In the Master's Programme in Physics with a specialisation in Astronomy and Space Physics, you will learn about topics beyond planet Earth. You study electromagnetic environments of solar-system planets, exoplanet characterisation, stars and their atmospheres, their winds and evolution. Most of the topics taught are true specialities of researchers at the Department and the associated Swedish Institute of Space Research (IRF).
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 cosmos using ground and space-based instrumentation and supercomputers.
Study at our branch of the national Swedish Institute of Space Research (IRF).
Get a mentor to guide your course selection and tailor your own programme.
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. Or take a course in Gravitation and Cosmology to understand general relativity.
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.
You are naturally curious about how the world works and realise that formulating a question is just as important as finding the answer. You have a good theoretical foundation in both physics and mathematics. You also have experience in using the foundation to analyse data or create computer-based models to solve problems. You already know the basics of Quantum Physics.
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).
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.
The first one and a half years are spent taking courses on 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 for 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.
During the two-year programme, you will apply your background in physics to the field of the cosmos. No prior knowledge of astronomy is required and you choose from a wide range of courses according to your interests and career plan.
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 examinations during the course, such as group discussions and hand-in exercises.
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, and data mining) will make you an attractive recruit for a wide range of professions. As an astrophysicist/space physicist who graduated from Uppsala University, you can definitely expect 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 a specialist in banking, insurance or research organisations.
During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career. Learn more about UU Careers.
Below you will find details about eligibility requirements, selection criteria and tuition fees. For information on how to apply and what general documents you need to submit, check the application guide. Besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit one programme-specific document: a statement of purpose (1 page).
Please verify that you have enough physics courses to meet the formal requirements (see below).
A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.
Also required is 75 credits in physics.
Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6. This requirement can be met either by achieving the required score on an internationally recognised test, or by previous upper secondary or university studies in some countries. Detailed instructions on how to provide evidence of your English proficiency are available at universityadmissions.se.
Selection: Students are selected based on:
an overall appraisal of previous university studies; and
a statement of purpose.
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.