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Galaxies: structure, dynamics and evolution


Admission requirements

BSc courses Galaxies and Cosmology and Radiative Processes.


Galaxies are the basic building blocks of the universe, and we use them to trace the evolution of the universe. Fundamental processes such as star formation, recycling and enrichment of gas, formation of planets etc. all take place in galaxies. The course describes the structure of the galaxies, including dark matter, stars, and gas as well as the large scale structure in which galaxies are embedded. It discusses ongoing surveys of the nearby and distant universe. A special focus will be on the evolution of galaxies. The course builds on the bachelor lecture course “Galaxies and Cosmology” (Sterrenstelsels en Kosmologie), and assumes that the material in this course is known to the student. A very brief recapitulation will be given of the most important material.

Course objectives

The purpose of the course is to give students a broad overview of what current state-of-the-art observations teach us about galaxies both in the nearby universe and at earlier points in cosmic time. While learning about the observed properties of galaxies, students will be expected to learn the physical principles astronomers use in understanding how galaxies came to have the physical properties they have.


See MSc schedules.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and assignments.

Assessment method

Homework and exam.



Reading list

The course is not based on any book in particular. Useful reference books concerning galaxies are:

  • ‘Galaxy Formation and Evolution’ by Houjun Mo, Frank van den Bosch, and Simon White, ISBN13: 978-0521857932’

  • ‘Galactic Dynamics, Princeton Series in Astrophysics’ by James Binney and Scott Tremaine, ISBN13: 978-0-691-13027-9

  • ‘Galactic Astronomy, Princeton Series in Astrophysics’ by James Binney and Michael Merrifield, ISBN13: 978-0-691-02565-0.

These books are of excellent quality, and deal with a lot of material in great detail. They will be useful throughout the career of an astronomer. However, their level is generally above that of the course, and they do not discuss large scale structure or galaxy evolution in much detail.


Via uSis
More information about signing up for your classes at the Faculty of Science can be found here
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Lecturer: Dr. R.J. (Rychard) Bouwens
Assistants: Daniel Lam, Gabriela Calistro Rivera
More information can be found on the course website.