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Large Scale Structure and Galaxy Formation


Admission requirements

Astronomy master's course Origin and Evolution of the Universe.


How galaxies and the large-scale structures in which they are embedded form is a fundamental question in extra-galactic astronomy. It is an area that has seen tremendous progress, but is still constantly challenged by ever-improving observational data. This course will introduce you to this fascinating subject and the underlying physics.

Topics that will be covered include:

  • Physics of linear growth and non-linear collapse

  • Mass functions

  • Clustering and biasing

  • Angular momentum and its influence on galaxy formation

  • Radiative cooling

  • Star formation and feedback processes

  • Intergalactic medium

  • Formation of the first structures

The course will start with a very brief refresher on cosmology but it is expected that the student has had exposure to cosmology, in particular the course builds on the Astronomy master's course Origin and Evolution of the Universe.

Course objectives

The objective is for the students to develop an understanding of the physics of structure formation, in particular the formation of galaxies.

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)

  • Project management (planning, scope, boundaries, result-orientation)

  • Responsibility (ownership, self-discipline, bear mistakes, accountability)

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

  • Self-regulation (independence, self-esteem, aware of own goals, motives and capacities)

  • Verbal communication (presenting, speaking, listening)

  • Written communication (writing skills, reporting, summarizing)

  • Collaboration (teamwork, group support, loyalty, attendance)

  • Flexibility (adaptability, dealing with change, teachability, eagerness to learn)

  • Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)

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

  • Integrity (honesty, moral, ethics, personal values)


See Schedules Astronomy master 2017-2018

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

Assessment method

Written exam


Blackboard is not used for this course.

Reading list

The course content will be defined by the lecture notes taken by the students and figures distributed by the lecturer.


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. J. (Joop) Schaye
Assistant: Stijn DeBackere