Astrophysics (MSc)

Taught topics reflect our world-leading strengths in theoretical, observational and instrumentational research and include Cosmology, Advanced General Relativity and Gravitational Waves, Instrumentation for Astronomy and Techniques in Astrophysics.

Our MSc in Astrophysics is a full-time degree course which aims to provide specialist training and an edge in a highly competitive recruitment market to students who wish to work in the field of astrophysics. On the course, we will cover theoretical, observational and instrumental areas in astrophysics and other scientific disciplines. We encourage you to develop a critical awareness of current research problems and new insights at the forefront of astronomy and astrophysics. We will also discuss the working context of the modern astrophysicist, including the safety and ethical environment and research environments.

On completing the course students should be able to pursue a career in academic research, physical science industrial practice, research and development, or in other highly-skilled numerate careers.

Distinctive features

  • Tailor the course to your interests with our broad range of optional modules.
  • Benefit from our School-based facilities including laboratories and computing facilities.
  • Research-led MSc programme, with taught components delivered by experts in their field.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration1 year
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

You should possess a minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent in a physical, mathematical or engineering science. We also welcome applications from students in other related subjects. Please contact our admissions tutor if you have any queries.

In order to consider your application, we require two academic references and transcript copies of your previous qualifications.

Applicants whose first language is not English are expected to meet the minimum University requirements (IELTS 6.5 with 5.5 in each skill area).

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Applications should be submitted through the University's Online Application System.

There are two stages to this programme. The first stage consists of core and optional taught modules which total 120 credits. These are split across the autumn and spring semester.

Once you have successfully passed the first stage, you may progress onto the second stage of the programme which is a research project (60 credits). You will undertake a 4-month research project, either with one of the research groups in our School or externally during a placement with one of our industrial partners. You will then complete a dissertation outlining your research. The dissertation should be carried out independently under supervision from an appropriate member of academic staff with research interests in your chosen area.

This is a full 12-month programme. You will undertake all core and optional taught modules in year one. You will also complete a 4-month summer research project which will be assessed through a dissertation.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

At Cardiff we provide dedicated taught master’s teaching facilities including a dedicated teaching laboratory, seminar and meeting rooms and quiet study space. PCs for the exclusive use of the taught master’s cohort are provided throughout.

Our MSc programmes are designed around the central idea of building a taught master’s community which works together as a group to enhance learning.  This innovative design was presented to the wider UK Higher Education Teaching Specialist Community at the Variety in Chemistry Education / Physics Education (ViCE/PHEC) Conference in 2016 alongside our undergraduate and outreach innovations. You can therefore be assured that your MSc course has been designed and implemented with reference to the latest developments in educational research and methodology.

The methods of teaching we employ will vary from module to module, as appropriate depending on the backgrounds of the students present, the subject matter and the method(s) of assessment. Our teaching contact time is typically a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, group sessions and practicals.

From the outset of the autumn term, we will introduce you to our dedicated teaching facilities, open-access areas and our research laboratories. This will allow you to easily integrate into the School community. Our MSc cohort also meets regularly as a group to discuss research topics, present papers and to tackle group exercises and undergo advanced practical skills training together.

We will allocate both a supervisor and mentor to you for your summer research project. Usually your supervisor will be a member of academic staff with an internationally-recognised expertise in the field of research. You will meet regularly with your supervisor and their group throughout your project. Your project mentor is an impartial member of academic staff who will monitor your progress, provide advice and ensure the smooth running of your summer research project.

How will I be supported?

All of our students are allocated a personal tutor when they enrol on the course. A personal tutor is there to support you during your studies, and can advise you on academic and personal matters that may be affecting you. You should have regular meetings with your personal tutor to ensure that you are fully supported.

You will have access to the Trevithick Library, which holds our collection of physics and astrophysics resources, as well as resources from Engineering and Computer Sciences disciplines.

We will provide you with a copy of the Student Handbook, which contains details of the School’s policies and procedures. We also support students through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central, where you can ask questions in a forum or find course-related documents.

Cardiff University also offers a wide range of support services which are open to our students, such as the Graduate Centre, counselling and wellbeing, financial and careers advisors, the international office and the Student Union.

Feedback

We offer written and oral feedback, depending on the coursework or assessment you have undertaken. You will usually receive timely feedback from the module leader. If you have questions regarding your feedback, module leaders are usually happy to give advice and guidance on your progress.

How will I be assessed?

Your achievement of the learning outcomes in our taught modules will be assessed in examinations each semester.

Your research project at the end of the course will be assessed through a dissertation. Your research topic can be chosen from a range of project titles proposed by academic staff, usually in areas of current research interest. You are also encouraged to put forward your own project idea.

What skills will I practise and develop?

  • Understand the fundamental laws and principles of physics, and be able to apply them to variety of areas in astronomy and astrophysics.
  • Possess a working knowledge of a variety of experimental, mathematical and computational techniques applicable to current research within astrophysics.
  • Understand the limitations of current knowledge, and technologies and the need to gain new knowledge through further study.
  • Know how to plan, execute and report the results of an investigation or experiment and to analyse and evaluate its outcomes in relation to underlying current theories.
  • Have the ability to communicate complex scientific ideas, the conclusions of an experiment, investigation or project concisely, accurately and informatively.

An MSc in Astrophysics can open the door to a wide variety of possible future careers. Our past graduates have secured employment in the fields of photonics, biophysics, instrumentation research and development, semiconductor physics both within academic science and industrial practice. You may also choose to undertake further postgraduate study or academic research within the field of astrophysics, or enter a highly-skilled numerate career in another discipline.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of everything that is an essential part of the programme, this will be clearly detailed in all programme information and in any verbal instructions given by tutors.

The University considers that the following costs do not need to be covered by schools as they are either not essential or are basic costs that a student should be expected to cover themselves:

  • Laptop computers
  • Calculators
  • General stationery
  • Text books (assumed to be available in the library)
  • Basic copying / printing.

If there are optional costs/fees to be covered by the student, these are not a requirement to pass the degree.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

We will provide equipment that is essential to the course. However, we recommend that you bring a laptop computer with appropriate software (e.g. Office applications), USB or a hard drive, general stationery and some basic drawing equipment.

You will be given access to all relevant IT-related software and equipment on our networked computers. You will also have access to experimental equipment in related laboratory sessions.

We have strong and established links with industry and may be able to offer you a placement with one of these partners for your research project. We may also have some academic summer placements available within the School, which can be extremely valuable to students seeking to continue in academic research.