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Astrophysics degrees | course guide

Explore the wonders of the universe with Astrophysics – use our guide to see if the subject and a career as an astrophysicist are for you.

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CONTENTS

  1. What’s Astrophysics?

  2. What Astrophysics degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto an Astrophysics degree?

  4. What topics does an Astrophysics degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Astrophysics?

  7. What do Astrophysics graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as an Astrophysics graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Astrophysics

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Astrophysics?

Astrophysics is the exploration of the universe and how the laws of physics apply to astronomical objects and phenomena. Choose this subject at university, and you’ll develop your understanding of the physics of astronomy, covering topics from black holes to extrasolar planets.

What Astrophysics degrees can you study?

Undergraduate Astrophysics degrees on offer in the UK include:

  • Astrophysics BSc
  • Astrophysics MSci
  • Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology MPhys

Several options include an industry placement year as part of the course.

  1. GO TO
  2. Find an Astrophysics degree
  3. Types of undergraduate degrees

What do you need to get onto an Astrophysics degree? 

Most undergraduate Astrophysics courses ask for around 120–168 UCAS points. Not every university will base an offer on UCAS points, and some courses may have lower or higher requirements.

  • A Levels: AAA–BBB
  • BTECs: D*DD–DDM
  • Scottish Highers: AAAA–AABB
  • International Baccalaureate: 38–30
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied physics and mathematics

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Information technology
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Computer science

Experiences that would look good on your application:

  • Membership of a physics or astronomy club
  • Volunteering or work experience with an astronomy-related organisation
  1. GO TO
  2. Entry requirements
  3. About UCAS points
  4. Alternatives to A Levels

What topics does an Astrophysics degree cover? 

  • Typical modules for courses in this subject include:
  • Quantum physics and electromagnetism
  • Quantum mechanics and relativity
  • Particle and atomic physics
  • Big bang cosmology
  • Mathematics for physics
  • Thermal properties of matter

How will you be assessed?

Depending on your modules, you could be assessed through:

  • Lab reports
  • Presentations
  • Peer assessments
  • Critical reviews of scientific literature
  • Written exams
  • Assessed coursework

Why study Astrophysics?

Courses are usually highly interactive where you learn through modern observation technology and research facilities.

Career-specific skills:

  • Astronomical observation
  • Data analysis
  • Computer programming
  • Experimental techniques
  • Mathematical modelling

Transferable skills:

  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Independent research
  • Problem-solving
  • Numeracy
  • Computer literacy
  • Logical thinking

Professional accreditations:

  • Institute of Physics

What do Astrophysics graduates earn?

When starting as a graduate astrophysicist, you can expect an entry-level salary of around £26,000.

The average salary for an astrophysicist in the UK is around £40,000, especially for PhD holders or experienced professionals. Salaries can exceed £60,000 for those in high-level positions.

What jobs can you get as an Astrophysics graduate?

Astrophysics graduates work for industries ranging from finance to renewable energy, for employers such as the European Space Agency, Rolls Royce and Barclays. Examples of roles that graduates go into:

  • Research scientist
  • Research development leader
  • Medical physicist
  • Teacher or lecturer
  • Data analyst
  • Aerospace engineer

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of postgraduate courses available at universities in the UK:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics MRes
  • Astrophysics MSc
  • Astrophysics PhD
  • Space and Climate Physics MPhil

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