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Galaxies: structure, dynamics and evolution


Admission requirements

Astronomy bachelor's 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 course Galaxies and Cosmology 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.

Soft skills

In this course, students will be trained in the following behaviour-oriented skills:

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)

  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence)

  • Structured thinking (structure, modulated thinking, computational thinking, programming)

  • Motivation (commitment, pro-active attitude, initiative)

  • Verbal communication (presenting, speaking, listening)

  • Written communication (writing skills, reporting, summarizing)

  • Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)

  • Creative thinking (resourcefulness, curiosity, thinking out of the box)


See Schedules master Astronomy 2017-2018

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

Assessment method

  • Homework assignments: 40% of final grade (average >= 6 as requirement to take oral exam)

  • Oral exam: 60% of final grade


Blackboard is not used in this course.

Reading list

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

  • Galaxy Formation and Evolution, Mo, Van den Bosch & White, ISBN 9780521857932

  • Galactic Dynamics (Princeton Series in Astrophysics), Binney & Tremaine, ISBN 9780691130279

  • Galactic Astronomy (Princeton Series in Astrophysics), Binney & Merrifield, ISBN 9780691025650

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 can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof.dr. M. (Marijn) Franx
Assistant: Leindert Boogaard, Daniel Lam
Course website: Galaxies: structure, dynamics and evolution