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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.

About the course

The programme offers three award routes that you can choose to study:  

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 and supernovae. You’ll also have the opportunity to study extra-galactic topics, including: active galaxies at high redshift, cosmological theory and the evolution of the universe.

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.

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.

The University of Hertfordshire was ranked 2nd in the East of England (after Cambridge) for Physics and Astronomy (2023 Complete University Guide).

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.

Where will I study?

Learn in our brand-new School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science building, opening in 2024, where you’ll experience a range of experiential learning zones.

You will benefit from two new dedicated physics teaching labs. The new building will also be home to the Centre for Climate Change Research and the Wolfson Centre for Biodetection and Instrumentation Research, which have both been created in response to the most pressing global challenges.

You will also benefit from a Success and Skills Support Unit, which is aimed at helping you build your employability and academic skills. Plus, have access to industry mentors who will provide you with pastoral support, vocational guidance, and career progression opportunities.

The new building will also provide space to collaborate, with plenty of workshops, social and meeting spaces available. Even better, the building has been designed with the University’s net zero carbon target in mind, and forms part of our plan to replace or upgrade older sites that are energy inefficient.

  • Level 6
    ModuleCreditsCompulsory/optional
    Rocket Performance and Propulsion15 CreditsOptional
    Space Dynamics15 CreditsOptional
    Star Formation and Evolution15 CreditsOptional
    Foundations of Cosmology15 CreditsOptional
    The Physics of Astronomical Spectra15 CreditsOptional
    The Early Universe and Galaxy Formation15 CreditsOptional
    Lagrangian Dynamics15 CreditsOptional
    Applied Photonics15 CreditsOptional
  • Level 7
    ModuleCreditsCompulsory/optional
    Aerospace Aerodynamics15 CreditsOptional
    Space Systems15 CreditsOptional
    High Energy Astrophysics15 CreditsCompulsory
    Relativity and Field Theory15 CreditsCompulsory
    Galaxy Structure and Evolution15 CreditsCompulsory
    General Relativity15 CreditsOptional
    Statistics and Analysis15 CreditsCompulsory
    Data Science Core Skills Bootcamp0 CreditsOptional
    Research Techniques in Astrophysics15 CreditsCompulsory
    From Stars to Planets15 CreditsCompulsory
    Advanced Research Seminars30 CreditsCompulsory
    Astrophysics Masters Project60 CreditsCompulsory
  • 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

    n/a

    Applications open to international and EU students

    Yes

    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.