MSc Astrophysics with Placement Year

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*

Work placements offered

About the course

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 further advanced research through the different course pathways.

Find out more about the MSc Astrophysics with Advanced Research.

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.

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 two optional modules from specialist areas of astrophysics, space science, fundamental theory, and optical physics.

The work placement starts in the summer at the end of the first year and runs to the end of second year teaching. A major astrophysics project follows the placement over the summer of second year, supervised by a leading expert in your chosen field. Project teaching comprises of individual supervision and guidance to support your development as a researcher.

  • 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
    Astrophysics Masters Project 60 Credits Compulsory
    Work Placement 0 Credits Compulsory
  • Key staff

    Dr Carrie Ricketts
    Work Placements Tutor

    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 (SW) Astrophysics with Sandwich Placement Download
    Programme specifications
    MSc Astrophysics 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 2021/2022. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.