Advanced Python & Statistics in Astronomy (2018)

ECTS credits: 6


Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course: PhD course

Time of year: January/February 2018

No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 50/150-180 hours

Capacity limits: 5 participants


Objectives of the course:

This course reviews the theory and implementation of Bayesian statistics and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods and offers an in-depth understanding of different data analysis tools related to astronomy using Python.

Learning outcomes and competences:

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Describe and discuss the background on Markov chains and subjects such as the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) technique, Metropolis and Metropolis-Hastings algorithms, Gibbs sampling, prior/posteriors and Maximum Likelihood Fitting.
  • Analyse posteriors of an astronomical dataset using the MCMC python package ””, including making a model for the Maximum Likelihood and feeding ”” with priors.
  • Code different tools in Python relevant for astronomy, e.g.: Normalization of data, handling of noise from the Earth’s atmosphere, interpolations, using stellar atmosphere model templates.
  • Use these different tools in Python to code a program that goes from an absolute raw dataset (model from instructor) to a dataset that is ready to be analysed. This should be submitted to the course instructor. 

Compulsory programme:

Participation in seminars and exercises


Course contents:

Weekly seminars and exercises



MA in physics or equivalent


Name of lecturers:

Dr. Carolina von Essen


Type of course/teaching methods:

Seminars, exercises



Title: “Data Analysis, A Bayesian Tutorial”, author: D.S. Sivia, Oxford Science Publications


Course homepage:



Course assessment:

Present and critically discuss an astronomical paper, which uses the above-mentioned statistical subjects and/or python implementation.



Department of Physics and Astronomy


Special comments on this course:




Mondays: 10-12, Wednesdays: 10-12, Thursdays: 10-12



Ny Munkegade 120, bygning 1520. Room number to be announced.



Deadline for registration is 12 January 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact Simon Albrecht or Carolina von Essen, or

13735 / i43