Master's degree programme in Astronomy
My work consists of administrative work and advisory assistance to the Danish government in relation to climatology and climate research. I assist in the role of contact person between Denmark and the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, and I participate in the Danish delegation at negotiations under the UN convention on climate change and in the EU coordination of scientific topics during international climate negotiations. I have conducted research on topics related to the stratosphere and the ozone layer, while the research I did as a PhD student had to do with the Northern Lights and space research. In my work, I draw on my background as a scientist to a high degree, including my background in astronomy
MSc and PhD in Astronomy
Research and Development,
Danish Meteorological Institute.
Measurements flow in every day from satellites in space and from observatories all over the world. Students in the MSc in Astronomy programme are actively involved in research and in the discussion of new discoveries and theories. Students in the programme study new planets orbiting other stars, examine the structure and development of the stars through seismological studies, and explore the earliest stages of the development of the universe, working with computer modelling or measurements from state-of-the-art telescopes and satellites.
FOCUS ON RESEARCH
Teaching in the Astronomy programme is greatly influenced by research, both in the courses and in the thesis work, as the lecturers are active researchers. In this context students benefit from the down-to-earth, informal relationship between faculty and students. Each student is associated with a group of researchers for thesis work in year two, and there is wide scope for specialisation, both within the Department of Physics and Astronomy and (thanks to the department’s close collaboration) with researchers from the European Southern Observatory, the European Space Agency, and NASA.
The MSc in Astronomy programme is open to students with a BSc degree in physics or another BSc degree in science with substantial physics and mathematics content. The programme is both practical and research-oriented, and reflects the interests of the business sector, research institutions and the public sector. It is also flexible, and can accommodate the interests and profile of the individual student. Students can specialise within (for example) cosmology, star development or helioseismology; and they can both work with theory and carry out astronomical observations. The programme also qualifies students for a career in research: students may apply for admission to the university’s PhD programme either during the first year of the MSc programme or on completion of the thesis.
Graduates of the Department of Physics and Astronomy are very much in demand in the job market and they find work quickly. There are many career opportunities, both in Denmark and abroad. Graduates’ skills in image-processing and analysis of large data volumes are highly attractive to the business community, which has employed a high proportion of astronomy graduates over the years. Some graduates continue in research as PhD students, with a view to a career in Denmark or abroad.
The following Bachelor’s degrees qualify students for admission to the Master’s degree programme in Astronomy:
- A Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Aarhus University, the University of Southern Denmark or the University of Copenhagen.
- The following other degrees can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme in Astronomy.
- Another Bachelor of Science degree with subject components in Physics and Astronomy equalling 60 ECTS credits, as well as basic subject components in Mathematics and Statistics.
- Other qualifications can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme, provided the university assesses that their level, extent and content correspond to the degrees mentioned above.
Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency.
Please see the general admission requirements.
The Master’s degree in astronomy counts as 120 ECTS credits and mainly consists of subjects within the physics field of study. You specialise by participating in course activities and projects and by writing a thesis. During your very first week, you structure your own individual study programme with the help of a teacher from the Department of Physics and Astronomy by choosing courses from the course catalogue. Your programme is based on your academic qualifications and interests and the subjects you studied for your Bachelor’s degree. The plan must be approved by the Board of Studies before you can enrol for examinations.
For more information about the individual courses, click here.
If you would like information about options regarding a Master’s thesis in astronomy working with research groups at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, go to their respective web sites.
Forms of teaching
At the University of Aarhus, you are in close contact with researchers in a way that you rarely experience at other universities. The door to the professor’s office is always open if you need clarification of the study material, and you are encouraged to ask questions at lectures and during exercises. We make heavy demands on your academic skills and independence. In return, you gain considerable benefits in the form of academic challenges and scientific knowledge, in addition to broad competences.
The teaching at the university focuses on independence, critical thinking and collaboration. Part of the teaching is in the form of lectures that introduce new angles to the material compared with the textbooks. The theoretical and experimental exercises take place in groups where you study relevant issues in depth.
The varied forms of teaching, collaboration in groups and the opportunity for close scientific dialogue with the researchers provide you with general competences that are in great demand in the global job market. These competences include abstract, critical and independent thinking, analytical skills and strategic planning. You can use these skills in many contexts – even in jobs you didn’t know you were qualified for.
A year divided into four terms
The teaching is divided into terms with four terms per year. Each term consists of a block of seven weeks followed by an examination period of 2–4 weeks. Example of a course calendar.
If you have the necessary skills and interest, you have the option of applying for admission to the PhD programme. You can apply when you have completed your Bachelor’s degree and one year of your Master’s degree or when you have completed your Master’s degree. In the PhD programme, you start working on a research project and are gradually trained through courses and personal guidance to become a researcher.
Campus – a unique place
The University of Aarhus is unique, especially because the buildings are grouped in one campus area close to the Aarhus city centre. The campus has many green areas and a beautiful park surrounding a small lake. Here you also find student accommodation and an underground system of corridors, which means that you don’t have to get your feet wet going from the canteen to your study area. There are also lecture theatres and a host of activities ranging from sports days to the regatta on the lake, interesting lectures, a film club, libraries and university celebrations. The campus ensures that you have easy access to the canteen, student counsellors, teachers, the bookshop, the State and University Library and the Friday bar.
Aarhus as a study centre
The university is not all Aarhus has to offer. As the second-largest city in Denmark, Aarhus has numerous different cultural activities. The well-known Aarhus Festival is celebrated for a week at the beginning of September every year and the streets really come to life. During the rest of the year, you can visit different music venues and concert halls in the city or find entertainment at one of the many theatres in Aarhus. The city’s many museums include ARoS – the major international art museum, which is a spectacular place for visual experiences. If you have had enough of cultural activities, you can ride your bike to the beach in no time or go for walks in the Risskov woods or in the beautiful woods around Marselisborg. The forty thousand young students in Aarhus make up 17.5% of the population, which leaves its mark on city life. Aarhus is a young, dynamic city with plenty of opportunities.
In recent years, much effort has been made to create a good student environment at the Department of Physics and Astronomy – as regards the working methods, social environment and facilities.
When you write your Master’s thesis in one of the department’s research groups, you can get your own desk in an office that you share with other students.
The many enthusiastic and active students have an impact on the study environment at the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The social and academic associations at the department have festive traditions and organise events such as a hat party and a picnic, which represent a pleasant change from the daily routines.
The department’s Friday bar – Fysisk Fredagsbar – opens every Friday at 16.00 and occasionally offers special events with a theme. Mads Føk is the name of a joint newsletter for mathematics and physics students. This newsletter is normally published 8–9 times a year and includes a wide range of contributions – including a calendar. The newsletter tries to publish up-to-date information about events at the departments. Fysikshowet (the Physics Show) was started by students at the Department of Physics and Astronomy and is now organised by a team of around 20 students at the department. The show presents a thought-provoking, entertaining discussion for 1–2 hours of a number of physical phenomena – both from our everyday lives and the more extreme conditions we can create in the laboratory. The PS! Personale og Studerende ved IFA (PS! Staff and students at the Department of Physics and Astronomy) association organises a Christmas lunch and a theme evening. Tågekammeret (the Cloud Chamber) is the name of the social and lecture association at the Faculty of Science at the University of Aarhus. In addition to organising celebrations and lectures, the association has a meeting room that is used as a social meeting point for students of mathematics and physics – an oasis where you can eat your lunch, relax between lectures or enjoy a soft drink or a beer. UNF (the Danish Youth Association of Science) promotes familiarity with science – particularly among young people – by organising lectures, study visits, study groups and study tours.
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With a Master’s degree in astronomy, you have the following competences:
- You have general knowledge of astronomy and detailed knowledge of key disciplines, methodologies, theories and concepts within astronomy.
- You can independently plan, manage and implement projects and apply the results in scientifically relevant decision processes.
- You can assess the applicability and appropriateness of theoretical, experimental and practical methodologies for the analysis and solution of scientific questions and issues.
- You can structure your own competence development independently and critically.
- You are able to systematically and critically familiarise yourself with new subject areas.
- You can communicate academic questions and issues to both a scientific and a general audience.
- You can collaborate constructively on a scientific basis to solve subject-related issues.
As an astronomy graduate from the University of Aarhus, you have several different career opportunities.
The teaching sector employs a large number of graduates, mainly for teaching at upper secondary school.
A number of graduates are employed in the business community, e.g. in software companies where the astronomer’s knowledge of image processing and analysis of large amounts of data constitute an important resource.
Finally, some astronomy graduates enrol in a PhD programme, typically as PhD students, with a view to a career as a researcher in Denmark or abroad, where they mainly work in research positions in either the business community or public research institutions, e.g. at universities, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) or the European Space Agency (ESA).
The rate of unemployment among astronomers educated at the University of Aarhus is very low.
For more information about job opportunities, go to www.phys.au.dk/studier/job/ and nat.au.dk/erhverv.