BSc (Hons) Astrophysics

About the course

1/5

Astrophysics is the study of the physical processes that shape the structure and evolution of the universe. This course seeks to provide answers to fundamental questions about the origin and evolution of stars, planets and galaxies, as well as the universe itself.

What you will learn

You will study the cosmos in all its wonder, gaining a detailed physical understanding of how the Universe works. You will learn both the fundamentals of Astrophysics and the results of modern cutting-edge research. Throughout, you will make extensive use of our superbly equipped observatory with six optical telescopes and four radio telescopes.

First Year: You will study a range of topics in astronomy, fundamental physics and mathematics. You will gain experience in observational astronomy and laboratory physics, learn programming techniques and develop an intuitive approach to problem solving. By taking part in personal tutorials and workshops, you will also be able to discuss your ideas with others.

Second Year: You will study solar and planetary physics that includes practical observatory work, electromagnetism and optics, quantum physics, thermal and statistical physics, and mathematical techniques.

Third Year: You will have the opportunity of spending this optional year at a major astronomical research centre or international observatory in a place such as the Canary Islands or the USA.  Study abroad opportunities are available at universities in Europe, Australia and the USA.

Final Year (3rd or 4th): Subjects will include cosmology, galactic astrophysics, stellar astrophysics and computational physics. You will carry out a research investigation on an astrophysics topic of your choice. This could be in conjunction with one of our existing research programmes. A range of optional topics are also available. These include space dynamics, fluid dynamics and topics in quantum physics and mathematics.

Why choose this course?

  • On our Astrophysics BSc (Hons) degree you will study the cosmos in all its wonder, gaining a detailed physical understanding of how the Universe works. We put a lot of emphasis on understanding the physical and mathematical principles behind astrophysical phenomena.
  • You will also gain considerable hand-on experience of astronomical observations at our dedicated teaching observatory, beginning your studies there only a few weeks after commencing your degree with us.
  • During your second and third years you will specialise in more advanced Astrophysical topics, including the physics of the solar system and extrasolar planets, cosmology, and star formation and stellar evolution. We also offer a range of options in your final year, including learning how to plan space missions in Space Dynamics and the flight dynamics of rockets in Rocket Performance and Propulsion.
  • You will also carry out a final year investigative project in a cutting-edge area of Astrophysics research. You will be closely supervised and guided by one of our experienced researchers in the Centre for Astrophysics Research. Previous projects have included mapping the Orion Nebula with our telescopes at Bayfordbury, studying planetary systems with the Herschel Space Observatory, and modeling high energy jets from galactic nuclei.
  • If you’re continuing on our MPhys programme it’s possible to extend your project into your MPhys year. We also have an innovative strand of industrial projects supported by the Institute of Physics, that give you direct experience of working in industrial research.

Professional Accreditations

The BSc degree has had accreditation from the Institute of Physics (IoP) for a number of years. The BSc is currently being considered for re-accreditation and we are seeking provisional accreditation for the MPhys degree from the Institute of Physics (IoP).

What our
students say

What our<br>students say
"

The lecturers are active researchers within their respective fields which means they are up to date with the latest research.

-Samuel Richards, Astrophysics

Careers

A degree in astrophysics opens doors to a wide variety of careers. With an MPhys you are ideally placed to go on to a career in industrial or scientific research. You could also remain in academia on a PhD programme, and this is the number one destination for our graduates. Equally your high level of numeracy, ability to think critically and communicate complex ideas will be prized by employers in areas as diverse as financial services, information technology and teaching.

Your specialist physics understanding and range of technical and mathematical abilities mean you will be well equipped for careers in research or industry, or for postgraduate study. Our graduates find employment in international observatories, research institutions, engineering and financial industries, and teaching.

More about the course

Astrophysics is one of the oldest branches of Physics, being concerned with the behaviour of the Universe and the physics of galaxies, stars and planets.  Astrophysics applies many fundamental areas of Physics to the study of the Universe, from quantum physics to electromagnetism and relativity.  Studying astrophysical phenomena, for example galaxies or supernovae, can often reveal new Physics such as the existence of dark matter and dark energy. Because Astrophysics is such a highly physical and mathematical subject, graduates are as in high demand as Physics graduates because of their analytic and transferable skills.

In the School of Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics we aim to teach you these skills in a friendly and professional environment, giving you the opportunity to learn both the fundamentals of Astrophysics and the results of modern cutting-edge research. We are in the top ten of Physics departments in the UK and we are highly regarded for our innovative and successful teaching.  Our Centre for Astrophysics Research is one of the largest astrophysics groups in the UK, with over 50 astronomers and astrophysicists. We carry out internationally excellent and world-leading research Astrophysics across a broad swathe of Astrophysics from extrasolar planets, star formation and stellar evolution, galaxy formation and evolution, supernovae and cosmology. And our observatory at Bayfordbury is widely regarded as the best teaching observatory in the UK.

The additional year it entails (with respect to the BSc programme) provides a broader and deeper exposure to the concepts, methods and phenomena of physics. It also provides experience of research work, and will constitute the normal route into graduate research.

Extracurricular activities

During your time with us we want you to have the widest opportunities possible to achieve your full potential.  So, alongside your studies, we also organise many optional extracurricular activities to help you gain professional Physics experience.  We run regular summer placements and internships in our research laboratories, and make our facilities at the Bayfordbury Observatory open to you (once you have passed an accreditation course).  Also, as a member of the South East Physics Network (SEPNet), our students have the possibility for summer internships with any of our 8 SEPNet partners.

Teaching methods

We take pride in our student-focused approach to teaching Astrophysics. With one of the best student-staff ratios in the country we are able to put our focus on you as an individual and give you the support that you need to reach your full potential as an Astrophysics graduate. Our graduates are in a wide range of careers, from scientific research to teaching and industry.

We use a variety of teaching methods during our Astrophysics degrees, ranging from small-group tutorials, to lectures and practical classes.  A key feature is our observatory at Bayfordbury, where we teach you how to carry out astronomical observations in as close to a professional setting as we can make it.  Our typical intake of students is around 50-60 in each year, which means that our class sizes are small enough so that your lecturers will know you by name.  We place particular emphasis on transferable skills, employability and project work throughout the degree.

You will meet your personal tutor on a regular basis in small-group tutorials, which are a great way of reinforcing the material that you learn in lectures. We also offer a wide variety of support throughout your degree, from you lecturers, the School’s Maths Centre and peer support from our student proctor scheme.

Work Placement

All of our Astrophysics degree programmes can be taken as a sandwich degree, with a professional placement year. We have a dedicated Placements Tutor in our School who, along with the Careers & Placements Service, will help you find and set up your placement. Within the UK our students have worked at:

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • the Rutherford Appleton Labs
  • the Met Office and
  • the National Physical Laboratory.

Many of our graduates go on to work or postgraduate study at their placement hosts.

Study Abroad

This course offers you the opportunity to study abroad in the Sandwich Year through the University's study abroad
programme. Study abroad opportunities are available worldwide and in Europe under the Erasmus+ Programme. Past students have gone on research and study abroad placements to the US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and Singapore. Find out more about Study abroad opportunities.

Structure

Level 4

Core Modules

  • Contemporary Physics (L1) - 30 Credits
  • The Physical Universe - 30 Credits
  • Small Group Tutorial - 0 Credits
  • Mathematical Techniques 1 - 30 Credits
  • Applications of Computing - 15 Credits
  • Laboratory Physics 1 - 15 Credits

Optional

Level 5

Core Modules

  • Solar System Physics - 30 Credits
  • Optical Physics & Electromagnetism - 30 Credits
  • Quantum Physics - 15 Credits
  • Mathematical Techniques 2 - 15 Credits
  • Graduate Skills - 0 Credits

Optional

  • Laboratory Physics 2 - 15 Credits
  • Programming - 15 Credits
  • Dynamics - 15 Credits
  • Professional Teaching Skills - 15 Credits
  • Numerical Methods - 15 Credits
  • Differential Equations - 15 Credits

Level 6

Core Modules

  • Physics of Stars - 30 Credits
  • Cosmology and Large Scale Structure - 30 Credits
  • Computational Physics - 15 Credits
  • Investigation in Physics - 15 Credits

Optional

  • Rocket Performance and Propulsion - 15 Credits
  • Professional Placement - 0 Credits
  • Waves and Fluids - 30 Credits
  • Space Dynamics - 15 Credits
  • Year Abroad - 0 Credits
  • Contemporary Quantum Physics - 15 Credits
  • Partial Differential Equations - 15 Credits
  • Dynamics and Geometry - 15 Credits
  • Nonlinear Systems - 15 Credits
  • Placement with Study Abroad - 0 Credits

Fees & funding

The government has yet to announce the upper limit of Tuition Fees for applicants wishing to study an undergraduate course in 2018/19. As soon as this information becomes available, our website will be updated and we will contact everyone who has applied to the University to advise them of their Tuition Fee.

Fees 2017

UK/EU Students

Full time: £9,250 for the 2017 academic year

Part time: If you decide to study this course on a part time basis you will be charged £1155 per 15 credits for the 2017 academic year

International Students

Full time: £11,850 for the 2017 academic year

Part time: If you decide to study this course on a part time basis you will be charged £1485 per 15 credits for the 2017 academic year

Fees 2018

UK/EU Students

Full time: £9,250 for the 2018 academic year

Part time: If you decide to study this course on a part time basis you will be charged £1155 per 15 credits for the 2018 academic year

International Students

Full time: £11,950 for the 2018 academic year

Part time: If you decide to study this course on a part time basis you will be charged £1500 per 15 credits for the 2018 academic year

*Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.

View detailed information about tuition fees

Other financial support

Find out more about other financial support available to UK and EU students

Living costs / accommodation

The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.

View detailed information about our accommodation

Entry requirements...

2018 entry 

UCAS introduced a new tariff for 2017 entry so the points being asked for are substantially different to previous years.

128 UCAS points 

Must include A2 level Maths and Physics adding together to give 80 UCAS points or above, and must be at grade C or above.

 BTEC qualification in Applied Science plus A level Maths at grade C or above. Access to HE Diploma with 30 credits at merit or above in Maths and Physics.

IB - 128 points from a minimum of 3 HL subjects at grade 5 or above to include Maths and Physics (with the remaining points to come from a combination of HL, SL and Core).

GCSE Maths & English Language at grade 4 or above.

All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency. The following qualifications and grades will be considered.

- GCSE English language grade A-C 
- IELTS 6.0 (with no less than 5.5 in any band)
Other English language tests are accepted. Please contact the International Office for details.

If you do not have the required level of English for entry, our academic English and foundation courses can help you to achieve this level.

How to apply

2018

Start DateEnd DateLink
29/09/201824/05/2019Apply online (Full Time)
29/09/201831/05/2019Apply online (Part Time)
29/09/201824/05/2019Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
29/09/201824/05/2019Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)

2019

Start DateEnd DateLink
29/09/201924/05/2020Apply online (Full Time)
29/09/201931/05/2020Apply online (Part Time)
29/09/201924/05/2020Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
29/09/201924/05/2020Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)