How does the earth’s magnetosphere work? How do stars evolve, how do they end their lives? How did the Milky Way come to be? What are the processes that govern the evolution of the universe? The Master Programme in Physics, specialising in Astronomy and Space Physics, is for those of you who want to answer these types of questions and gain a deep understanding of physical phenomena from outside the earth’s atmosphere to the far reaches of the observable universe. This is basic research into the cosmos using state-of-the-art technology (ground- and space-based instrumentation, supercomputers) to answer some of the most fundamental questions in physics.
Physics at Uppsala University covers the entire length scale from subatomic strings to the whole universe, with forefront research across all sub-branches of physics — from research on elementary particles and materials, the structure of the earth and its atmosphere, to space and the properties of the universe. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University is ranked No. 36 in the world according to the recent Shanghai ranking which makes it the highest ranked physics department in all of Scandinavia.
At the Ångström laboratory at Uppsala University, physicists collaborate on questions regarding energy, elementary particles, materials, space physics and astronomy. At the Geocentrum in Uppsala, researchers use physical principles to study and understand the earth, its weather and climate. Geocentrum is also the home for the Swedish National Seismic Network which monitors earthquakes in Sweden and worldwide. These and other existing collaborations generate a creative environment for both teaching and research.
Why this programme?
You should choose the Master Programme in Physics, specialising in Astronomy and Space Physics, if you are interested in the physics of celestial bodies: planets, stars, galaxies. We cover a wide range of research related to space physics/solar-system exploration and astrophysics. Researchers at Uppsala University are involved in various projects and missions, e.g. CRIRES+ (the infrared high-resolution spectrograph at the Very Large Telescope in Chile), CLUSTER (earth’s magnetosphere is 3D), Gaia (the billion-star Galactic surveyor), JUICE (the icy moons of Jupiter). Sweden is a member of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) giving us access to cutting-edge instrumentation in the Southern hemisphere.
During the two-year programme you will apply your background in physics to the cosmos. No prior knowledge in astronomy is required. Choose from a wide range of courses according to your inclination. Apart from the five-month thesis work, no specific astronomy course is obligatory. You choose from a wide range of courses on offer. However, we recommend taking the four 10-credit courses (The Physics of Planetary Systems, The Physics of Stars, The Physics of Galaxies, and Cosmology) for a good overview of contemporary research in astronomy and space physics.
Tailor your own Master’s degree! Take a course in Advanced Quantum Mechanics if you are interested in the microphysics governing stellar light. Take a course in Gravitation and Cosmology to really understand general relativity. You will be assigned a mentor helping you to make informed decisions towards your degree and your future career.
During a typical term week you will have about 8-10 hours of scheduled class-room time. The majority of time is thus spent studying on your own or in a study group outside the classroom. You can also choose to conduct research projects. They are a lot like thesis work, only shorter in duration, and are an excellent way into a new research field/group.
Classes are typically small ranging from a few students up to about 20. This gives you close contact with the teachers as well as your fellow students. Our teaching is in English as the student group is international.
The programme leads to a Master of Science (120 credits) with Physics as the main field of study. After one year of study it may also be possible to obtain a Master of Science (60 credits).
The Master Programme in Physics, specialising in Astronomy and Space Physics, covers a wide range of topics of physics beyond planet Earth: from the electromagnetic environments of Solar-System planets, exoplanet characterisation, stars of all kinds, their atmospheres, winds and evolution, the Milky Way and its origin, to galaxies and the large-scale structure of the universe. Most of the topics taught are specialties of researchers in the Division of Astronomy and Space Physics, with the associated Uppsala branch of the Swedish Institute of Space Research. Uppsala University is the only place in Sweden where you can study both space physics and astronomy.
The first 1.5 years are spent taking courses from a range of topics. Tailor your own Master by either choosing a broad syllabus or by specialising. The taught courses can be complemented by research projects (5, 10, 15 and 30 credits) which you design together with your supervisor. The final semester is spent conducting a thesis project in one of the several research groups at the Division. Be part of a research group and get to know frontline research. This is the best way to prepare yourself for a PhD position.
Uppsala-based astronomers/space physicists are involved in several major European projects, e.g. Rosetta, Cassini, Gaia, E-ELT, JUICE, to name but a few.
Instruction consists of lectures, teacher-supervised tuition, and guidance in conjunction with laboratory work. The forms of examination vary depending on the course content and design. Final exams are more common for theoretical courses, although many tutors have gone over to continuous examination during the course, such as group discussions and hand-in exercises. The programme takes place in Uppsala.
The teachers are active researchers and the courses closely follow current developments in physics.
With a Master’s degree in physics, you will be qualified for PhD studies in physics. Many physics Master’s students continue as PhD students, at Uppsala University or elsewhere. You will also have the opportunity to work with research and development (R&D) at various companies and public authorities.
Even if you do not continue to pursue a career in academia, your qualifications (numerical modelling, data mining) will make you an attractive recruit in a wide range of professions. As an astronomer/space physicist you can expect above-average employability.
Your mathematical competence and analytical problem-solving skills will make you an attractive recruit. Depending on the courses you take and the specialisation you choose, there are many other individual career opportunities in special areas, both within and outside the field of physics.
For example, you may find employment as a company consultant, project manager in R&D, or as a specialist in banking, insurance or research organisations.
With a Bachelor’s degree that is not in physics (e.g. engineering, mathematics), you may or may not qualify for our Master programme. You must have passed physics courses worth at least 75 credits (out of 180 credits), i.e. 1.25 years of full-time physics courses (out of three years). Before applying, verify that you meet this requirement.
Requirements: Academic requirements A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university. Also required is 75 credits in physics.
Language requirements All applicants need to verify English language proficiency that corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in Sweden ("English 6"). This can be done in a number of ways, including through an internationally recognised test such as TOEFL or IELTS, or through previous upper secondary (high school) or university studies. The minimum test scores are:
IELTS: an overall mark of 6.5 and no section below 5.5
TOEFL: Paper-based: Score of 4.5 (scale 1–6) in written test and a total score of 575. Internet-based: Score of 20 (scale 0–30) in written test and a total score of 90
a total appraisal of quantity and quality of previous university studies; and
a statement of purpose (1 page).
Tuition fee-paying students and non-paying students are admitted on the same grounds but in different selection groups.
If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.