Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


In this unit students learn about the various constituents and physical processes taking place in the interstellar medium (ISM) of galaxies, and how to use radio telescopes to detect the gas reservoirs out of which new stars are made. Upon completion of this unit, students should gain a broad knowledge of the physics of the ISM and should be able to read and understand current research papers on the topics of ISM and star formation. In addition, students should be able to carry out the end-to-end process of planning radio astronomy observations, implementing them, reducing raw telescope data, and analysing the resulting products to derive the basic physical properties of the gas reservoirs of galaxies.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) explain the physical principles underlying observational radio astronomy techniques; (2) explain how the various constituents of the interstellar medium interact physically with each other and connect with star formation in galaxies; (3) reduce radio observations of extragalactic sources; (4) critically evaluate recent astronomy and astrophysics research literature; and (5) apply critical thinking skills to a range of realistic physical situations, with particular emphasis on planning observations and reducing data.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) assignments; (2) laboratory report; and (3) final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Barbara Catinella and Dr Tobias Westmeier
Unit rules
completion of the core units in the Physics major or equivalent
Course Enrolment in
the 53560 Master of Physics
or the CM015 Bachelor of Science (Frontier Physics) and Master of Physics
Contact hours
Lectures: 4-hours per week
Laboratory work: 6-hours

This unit will be based on a number of recommended texts including:

Physics of the Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium, by Bruce T. Draine

Tools of Radio Astronomy, by Kristen Rohlfs et al.

Synthesis Imaging in Radio Astronomy II, by G.B Taylor et al.

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.