Studying a Masters Degree In Astronomy

Find postgraduate programs in ASTRONOMY

Leicester University, Faculty of Science and Engineering From the earliest times astronomy has influenced how we have viewed our world; it has informed our ability to navigate oceans, grow crops and also addressed more existential questions. In modern society it can still teach us about the progression of the universe and our place in it.

When you enrol on a masters degree in Astronomy your time may be divided equally between taught sessions delivered by your tutors, and a self-motivated research project. Although there will be a supervisor to check over the general direction and standard of your research project, you will ultimately responsible for its content and prompt submission. The project can form the basis of further research when you leave; at this level of study many students polish their work after graduating and have it published in a scientific journal.

Students on an astronomy masters are usually encouraged to work independently and be mindful of their educational progress. You will have access to the facilities at your university, plus those of any nearby observatories that your university is linked with. This will give you practical knowledge of how scientists in the field use state of the art equipment to gather data, and then see how this information enriches the entire astronomical community and society as a whole.

Why Study a Masters in Astronomy?

As an astronomy student you’ll be part of a thriving intellectual environment and gain a broad knowledge of astronomical research. You will also be able to focus your efforts on areas which interest you and build upon your written and spoken skills. Contact with your peer group, the faculty leaders, practicing astronomers and workplace experts will train you to become a professional scientist. Graduate programs in astronomy will ready you for taking up a place in global astronomical research if that is your career goal, or continuing with an in-depth project at PhD level.

Entry Requirements

Most universities will ask for a lower second class honours degree, or 2.2, as a minimum, and it should be in an engineering or scientific discipline. If you are intending to study in the UK or Europe from overseas, then the international equivalent is acceptable.

Overseas students will also have to prove they are skilled enough in both written and spoken English to succeed on a masters course. You should have an IELTS score of 6.5 overall, with subtest results of 5.5 or above. For the TOEFL a score of 90 and sub test scores of 22 will be required. However, you should bear in mind that your certificate becomes invalid after two years and it must be in date when your course commences.

Astronomy Study Modules

Over the course of each term your masters degree in Astronomy will cover different modules, often there are four mandatory units in topics like astrophysics, galaxies, the universe and cosmology. However, there will also be two or more optional units in areas such as data analysis techniques, general relativity or advanced particle physics. Most modules will be delivered via a combination of lectures and seminars.

Student Case Study

The study of astronomy can give us the ability to ask questions about our place in the universe and the ways in which our world is connected to the stars around us. A masters degree in the subject gives students a chance to pursue answers and develop their knowledge along the way. Constantinos Demetroullas is studying astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Manchester, he explains: “I am intrigued by the fact that we are trying to understand an unknown form of substance called 'dark matter', and working on big questions; such as what the universe is made of, how it looked in its early stages, and how it will look a billion years from now.”

Career and Research Opportunities 

Students who have graduated with a masters degree in Astronomy have career opportunities on both a national and international scale. They can find roles as astronomers, writers or science journalists, but others decide to take up a PhD research position and continue to work in academia.

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