PEDAGOGICAL FOUNDATION.
During the First academic year (three quarters) a graduate student is
expected to take the seven Ay 121-127 courses in astronomy, as well as
two or three of the four required electives outside of astronomy,
in closely related fields. The purpose of these courses is to give
the student a sound pedagogical foundation in astronomy/astrophysics
and appropriate background in physics.
As a complement to the astrophysics core, we highly recommend
for the physics requirement Ph 136 a,b (and c when offered), and Ph 101;
we suggest that two of your four electives should be chosen from among these 4 courses.
Below is a nonexclusive menu of course titles for your consideration.
Please consult information from the registrar for the latest in any given year,
and note that for most of these courses with ab or abc listings, that
the terms may be taken independently (i.e. you can take a only, without bc,
and you can usually take b without having taken a, though do consult about this
latter piece of advice). Also note that any prerequisites are typically meant
to apply to undergraduate enrollees.
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All astronomers ought to be familiar with the following topics:
Ph 101. Order-of-Magnitude Physics
Ph 103. Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy
Ph 136 abc. Applications of Classical Physics (optics, hydrodynamics, plasma physics, basic GR)
Ph 236 abc. Relativity
Ph 237. Gravitational Waves
ACM 101 ab. Methods of Applied Mathematics.
Data analysts and computational modelers may find useful:
ACM 106 ab. Introductory Methods of Computational Mathematics
ACM/CS 114 ab. Parallel Algorithms for Scientific Applications
ACM/EE 116. Probability (basic and intermediate)
CMS/ACM/EE 117. Probability and Stochastic Processes
CMS/CS/CNS/EE 155 and 156a. Machine Learning Data Mining
ACM/CS 157. Statistical Inference
ACM/CS 158. Mathematical Statistics
Ma 112 ab. Statistics
Ay 190. Computational Astrophysics.
Radio astronomers and other instrumentalists may find useful:
EE 111. Signal-Processing Systems and Transforms
EE 112. Introduction to Digital Signal Processing
Physics/EE 118 ab: Low-Noise Electronic Measurement (VERY good for instrumental/observer types)
EE 125. Digital Electronics and Design with FPGAs and VHDL
APh/EE 130. Electromagnetic Theory.
Theoretical astrophysicists may find the following useful:
APh/Ph/Ae 116. Physics of Thermal and Mass Transport in Hydrodynamic Systems
Ae/Ge/ME 160 ab. Continuum Mechanics of Fluids and Solids
APh 156 abc. Plasma Physics
Ph 127 abc. Statistical Physics (thermodynamics/statistical mechanics, critical phenomena)
Ph 129 bc. Mathematical Methods of Physics
Physics 205. Relativistic Quantum Field Theory
Physics 230. Elementary Particle Theory
Physics 231. High Energy Physics.
Exoplanet enthusiasts may find the following useful:
Ge 131. Planetary Structure and Evolution
Ge/Ay 132. Atomic and Molecular Processes in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences
Ge/Ay 137. Planetary Physics (orbital dynamics)
Ge/ESE 139. Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation.
Practical programming skills are offered through:
CS 111 which has tracks for different programming languages
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Theory students may be exempted from Ay 122, and they are expected
to take at least six electives rather than only four.
In each of the astronomy subjects, the student is expected to obtain
a B or better grade, with C or better acceptable in the electives
(we require that no more than two of the electives be taken P/F, and prefer that zero are taken P/F).
The lecturers of the astronomy courses, in the spirit of
the need for a sound pedagogical foundation, should design the
grading scheme to test the knowledge acquired by the student. Many courses
use oral mid-term exams and written, closed-book, final exams,
in addition to weekly problem sets. Each lecturer should report
not only the grade but also strengths and weaknesses of the student
(based, for example, on the homeworks and in-class interactions) to the option representative.
At the discretion of the Executive Officer (EO), students who have failed
to meet the above grade minimums will be re-tested in specific courses during
or in addition to the regular Qualifying Exam.
RESEARCH.
We expect all of our First year students to undertake significant research
during the first 12 months. The research program can be modest during
the 9 academic months but is expected to ramp us significantly
by the 3-month Summer quarter. The student is free to choose
the research advisor and the particular project. Research credits may be
earned through Ay 142, or if only e.g. reading and attending group meetings
but not doing any actual development work, then Ay 143 is more appropriate.
Students may conduct research related activities without signing up
for Ay142/143; many more than the minimum number of required units in these
research "courses" will be attained over the duration of the Ph.D.
We have designed a system to cater to students entering graduate school
with different levels of preparedness: some students may wish to explore
different alternatives for research during the first two years, while
others may already have a clear idea of which area of research they wish to
work in. The present system was set up to make it easy for you to choose
the approach best suited to your needs. Should you be unsure of the area
in which you would like to specialize, then you are encouraged to explore
different possibilities during your first two years.
The option holds the strong view that students should be involved deeply
in research as soon as possible. After all, undertaking research is the
prime goal of any graduate program. We do recognize that some students
come from an undergraduate program with little or no astronomy background.
The best plan for such students may often be to concentrate on the course
work during their first three quarters. On the other hand, students with
strong astronomy backgrounds are encouraged to undertake research as early
as possible during the academic year. Some students arrive early, during
Summer period before the First year, to engage in research.
Regardless of entry point (summer before, during academic year, summer after),
all First year students are expected to be engaged in serious research.
In consultation with an advisor, the student is expected to carry out
a small research project that will be presented as part of the Qualifying Exam.
While not essential, we do recommend that the project be chosen so that
the end result (which make take beyond the time of the Qualifying Exam)
is a publishable paper.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
Preparation for independent research requires not only deep familiarity
with a particular specialized field, but also a broad understanding of
other areas of astronomy and their interconnections. To this end, we
expect students to broaden their horizon by attending (at the very least)
the weekly colloquim and participating in the Journal club and seminar
courses (e.g. Ay 2xx series classes when offered). As part of general
responsibility for your own graduate education, you should also engage in
self study of review papers in various fields.
The option representative is the default academic advisor of all first-year
and second-year students in Ay. During this time period students will also engage
in research, so will have a research advisor. We encourage each student
to identify - in addition to the above - another member of the faculty
who can serve as a professional mentor. Students should report the mentor choice
to the option representative towards the end of the first academic year
when sufficient familiarity with the faculty has been made.