MSc Astrophysics with Advanced Research

Why choose Herts?

  • Cutting edge research: study and research cutting edge astrophysics in Hertfordshire’s internationally renowned Centre for Astrophysics Research.
  • Bayfordbury Observatory: train as an astrophysicist in one of the best equipped teaching observatories in the UK.
  • Specialist modules: study a broad astrophysics curriculum, with a wide range of specialist option modules.

Funding available*

About the course

The MSc Astrophysics with Advanced Research is a two year degree worth 240 credits (120 ECTs), and emulates the structure of taught Masters degrees run in Europe and elsewhere outside the UK.

You’ll develop a thorough grounding in fundamental physics while exploring cutting edge topics about the Universe, its constituents and structure, and humanity’s place within it.

You’ll be trained in observational astrophysics and in the use of theory by carrying out a major research project supervised by a leading expert. Throughout the course, you’ll develop specialised skills in physics research enquiry and problem-solving, critical thinking, scientific writing, communication and presentation, and programming and software application.

The course gives you the unique opportunity to study a wide variety of astrophysical phenomena across many scales enabling you to explore all corners of the Universe. You'll study galactic topics, including:

  • extra-solar planets
  • the life cycle of stars
  • gamma-ray bursters
  • supernovae.

You’ll also have the opportunity to study extra-galactic topics, including:

  • active galaxies at high redshift
  • cosmological theory
  • the evolution of the universe.

You’ll also have the opportunity to undertake a placement year through the different course pathways.

Find out more about the MSc Astrophysics with Placement Year.

Find out more about the MSc Astrophysics.

Why choose this course?

Research is at the forefront of the course and is embedded in your student experience from research-informed teaching, to opportunities for direct involvement with ongoing research projects. Your advanced research project has scope to yield a profound impact as your project work progresses understanding in the field.

You’ll be taken on an exciting learning journey led by staff from the University of Hertfordshire Centre for Astrophysics Research. You’ll benefit from their internationally renowned knowledge and experience from the work they carry out across a range of cutting-edge research topics in both galactic and extragalactic astrophysics.

Find out more about the Centre for Astrophysics Research.

The course benefits from a large practical component enabling you to put your knowledge and research into practice. As a student on the course, you’ll have unique access to the University’s own Bayfordbury Observatory. The Observatory is home to:

  • eight individual domes
  • a fully equipped computer building
  • five 40cm Meade telescopes (equipped with CCD detectors)
  • a solar telescope
  • a video telescope
  • four radio telescopes on-site which also facilitates a three-element radio interferometer.

The facilities are automated (with weather sensitive control) so observing can be done either remotely (via queue observing) or directly through on-site student visits.

Find out more about Bayfordbury Observatory.

What will I study?

As part of the course, you’ll undertake six compulsory modules focused on the latest cutting-edge research. You’ll study an exciting blend of topics, including:

  • galactic and extragalactic astrophysics
  • astrophysical techniques and concepts
  • fundamental theory
  • analysis methods.

The structure of the course enables you to take your research and career in the direction which suits you. You’re able to tailor your degree to your own interests and undertake an additional four optional modules from specialist areas of astrophysics, space science, fundamental theory, and optical physics.

The final year of the course includes a major astrophysics research project supervised by a leading expert in your chosen field. Project teaching comprises of individual supervision and guidance to support your development as a researcher. You’ll also carry out an in-depth exploration of the scientific literature and present seminars on key astrophysics topics linked to your project.

  • Level 6
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Rocket Performance and Propulsion 15 Credits Optional
    Space Dynamics 15 Credits Optional
    Star Formation and Evolution 15 Credits Optional
    Foundations of Cosmology 15 Credits Optional
    The Physics of Astronomical Spectra 15 Credits Optional
    The Early Universe and Galaxy Formation 15 Credits Optional
    Lagrangian Dynamics 15 Credits Optional
    Applied Photonics 15 Credits Optional
  • Level 7
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    High Energy Astrophysics 15 Credits Compulsory
    Relativity and Field Theory 15 Credits Compulsory
    Galaxy Structure and Evolution 15 Credits Compulsory
    Statistics and Analysis 15 Credits Compulsory
    Research Techniques in Astrophysics 15 Credits Compulsory
    From Stars to Planets 15 Credits Compulsory
    Advanced Research Seminars 30 Credits Compulsory
    Astrophysics Masters Project 60 Credits Compulsory
    Aerospace Aerodynamics 15 Credits Optional
    General Relativity 15 Credits Optional
    Data Science Core Skills Bootcamp 0 Credits Optional
  • Key staff

    Professor David Pinfield
    Professor of Astronomy, Physics and Astrophysics Programme Leader
    Find out more about Professor David Pinfield

    Further course information

    Course fact sheets
    MSc Astrophysics with Advanced Research Download
    Programme specifications
    MSc Astrophysics with Advanced Research Download
    Additional information

    Sandwich placement or study abroad year


    Applications open to international and EU students


    Student experience

    At the University of Hertfordshire, we want to make sure your time studying with us is as stress-free and rewarding as possible. We offer a range of support services including; student wellbeing, academic support, accommodation and childcare to ensure that you make the most of your time at Herts and can focus on studying and having fun.

    Find out about how we support our students

    You can also read our student blogs to find out about life at Herts.

    Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, examinations may be replaced by an alternative form of assessment during the academic year 2020/2021. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.

    Please note that some of the images and videos on our course pages may have been taken before social distancing rules in the UK came into force.