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Galaxies and Cosmology


Admission requirements

A strong background in physics and math is required. In terms of the Leiden curriculum, the student must have successfully completed the Analyse 1, Analyse 2 and Lineare algebra 1 courses of the first year, as well as Klassieke Mechanica a and Inleiding Astrofysica.


By studying galaxies and cosmology, we ultimately seek to understand how a very smooth universe at early times produced the wealth of structure we see now.

This course studies the application of physics to the understanding of astronomical phenomena related to galaxies and cosmology. We start locally, with our own Milky Way and its components. We then work our way outward to other galaxies in the Local Group and beyond. We then study the large-scale structure of the Universe, and we uncover the mathematics behind the expansion of the Universe. We end by discussing the most distant galaxies and their supermassive black holes.

This diverse range of topics will be understood both qualitatively and quantitatively, with weekly homework to give the students a chance to work through the more difficult concepts.

The following themes are covered:

  • Our Milky Way

  • The interstellar medium

  • Galactic Dynamics

  • Our Local Group

  • Spiral & elliptical galaxies

  • Galaxy groups & clusters

  • The Friedman equation

  • Our expanding universe

  • High-redshift galaxies

  • Supermassive black holes & Active Galactic Nuclei

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to synthesize information on the diverse range of topics listed above by qualitatively discussing and quantitatively solving a large variety of exercises on these aspects of galaxies & cosmology.

Soft skills

At the end of this course, you will have been trained in the following behavior-oriented skills:

  • Planning and executing your homework assignments on time

  • Critical thinking


See Schedules bachelor Astronomy

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

Assessment method


Blackboard will be used to post the lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. Students should enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. To have access, you need an ULCN account. More information:

Reading list

The main textbook for the course will be:

  • Galaxies in the Universe: An Introduction (2nd edition) by Sparke & Gallagher

An additional book that will be used for the lectures covering cosmology is:

  • An Introduction to Modern Cosmology (2nd edition) by Liddle


Register via uSis. More information about signing up for classes and exams can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to register. For a la carte and contract registration, please see the dedicated section on the Prospective students website.

Contact Information

Lecturer: Dr. Jackie Hodge
Assistants: Maria Fortuna, Lukasz Tychoniec, Kirtsty Butler