Physics of the Very Large

Queensland University of Technology

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Physics of the Very Large

  • Host University

    Queensland University of Technology

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    This unit introduces you to the physics that affects the universe on a large scale, stretching from the edge of the observable universe down to the Earth’s atmosphere, and addresses the underlying physics of some of the big questions of our time, for example dark energy and global warming. The topics presented include gravity, special relativity, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics and form a foundation for a degree in physics. Theory will be complemented by practical exercises.

    Learning Outcomes
    On completion of this unit, you will provide evidence of:
    1. Quantitative and qualitative scientific analysis of basic concepts of the physics of the macro universe.
    2. The collection and analysis of data using scientific equipment during practical experiments in laboratory settings.
    3. Critical reasoning and problem solving techniques (using data acquired or provided) to evaluate results.
    4. Communicating scientific arguments by producing written scientific reports incorporating visual representations of scientific concepts and numeric data, including the generation of graphs.
    5. Effective team participation including the capacity to give and receive feedback from peers.

    This unit covers five main topics. 
    Then first module begins with analysing the mechanics of objects in our everyday world. It begins with concepts of measurement and their implications for experimental verification, then applies those concepts to describing and predicting the motion of objects. We will see how Newton's Laws can help us to explain a wide range of these large object phenomena, and how motion, forces and energy are related.

    The second module covers the basics of fluid mechanics (hydrostatics and hydrodynamics), particularly relevant to understanding the oceans and atmosphere. You will be introduced to the concept of buoyancy (Archimedes' principle) and flow in tubes, e.g. siphons, using the Bernoulli and Poiseuille equations. 

    The next module covers astronomy: our models of the universe from ancient times until now; the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets; the origin of the universe (Big Bang); how stars form, live and die; exotic and powerful bodies such as black holes; and the large scale structure of the universe as we understand it today. We also see how our optical instruments such as lenses, mirrors and telescopes work and how they have transformed our perception of our place in the universe. 

    The final module introduces you to Einstein's theory of special relativity in which you will discover that space and time are not as they appear, but are part of the same fabric of the universe. We see how Einstein's simple yet powerful ideas are able to explain where solar and nuclear power come from, and the motions of everything from spaceships to subatomic particles.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.