Astronomy and Space Physics - Master's Programme in Physics

Academic year 2021/2022

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Application

This specialisation covers topics beyond planet Earth. You study electromagnetic environments of solar-system planets, exoplanet characterisation, stars and their atmospheres, their winds and evolution. You explore the Milky Way and its origin as well as external galaxies and the large-scale structure of the universe. Most of the topics taught are true specialties of researchers at the Department and the associated Swedish Institute of Space Research (IRF).

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University is ranked among the top 50 physics institutions in the world according to the recent Shanghai ranking, which makes it the highest ranked physics department in all of Scandinavia.

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.

Why this programme?

Uppsala University is the only place in Sweden where you can study both space physics and astronomy. Here you can research the cosmos using state-of-the-art technology (ground and space-based instrumentation, supercomputers) to answer some of the most fundamental questions in physics.

In the specialisation in Astronomy and Space Physics, within the Master's Programme in Physics, you study how the earth's magnetosphere works, how stars evolve and how the Milky Way came to be. You explore the processes that govern the evolution of the universe and gain a deep understanding of physical phenomena from outside the earth's atmosphere to the far reaches of the observable universe.

During the programme you can expect to:

  • research the cosmos using ground and space-based instrumentation and supercomputers
  • study at the Uppsala branch of the national Swedish Institute of Space Research (IRF)
  • get a personal mentor to guide your course selection.
You can also tailor your own Master's programme and take a course in Advanced Quantum Mechanics if you are interested in the microphysics governing stellar light, the main source of information about the universe. Maybe 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.

Researchers at Uppsala University are involved in various international projects and missions, for example, 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) and PLATO (next-generation exoplanet characterisation). Sweden is a member country of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) giving us access to cutting-edge instrumentation in the Southern hemisphere.

Student profile
You are naturally curious about how the world works and realise that formulating a question can be just as important as finding the answer. You have a good theoretical foundation in both physics and mathematics. Furthermore, you have experience in using the foundation to analyse data or create computer-based models to solve problems. Obviously, you already know the basics of Quantum Physics.

You are extremely motivated and willing to take responsibility to tailor your own education from the wide range of courses offered. A PhD education is a distinct possibility in your future so you would value coming in close contact with current research and prominent researchers in the field. So, if you are searching for the answer, a Master's degree in physics from Uppsala University might be exactly what takes you there.

Degree

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).

All specialisations of this programme

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Read the interview
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Name: Sveva Castello
From: Italy

How did you choose the Master’s Programme in Physics?
– I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Turin in Italy. During my third year of Bachelor’s studies, in 2018, I spent a semester in Uppsala as an exchange student, both for attending courses and doing research for my thesis. Through this experience, I discovered the vibrant and international environment at the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Uppsala University in general, encouraging me to continue my studies here.

What is it like to be an international student?
All courses at the Master’s level are taught in English and the university environment and student life are very international, making me feel welcomed from the very beginning. The possibility to meet students and teachers from every corner of the globe is one of the main reasons that made my experience in Uppsala so enriching. On the other hand, while the average English proficiency is extremely high in Sweden, I have also learnt some Swedish through the courses offered by the University. I believe that the language is a key to better understand a new culture and establish deeper connections.

What is the best thing about studying at Uppsala University?
The combination of top-level research and a very dynamic and international student life is the distinctive feature of Uppsala. The city itself and the University cannot really be considered as separate entities, since the university buildings and the student nations are everywhere in the city and it is very easy to bike between them. Thus, overall, it feels like living in a corner of the world that is meant for students to meet, exchange ideas and start building their future.

How did you experience your first few days in Sweden?
Every semester, the student nations organise a one-week welcome reception before the official start of the semester, with several events intended for the new students to create a community. I participated in many of the events and also explored the city as much as possible during some very pleasant late-summer days.

What’s a normal day like for you
Currently, my classes are given online due to the coronavirus pandemic, so I am studying from home and collaborating with classmates via Zoom. However, under normal circumstances, I spend most of my time on campus, where I attend two or four hours of lectures per day, have lunch with my classmates and study in the library. In the evening, I often bike downtown, where I have dance classes or choir rehearsals. I live in a student accommodation and spend time with my partner Elias, who also studies physics. We often have long walks together in a nearby natural reserve or meet friends at a student nation during weekends.

What’s unique about your programme?
While I am officially enrolled in the theoretical physics track, I can build my own study path by taking courses from the other specialisations in physics or even other fields, such as mathematics and computer science. The programme coordinator and course counsellor are extremely helpful and flexible about this. This unique freedom allowed me to explore different areas of physics and to perform two research projects already before my Master’s thesis, one in Uppsala and one abroad, which I could carry out in parallel to my studies and be granted credits for. This continuous contact with research provided a very enriching learning experience and gave me a clearer idea about future working perspectives.

How would you describe the relationship between you and your teachers at the university?
It is often very easy to communicate with lecturers and ask questions if something is unclear during a course. The number of students in my programme is not too large, so it is common for the teacher to get to know each student quite well and provide useful feedback. Moreover, all the teachers I met have always been glad to tell about their work and give advice regarding the choice of a course or a research project. I was also very lucky to find a supervisor who guided me along my studies since my Bachelor’s thesis and with whom I could create a valuable intellectual connection.

How is your student life and what is your best experience so far?
The 13 student nations offer an infinite range of activities, from sport clubs, to choirs, fancy balls and pub evenings. They also give the opportunity to meet students from different programmes and collaborate by taking part in the organisation. I am currently involved at the Gästrike-Hälsinge Nation and responsible for equal opportunities and environmental issues. This provides an enriching complementary experience to my education.

What is your reason for studying and your ultimate goal?
I would like to become a researcher and specialise in cosmology, connecting theoretical models with observations. My main drive is curiosity and I wish to give my own small contribution in the never-ending quest for a suitable description of the Universe. At the same time, I would like to give back what I learnt by becoming a teacher and engaging in science communication. The coronavirus pandemic has once more underlined the need for a better dialogue between the scientific community and society and I wish to invest my education for the benefit of this cause too.

Autumn 2020

Register your interest

Programme

The first one and a half years are spent taking courses from a wide range of topics and you can tailor your own Master's programme by either choosing a broad syllabus or by specialising in an area of your choice. Except the five-month thesis work in the last semester, no specific astronomy course is compulsory. 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.

You can complement the courses with research projects (5, 10, 15 and 30 credits) which you design together with your chosen 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.

Courses within the programme

See the outline for courses within the specialisation

Learning experience

During the two-year programme you will apply your background in physics to the cosmos. No prior knowledge in astronomy is required and you choose from a wide range of courses according to your interests and career plan. Several Löfberg scholarships are awarded to students of this specialisation every year.

Our teachers are active researchers and the courses closely follow current developments in astrophysics.

During a typical week you will have about 8-10 hours of scheduled classroom 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 and research 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.

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 continuous examination during the course, such as group discussions and hand-in exercises.

The programme takes place in Uppsala.

Career

With our Master's degree in Physics, you will be qualified for PhD studies in physics. Many of our physics Master's students continue as PhD students, at Uppsala University or elsewhere in the world. You will also be able to work with research and development (R&D) at various companies and public authorities.

Our previous graduates work at companies or government agencies like ABB, the Swedish National Defence Research Institute (FOI) and insurance companies, as group leaders in research and development, data analysts and consultants.

Even if you do not continue to pursue a career in academia, your qualifications (in such as numerical modelling, data mining) will make you an attractive recruit in a wide range of professions. As an astrophysicist/space physicist graduated from Uppsala University, you can definitely expect an above-average employability.

Your mathematical competence and analytical problem-solving skills also make you an attractive employee. Depending on the courses you take and the specialisation you choose, there are many 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.

Career support
During your whole time as a student UU Careers offers you support and guidance. You have the opportunity to partake in a variety of career activities and events, as well as receive individual career counselling. This service is free of charge for all students at Uppsala University. Read more about UU Careers.

Admissions

Below you will find the details about eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and tuition fee. For information on how to apply and what documents you need to submit, check the application guide. For this programme, besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit one programme-specific document: a statement of purpose.

Astronomy and Space Physics

120 credits

Autumn 2021, 100%, Campus

Location: Uppsala

Application deadline: 15 January 2021

Application code: UU-M1171 Application

Language of instruction: English

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
  • Cambridge: CAE, CPE
More information about English language requirements

Selection: Students are selected based on:

  • a total appraisal of quantity and quality of previous university studies; and
  • a statement of purpose (1 page).

Fees:

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.

Application fee: SEK 900

Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 72,500

Tuition fee, total: SEK 290,000

Contact and further resources

Is this programme right for you?

Contact

For programme-specific information, please contact: Study counsellor:

mastercoordinator@physics.uu.se

+46 18 471 59 91

For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team:

masterprogrammes@uu.se

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1

Box 516, 751 20 UPPSALA

018-471 5952