• Class Number 1633
  • Term Code 3120
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Emily Wisnioski
    • Dr Emily Wisnioski
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 14/12/2020
  • Class End Date 19/02/2021
  • Census Date 15/01/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 15/01/2021
SELT Survey Results

A research project in any area of astrophysics. This course can be taken in second year or later, and can be taken (for credit) many times if desired.

This is an Honours Pathway Course. Entry is by invitation only.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. plan and engage in an independent and sustained critical investigation and evaluation of a chosen research topic in the context of astronomy and astrophysics
2. systematically identify relevant theory and concepts, relate these to appropriate methodologies and evidence, and draw appropriate conclusions
3. engage in systematic discovery and critical review of appropriate and relevant information sources
4. appropriately apply statistical or other evaluation processes to original data
5. communicate research concepts and contexts clearly and effectively both in writing and orally

Research-Led Teaching

In this course you will carry out a research project, under the supervision of an astrophysics academic.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Your supervisor will give you feedback on your progress at each meeting.
  • You will be given written feedback on your literature review, and you can modify it to take this feedback into account and resubmit it.
  • Examiners comments on your final project report can be obtained on request from your supervisor.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 To enrol in the course, you need to find an academic astronomer who is prepared to supervise you, and you should agree on a project description with them. You and the supervisor should then e-mail the course convenor to let them know what you've agreed, and you will then be issued a permission code allowing you to enrol in the course. We expect the students to put in around 130 hours of work on the project (13 hours per week for the whole of session). A common problem is that students put off starting serious work on the project due to more urgent deadlines in their other courses. This is a very bad idea - you cannot expect to finish the project in a rush at the end and get a decent mark. A rough time-line might be: Weeks 1-2: extensive reading in the literature, understand the physics and astrophysics of your project and how your research fits into the field. Weeks 3-8 (including break): do the actual research. Weeks 9-10: write up what you've done as your final report. We would normally expect you to meet with your supervisor at least weekly, and to be able to show significant progress at each meeting. rough draft of a research paper, oral presentation and final report in research paper format

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Rough draft of a research paper 30 % * 1,2,3,5
Oral Presentation 10 % 19/02/2021 1,2,3,4,5
Final Report 60 % 19/02/2021 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


You are expected to put in around 13 hours work per week for the entire session, and to meet with or talk with your supervisor roughly every week.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5

Rough draft of a research paper

This should be submitted via Turnitin/Wattle or emailed to emily.wisnioski@anu.edu.au, by 5pm on the date negotiated between the student and the course convener at the start of the course. There is no mandated length, but around 5 pages might be typical.

The draft should include:

  • Title/author(s)
  • A very incomplete abstract. We don’t expect results at this point but it would be helpful to indicate what the results might be – so we know that you know where you are going with the research.
  • A concise introduction to the research topic. Why is it important? What other research has been done on this topic? Important background literature should be cited in this introduction and listed in the bibliography. Compare your research with what has already been published. Do not list all the things you have learned – your audience is other researchers who will already have some familiarity with the problem.
  • A figure or two illustrating and explaining the research. What have you been able to do so far? Sections on data and methods are usually appropriate, in which you describe what you have done and will do.

Marking Guidelines for Rough Draft of Research Paper (30% of final grade)

The Rough Draft of Research Paper is marked on three criteria. Each is marked on a 10-point scale.

  • Comprehensiveness: Did the student read widely, or just look at papers supplied by the supervisor? A thorough read of 3 - 4 papers supplied by the supervisor would score a 6/10. To go beyond this they need to have done extensive self-directed reading. Is the bibliography comprehensive?
  • Critical understanding of literature: Does the student understand what they have read? Are they just repeating facts, or do they understand them, and how they ?t into the big picture? 
  • Sensible and specific project plan: Does the student have a realistic understanding of their project, and what is required to bring it to completion? Do they understand how the project ?ts into the bigger ?eld of research?

These three marks will be averaged to give a final mark out of ten. Each write-up will be marked by the supervisor and by another examiner (usually the course convenor). Usually within a week after you submit this rough draft of a paper, you will receive a mark and constructive feedback on how to improve it. You will have the opportunity to resubmit a new version of this rough draft within a week after receiving feedback (~4 days). Usually within a week, you will be given more feedback and a new mark. The new mark will be the mark that counts.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 19/02/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Oral Presentation

You will give a 15 minute oral presentation (~10 minute talk + ~5 minutes questions) about your project. We will try to arrange all ASTR3005 presentations on the same day during the last week of the semester

Marking Guideline for Oral Presentation (10% of final grade)

The talks are marked on 1) presentation and 2) science. Each is marked out of 10. These two marks will be averaged to give a ?nal mark out of ten. For presentation, you want a clear, engaging, comprehensible explanation, pitched at an appropriate level, keeping to time. For science, you need to show that you understand what you've done and how it ?ts into the big picture.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 19/02/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final Report

This will be an updated version of the rough draft of a research paper you submitted earlier. There is no particular required length, but 20 pages is probably typical (if you have a lot of big figures, it may be larger). It should be submitted by Turnitin/Wattle or emailed to the course convener by 5pm on the last day of semester.

The grading criteria are:

Pass 50-59%:

The student has demonstrated some knowledge of the relevant background literature, but with serious gaps, and limited understanding;

The student applied relevant techniques and carried out research work, but needed considerable assistance and showed limited understanding of the procedures employed;

The student presented their results, though in a somewhat muddled and/or incomplete way.

Credit 60-69%:

As for Honours III, but in addition:

The student has demonstrated a reasonable knowledge of the relevant background literature, with only a few gaps, albeit in a somewhat uncritical way;

The student demonstrated that they had learned many of the relevant skills (which might include laboratory techniques, computer programming and statistical analysis);

The student presented their results in an appropriate format, and communicated them effectively.

Distinction 70-79%:

As for Honours IIB, but in addition:

The student has demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the relevant background literature, though still with limited critical appreciation;

The student demonstrated reasonable technical mastery of all the relevant skills;

The student presented their results and/or data clearly and succinctly

High Distinction 80-89%:

As for Honours IIA, but in addition:

The student has critically analysed the relevant background literature rather than merely summarising it;

The thesis demonstrates a clear appreciation of how their work fits in to the larger field of research;

The student demonstrated considerable technical mastery of all the relevant skills;

They showed some appreciation of the limitations of the experimental design or techniques used and have outlined future research directions that are feasible;

The student put forward their own useful and valid ideas relating to the project;

Amazing >90:

As above, but in addition:

The student obtained concepts and procedures independently from the literature and at least discussed a use for them in the study;

The student demonstrated impressive technical mastery of all the relevant skills;

They demonstrate a good understanding not only of the techniques they employed, but other alternative techniques and the reasons for choosing between them;

They have outlined possible future directions which are not merely feasible but which show considerable originality;

The student not only put forward useful and valid ideas relating to the project, but also demonstrated the ability to critically evaluate and act upon such ideas.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

Reports should be submitted electronically.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Sometimes illness or unforeseen research problems (i.e. a telescope or computer failure) can cause problems. In this situation, let the course convenor know as soon as possible, and an extension can be negotiated. Student disorganisation or inability to run software are not normally valid reasons for extensions (you should get the software figured out early in your project).

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Emily Wisnioski

Research Interests

Galaxy evolution, dynamics, star formation

Dr Emily Wisnioski

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Emily Wisnioski

Research Interests

Dr Emily Wisnioski

By Appointment
By Appointment

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