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MPAGS - Astronomy

As a PhD member of the Astronomy Group you are also part of the Midlands Physics Alliance Graduate School, a joint school which for astronomy purposes comprises Birmingham, Keele, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick. Please note that the information below is relevant only for Warwick students, and local arrangements at other participating institutions may be different.

Part of this involves the offering of numerous courses, and you are required to attend (and pass) a set number of these, ideally over the first two years of your degree. The courses globally comprise approximately 30 CATs of material, an expectation of roughly 300 hours of work.

As MPAGS for astronomy has been running a limited time, there are different requirements for MPAGS workshops depending on your year of entry. For students entering in 2012/13 there are compulsory modules and skills workshops, as well as a choice of other modules. Below we list these, although optional modules can be taken from any of the MPAGS offerings, Masters level undergraduate courses, or external summer schools etc. If you are in doubt about whether an activity can be used as a substitution for a module then please contact Andrew Levan.


Skills training consists of three workshops run at each of Birmingham, Nottingham and Warwick. These are 1) Presentation Skills, 2) Proposal Writing and 3) Student Conference. The dates for each will be communicated to you in due course, but you are expected to attend.


The ideal of the reading programme is that it provides a broad base on understanding of astronomy topics. More information is given on the MPAGS website, but in general you should be working on the programme over the first two terms, with a viva taking place over the summer.


You are free to take modules from across the MPAGS remit, and may find this to be of use. You should take four modules in total. The modules offered by astrophysics groups are listed below. Please note that in order to pass the modules you must complete the relevant assessment, attendance at the course is not sufficient.

Astrophysical Techniques (Steeghs/Wheatley - Warwick)

Gravitational Wave Astronomy (Mandel - Birmingham)

Star Formation (Oliveira - Keele)

Dark Matter (Dye - Nottingham)

Stars (Gaensicke - Warwick and Miglio - Birmingham)

Fourier Techniques and Statistics (Marsh - Warwick and Speake - Birmingham)

An introducation to scientific computing with python (Bamford - Nottingham)

Note: For students starting in 2011/12 the requirement is for the reading list, participation in the workshops, and for two additional options. For students starting in 2012/13 or later the requirement is the same as above, but you should choose four additional options as indicated above.


MPAGS is a relatively new and developing activity for all of the astronomy groups involved. We welcome feedback as to how it may be improved and enhanced. Please feel free to email any comments to us.