The exam includes 2 parts : a project/report part and a theoretical part.

For the report part (~20-25 minutes), you are asked to

  • Choose one of the papers from the list (on the web-site) or ask if you want a paper on a specific topic.
  • Provide a manuscript of 10-15 page long discussing the main ideas/properties of the objects/phenomena developed in the paper. We don't want a translation nor a summary of the paper but a synthesis of the results/ideas that are presented. (see tips below)
  • Use the material provided to you during the lectures to illustrate/support your argumentation.
  • Focus on the main properties and have a look at other references. Avoid describing phenomena/processes that you do not understand.
  • Prepare a 10-15 minute oral presentation summarizing your paper. I will stop you if you exceed 15 minutes.

After your presentation, we will ask you some questions about the science you presented. This part of the exam will be marked out of 7/20. The report must be sent one week before the exam unless specified otherwise.

The theoretical part (30-40 minutes)

For this part of the exam, you will be asked general questions about the content of the lecture, concerning both single and binary evolution. You will use the blackboard to answer the questions and do the derivations. I do not ask you to remember all the details of the derivations but should be able to provide the assumptions and starting points. Then I will guide you if necessary. This part of the exam will be marked out of 13/20.

Tips for Preparing Your Report

  • Use a spell-checker
  • Describe all the concepts, key words and main ideas that you introduce. Write your report as if aimed at non-specialists.
  • Define all the symbols that you use in your formulae (and keep the same definitions throughout)
  • You are encouraged to add diagrams and figures, in order to help explain key ideas or complicated concepts in your report
  • Describe the plots, the axes, symbols, labelling etc. Provide an explanation. What is the plot trying to show?
  • Ensure that your figures are large enough to be legible, including all the labels etc
  • Don't feel that you have to cover everything in the paper. If you understand a particular aspect of the paper, then by all means write your report on this.
  • Cite all equations, ideas, papers that you introduce in the report. Don't forget to include the bibliography in the report.

Tips for your Presentation

Preparing your Presentation

  • Ensure the font size, colour and style of the text on your power-point slides will be readable to your audience,
  • Ensure that any plots, axes labels and pictures are visible to the audience,
  • Rehearse your presentation to friends and family, and check that you're within the time limit,
  • Ensure you understand the material that you will discuss,
  • Put page numbers on your slides so that the audience can easily refer to them if they have a question,
  • Don't fill your slides with too much text and equations; only give the key ideas and concepts,
  • Don't try and squeeze too much on one slide,

Giving the Presentation

  • 'Try and relax :-)
  • Arrive in time to set up for your presentation,
  • Take a few moments to think about your response to any questions you may have after your presentation,
  • Try to interact with your audience; point at key concepts on your slide, and look at your audience. Don't just stare at the floor or one person.
  • Forget to describe your plots, axes and curves,
  • Don't speak too fast. Try and speak calmly, and at a steady pace,
  • Don't speak too quietly. Be confident!
  • Don't just repeat what is already written on the slides. Use them as a guide; to prompt you on what you will talk about,


There will be a laptop which can boot in either Windows 7 or Linux. Either bring your presentation on a USB key or e-mail me an electronic copy of your presentation (preferably in PDF) so that we can upload the presentations on the laptop before-hand. A laser pointer will also be provided.