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Specialisation Module: Space Physics
Identification number

180 h


1st - 3rd Semester
Offered Every



1 semester
1 Course types
a) Lecture
b) Exercise
Contact time
45 h
30 h
Private study
45 h
60 h
2 Module objectives and skills to be acquired

Understanding the space environment around the earth, other planetary bodies and the solar wind. Understanding basic properties of space plasmas including their mathematical/physical descriptions. The acquired skills are the applications of mathematical/physical tools from statistical mechanics and fluid dynamics as applied to plasmas. Derivations of the plasma descriptions from first principles. Non-specific skills: Critical assessment of scientific knowledge.
3 Module content
  • Introduction into space plasmas
  • Single particle dynamics
  • Kinetic theory (Boltzmann and Vlasow equation)
  • Derivation of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) equations
  • Properties of MHD fluids
  • Waves in plasmas
  • Shocks and discontinuities
  • Instabilities
  • Magnetospheres, solar wind, aurorae
Baumjohann & Treumann, Basic Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press
Chen, Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, Plenum Press.
Kivelson & Russell, Introduction to Space Physics, Cambridge Univ. Press.
Treumann & Baumjohann, Advanced Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press.
4 Teaching methods

Exercises: The exercises will pick up topics from the lectures and give the students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the lecture content by solving typical problems in Spase Physics
5 Prerequisites (for the module)

Formal: None.
The content of the course requires the undergraduate knowledge of mathematics, physics, especially classical mechanics, electro-magnetism, basics of statistical mechanics
6 Type of examination

At the beginning of the lecture-free period, there is a 120 to 180-minute written examination, the content of which is the material from the lecture and exercises. Successful completion of the exercises is required for admission to the examination; for this, the acquisition of 50% of the points to be achieved is sufficient. A repeat examination is offered before or at the beginning of the following semester. The examination grade is the module grade. In the case of two passed examinations (see § 20 paragraph 10 examination regulations), the better grade is the module grade.
7 Credits awarded

The module is passed, and the credit points will be awarded, if the written examination is passed.
8 Compatibility with other curricula

Suitable as an elective course for physics students.
9 Proportion of final grade

Weight of the module grade in the overall grade: 6/150 (4 %)
10 Module coordinator

Joachim Saur
11 Further information

Version: 2023-03-31