BSc (Hons) Astrophysics
Typical offer:Entry requirements
UCAS code: F501
Institute code: H36
Study abroad option
Work placement optionFind out more
UCAS points A Level BTEC Access Course Tariff IB requirement 120 - 128
BBB - ABB - B in Maths, B in Physics
DDM - Applied Science AND A level Maths grade B Diploma with 45 Level 3 credits of which 15 must be in maths at a minimum of Merit 120-128 points must include maths and physics at HL grade 4 or above
GCSE: Grade 4/D in English Language and 4/C Mathematics
All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency, equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band.
If you do not have the required IELTS or equivalent for direct entry on to your degree programme, our Pre-sessional English and International Foundation courses can help you to achieve this level.
For more details on the University of Hertfordshire's entry requirements, please visit our Undergraduate Entry Requirements page.
Find out more about International Entry Requirements.
The University of Hertfordshire is committed to welcoming students with a wide range of qualifications and levels of experience. The entry requirements listed on the course pages provide a guide to the minimum level of qualifications needed to study each course. However, we have a flexible approach to admissions and each application will be considered on an individual basis.
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).
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Why choose this course?
- 2nd in the East of England (after Cambridge) for Physics & Astronomy(2023 Complete University Guide)
- Use one of the best equipped teaching observatories in the UK
- New modules include Particle Physics and Plasma Physics options
- 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's the course about?
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.
Your main campus is College Lane
This is where the creative arts, science and health-related subjects are based. This means you’ll share the campus with future nurses, scientists, artists and more. You can use the common rooms to relax with friends, work out in the 24-hour gym or have a drink in our on-campus pub or cafes. We also have restaurants for you to eat in or grab something on the go. Our Learning Resources Centres are open 24/7, which means you can study whenever suits you best. Want to pop over to the other campus? You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.
New School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science building opening in 2024
Learn in our brand-new building, 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.
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.
Module Credits Compulsory/optional The Physical Universe 30 Credits Compulsory Mathematical Techniques 1 30 Credits Compulsory Special Relativity and Quantum Physics 30 Credits Compulsory Experimental Physics 15 Credits Compulsory Computational Modelling 15 Credits Compulsory Small Group Tutorial (Level 4) 0 Credits Compulsory
Module Credits Compulsory/optional Mathematical Techniques 2 15 Credits Compulsory Electromagnetism 15 Credits Compulsory Optics and Lasers 15 Credits Compulsory Thermodynamics 15 Credits Compulsory Quantum Mechanics 15 Credits Compulsory Small Group Tutorial (Level 5) 0 Credits Compulsory Career Planning and Development 0 Credits Compulsory Physics of the Solar System 15 Credits Optional Extra-Solar Planets 15 Credits Optional Plasma Physics and Fusion Reactors 15 Credits Optional Differential Equations 15 Credits Optional Programming 15 Credits Optional Professional Teaching Skills 15 Credits Optional Motion and Tensors 15 Credits Optional Numerical Methods 15 Credits Optional
Module Credits Compulsory/optional Condensed States of Matter 15 Credits Compulsory The Physics of Elementary Particles 15 Credits Compulsory Astrophysics Project and Investigative Skills 30 Credits Compulsory Star Formation and Evolution 15 Credits Compulsory Foundations of Cosmology 15 Credits Compulsory Rocket Performance and Propulsion 15 Credits Optional Professional Placement 0 Credits Optional Space Dynamics 15 Credits Optional Year Abroad 0 Credits Optional Computational Physics 15 Credits Optional Partial Differential Equations 15 Credits Optional Nonlinear Systems 15 Credits Optional Placement with Study Abroad 0 Credits Optional The Physics of Astronomical Spectra 15 Credits Optional The Early Universe and Galaxy Formation 15 Credits Optional Quantum Optics and Information Theory 15 Credits Optional Lagrangian Dynamics 15 Credits Optional Applied Photonics 15 Credits Optional
An opportunity for an amazing experience, which will help make you stand out from the crowd. With more and more companies working internationally, experience of living in another country can make a great impression on future employers.
This course offers you the opportunity to enhance your study and CV with a sandwich year abroad. The University has partnerships with over 150 universities around the world, including the USA, Canada, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and closer to home in Europe.
If you study abroad between your second and third year of study, you’ll pay no tuition fee to the partner university and no tuition fee to us either. We’ll ask you to make your decision in your second year, so there is plenty of time to think about it.
Find out more about Study abroad opportunities
Please note Erasmus+ funding is only available until May 2023. For students starting their course in September 2022 and wishing to study abroad in 2023-24 or 2024-25, please refer to the Turing Scheme.
Graduate with invaluable work experience alongside your degree and stand out from the crowd.
This course offers you the opportunity to enhance your study and CV with a work placement sandwich year. It’s a chance to explore career possibilities, make valuable contacts and gain sought after professional skills.
Our dedicated Careers and Employment team are here to help guide you through the process. Within the UK our students have worked at:
- the Rutherford Appleton Labs
- the Met Office and
- the National Physical Laboratory.
If you take up a work placement between your second and third year of study, at the University of Hertfordshire you’ll pay no tuition fee for this year. We’ll ask you to make your decision in your second year, so there is plenty of time to think about it.
Find out more about work placements
Many of our graduates go on to work or postgraduate study at their placement hosts.
'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.'
Check out our student blogs
Shafali - My typical day
My typical day
I begin a typical day by commuting in from London using the UNO buses; a bus service provided by the University. With UNO buses you can get discounted UH (University of Hertfordshire) student tickets with an accompanying student ID. They offer single, daily, weekly, monthly, termly or yearly tickets.
Once at the university there is the Forum which houses the student shop (the university’s convenience store), subway, EleHouse (the student pub) and other places to grab a bite to eat which is where I usually buy my lunch from or if it’s lunchtime I sit in and eat at the student forum restaurant, which serves hot food, with my friends.
I then have anywhere between one to four hours of lectures, tutorials and practicals (depending on how compact my timetable is), usually with at least a one-hour break in between. All lectures are an hour-long, and they can be in the form of single or double lectures with a small break in between the doubles. Lectures consist of listening to the lecturer and making notes, tutorials consist of going through a set of pre-set questions, which reflect the previous week’s taught material, that is expected to be completed and ready beforehand and finally, practicals are usually lab-based. Once the teaching day is done, I spend an hour or two going through notes, completing assignments.
After this I have the evening to hang out with friends such as at the on-campus common rooms where they have pool tables and table tennis or I head home, again using the UNO buses.
And that’s a typical day as an Astrophysics student. :)
Shafali - Why I love Astrophysics
What I love about my course
Having had the privilege of studying Astrophysics at two universities I can say that the education is very similar, this, of course, can only be said for this degree but what really differentiates the universities are by what they have to offer rather than solely the teaching aspect.
At Herts, Physics and Astrophysics are offered, both at BSc and MSc levels which allows for a choice. This freedom continues onto the module choice in each year which I am particularly fond of as I prefer the mathematical modules offered here. Astrophysics is slightly more restricted than Physics as you must choose at least one Astro module however we do get to choose at least one module per semester, and in the third year we largely choose our modules where there is a range of options, scaling from theoretical physics to mathematical physics to engineering modules, the choice is yours!
On top of this, the grade weightings for assignments and exams are mostly 40/60 for physics modules and 20/80 for mathematics modules along with modules which are worth 100% coursework such as Planetary Systems and Programming, which means less pressure when it comes to the exam period.
I also love the support available here at Herts, academic and otherwise. Lecturers are sure to have office hours available for students to answer any questions and have regular drop-in sessions with academics to help with assignments or for any queries. Furthermore, each year has a student rep elected by the students, one person each for Physics and Astrophysics, who are there to help get across any concerns students may have about the course or anything else that might need bringing to attention so your voice is always heard and valued.
I especially love the emphasis on graduate prospects, internships, working abroad and placement years here at Herts. In the Physics, Astronomy and Mathematical school (PAM) we have our own dedicated career advisor who sends us regular emails about prospective jobs, internships, and placement opportunities available to our school and how we can apply to this. In the second year, all students must complete a non-credited module called Career Planning and Development which is a highly valuable module designed to further our skills even after we have graduated; focusing on employability alongside gaining a degree which will benefit in the long run.
Finally, Go Herts is a recognised award which helps you stand out from the rest in prospective job applications, it is offered to students who have engaged in a range of extra-curricular activities outside of the assessed part of your degree (such as a part-time job) which is awarded to you at the end of your programme of study which is an added recognition just for doing what you would do anyway!
That’s what I love about Herts!
Shafali - Why I chose Herts
Why I chose Herts
I am a second-year transfer student, so I didn’t apply as a typical first-year student and I didn’t come through Clearing. The process to transfer was easy and straight forward with the University of Hertfordshire; applying so late in the year meant it was difficult to guarantee a place on any course. However, Herts was very accommodating and gave me the green light after just my first conversation with my programme coordinator after confirming that I passed the grade entry requirements. I emailed over my HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report) report and soon I was officially enrolled as a second-year Astrophysics student.
I chose Herts as it has a lot of accessibility which helps my course. For example, the Bayfordbury observatory has a range of telescopes that are available to use throughout your degree. Along with this, Herts is ranked well on the Physics and Astronomy tables, being in line with some of the Russel Group universities. But most of all the support and graduate opportunities and prospects interested me.
Dr Samuel Nathan Richards
Meet Dr Samuel Nathan Richards, who has taken his degree out of this world. Samuel currently works for NASA as the Mission Director & Instrument Scientist for NASA/DLR mission: SOFIA in California.Read more stories Find out more about this course
|Current job role||Mission Director & Instrument Scientist for NASA/DLR mission: SOFIA|
|Year of graduation||2012|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Astrophysics with Sandwich Year|
Samuel currently works as the Mission Director & Instrument Scientist for the SOFIA mission, based in Palmdale, California at the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. Nathan has worked toward this role since completing his degree and a PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Sydney, Australia.
He says, 'I would not be where I am without the opportunities that were available while studying at the University of Hertfordshire. From extracurricular projects, to connections with other world ranking universities. I'm thankful to the University for its guidance and support that kick-started my career.'
Samuel decided to study at the University after seeing a promo video in sixth-form that featured the Bayfordbury Observatory. He says, 'When I discovered how strong the University's Astronomy department was, I felt that this was an environment that I could thrive in.'
'The lecturers were world-class, active astronomers, so each class was dynamic to the ever-changing knowledge of their respective fields of research. Their willingness to accept keen students for extracurricular research projects gave me early first-hand experience of the career I was about to launch myself into. Their international connections opened a path for me to do a research year at the University of Sydney, where I would later return to complete a PhD!'
Just the beginning
Pursuing a career in astronomy is highly competitive but incredibly exciting. Opportunities in these industries are truly global and roles are very diverse. 'I didn't know I'd end up working at NASA, but I took all opportunities as they arose.' Samuel encourages new and current students to do the same. 'Find what you enjoy and do that, over money, status and fame. There are many routes to where I am now, my colleagues come from very different backgrounds: astronomy, electrical and mechanical engineering and computer science, and that is just within my role, let alone all the other roles under NASA's umbrella.'
'I'm still learning, developing and taking on new opportunities!'
Meet Thomas Owen who discovered his passion for analytics while at university. He is currently a Sales and Capacity Planner at Ocado.Read more stories Find out more about this course
|Current job role||Sales and Capacity Planner|
|Year of graduation||2015|
|Course of study||BSc(Hons) Physics|
University life and experience
Thomas initially decided to come to the University of Hertfordshire based on our excellent Physics facilities, including Bayfordbury Observatory. While visiting the campus at an Open Day he was impressed with the amount of support available and our ranking in league tables for Physics evidenced in the expertise of our lecturers.
Throughout his time at the University, Thomas felt fully supported. He says, ‘There was never a point where I felt I had to go it alone and help was always on hand if things got tough. Lecturers took the time to meet with me personally if I had questions and the 24/7 LRC had everything I'd need for self-study and exam practice.’
After graduating, he has realised that the challenges he faced throughout his degree have fully prepared him for his working life and future career.
‘My studies helped me prepare for working in busy, dynamic environments by challenging me all the time. Whether it was working on a big project, my dissertation, or preparing for my exams – my experiences encouraged me to take challenges head on.’
While he worked hard throughout his time at university, he is pleased that it paid off. He explains that handing in his final year dissertation and being awarded a first made it all worthwhile.
Thomas initially did not think that he would be working in online grocery and retail, however, he has found the industry to be challenging, rewarding and fast-growing. He explains that he likes the variety of roles and ‘different areas of aspire to work in.’
What's next for my career?
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.
- View our Alumni profiles
Further information - includes assessment method
Course fact sheets BSc (Hons) Astrophysics Download Programme specifications BSc Honours Physics and Astrophysics Download BSc Honours Physics and Astrophysics Download Additional information
Sandwich placement or study abroad year
Applications open to international and EU students
- Full Time, 3 Years
- Part Time, 6 Years
- Sandwich, 4 Years
- University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield
How to apply?
International/EU applicants without pre-settled status in the UK
Apply through our international/EU application portal
Home and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled status in the UK
Apply using the links below:
Start Date End Date Link 29/09/2023 24/05/2024 Apply online (Full Time) 29/09/2023 31/05/2024 Apply online (Part Time) 29/09/2023 24/05/2024 Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich) 29/09/2023 24/05/2024 Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
Start Date End Date Link 29/09/2024 24/05/2025 Apply online (Full Time) 29/09/2024 31/05/2025 Apply online (Part Time) 29/09/2024 24/05/2025 Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich) 29/09/2024 24/05/2025 Apply online (Full Time/Sandwich)
Fees and funding
- £9250 for the 2023/2024 academic year
- £1155 per 15 credits for the 2023/2024 academic year
- £14750 for the 2023/2024 academic year
- £1845 per 15 credits for the 2023/2024 academic year
- £14750 for the 2023/2024 academic year
- £1845 per 15 credits for the 2023/2024 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
Read more about additional fees in the course fact sheet
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.