BSc (Hons) Astrophysics

About the course

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. 

You’ll have the chance to study the cosmos in all its wonder, and gain a detailed physical understanding of how the universe works. The School’s vibrant research programme feeds into the course content and you’ll make extensive use of our superbly equipped observatory. You’ll also have the exciting opportunity to spend a year at a major astronomical research centre or an international observatory.

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.

What will I study?

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.

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).

Careers

Your specialist physics understanding and range of technical and mathematical abilities mean you’ll 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.

'I would not be where I am without the opportunities that opened up whilst studying at the University of Hertfordshire. From extracurricular projects, to connections with other world ranking Universities, I can but thank the university for their guidance and support that kick-started my career.'

Samuel Nathan Richards, Mission Operations Specialist, NASA, SOFIA Mission

BSc (Hons) Astrophysics