosmology

Course Requirements

The requirements for this course (the basis for your course grade) are:

  • Six graded tutorial activities, 15% (best five count)
  • Six graded group discussions, 15% (best five count)
  • Four quizzes, 20%
  • Final exam, 50%

In addition, you must PASS THE FINAL EXAMINATION with an exam mark of at least 50%.

Course Materials

  • Online course notes (lecture notes): these are posted under “Learning Modules” on the course website Home Page
  • Textbook (required): available at the UBC Bookstore
    • Astronomy Today Volume 2: Stars and Galaxies
      Author: Eric Chaisson; Steve McMillan
      ISBN: 978-0-321-71863-1

ASTR 311 Textbook Order Form