nl en

Astronomy and Data Science

Structure of the programme

This two-year programme focuses on the big-data aspects of both astronomy as a data-rich science and computer science. It prepares as much for a career in astronomy as in computer science, for careers in research as well as outside research, in academia or elsewhere in society. It consists of advanced Astronomy courses, two research projects in Astronomy, and selected courses from the Computer Science master's programme. This specialisation is offered by Leiden Observatory in collaboration with the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Sciences (LIACS). Students who want to follow this specialisation must be proficient in programming, in particular in the Python language.

Programme (120 EC)

EC Level
Mandatory Astronomy Course
Modern Astrostatistics 3 500
Astronomy Core Courses, at least 18 500
Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses, at least 3-6 400-500
Astronomy Courses of any type 9-12 400-500
At least 4 of the following Astronomy and Computer Science Courses:
Computational Astrophysics 6 500
Numerical Recipes in Astrophysics 6 500
Databases and Data Mining 6 500
Advances in Data Mining 6 500
Neural Networks 6 500
Reinforcement Learning 6 500
Research Projects
First Research Project 30 500
Master's Research Project 30 600

Master Study Plan

At the start of the master’s programme, students are required to draw up the Master Study Plan: a complete list of planned courses and projects for two subsequent academic years in consultation with the Study Advisor Astronomy. To select courses, consult the course list for academic year 2018-2019 (see below) and the preliminary course list for academic year 2019-2020.

Learn more

For more information on the specific requirements of this specialisation, see the appendix of the Course and Examination Regulations.

Courses 2018-2019

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Astronomy Master's Research Projects

First Research Project Astronomy 30
Master's Research Project Astronomy 2 30

Mandatory Astronomy course

Modern Astrostatistics 3

Astronomy Core Courses

Origin and Evolution of the Universe 6
Stellar Structure and Evolution 6
Large Scale Structure and Galaxy Formation 6

General Astronomy Courses

Computational Astrophysics 6

Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses

Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments 6
Radio Astronomy 6
Detection of Light a 3
Detection of Light a + b 6

Specialist Astronomy Courses

Astronomical Spectroscopy 3
High-energy Astrophysics 3
Numerical Recipes in Astrophysics 6

Computer Science courses

Databases and Data Mining 6
Advances in Data Mining 6
Neural Networks 6
Reinforcement Learning 6

Inter-faculty Electives

Science and the public: contemporary and historical perspectives 6
Science Methodology (SCM) 4

Career Orientation

Career orientation
During the Astronomy master’s education programme, we support you in making choices that are relevant to your future career. You will be stimulated to think about your ambitions and potential and to reflect on how to reach your goals. By actively exploring the possibilities, you enable yourself to make motivated study and career choices.

We organise various activities to help you think about questions like:

  • What are my strong skills and what skills can I still learn?

  • In which subjects do I want to specialise?

  • What subject will I choose for my Master Research Project?

  • Which electives fit my future ambitions?

  • Which type of job would I like to do after my Astronomy master’s?

  • What kind of employer would I like to work for?

Events Click here for the Astronomy career event calendar. This calendar contains an up-to-date overview of all career events relevant to Astronomy master’s students, including:

LU Career Zone
The Leiden University Career Zone is a website that offers support to Leiden University students and alumni, both during their studies and career. It offers advice, information and tools, including professional tests to draft your personal profile and job aplication tips.

Soft skills
In the Astronomy course descriptions in this e-Prospectus, behaviour-oriented skills are listed for each course. Although these soft skills cannot be measured like course objectives, being aware of the skills you acquire is important. They determine how you approach your work and your life and are therefore highly relevant to shaping your study path and future career.

Questions about your study and/or career path? Make an appointment with the Astronomy Study Advisor.

Course levels

  • Level 100
    Introductory course, builds upon the level of the final pre-university education examination.
    Characteristics: teaching based on material in textbook or syllabus, pedagogically structured, with
    practice material and mock examinations; supervised workgroups; emphasis on study material and
    examples in lectures.

  • Level 200
    Course of an introductory nature, no specific prior knowledge but experience of independent
    study expected.
    Characteristics: textbooks or other study material of a more or less introductory nature; lectures, e.g. in
    the form of capita selecta; independent study of the material is expected.

  • Level 300
    Advanced course (entry requirement level 100 or 200).
    Characteristics: textbooks that have not necessarily been written for educational purposes; independent
    study of the examination material; in examinations independent application of the study material to
    new problems.

  • Level 400
    Specialised course (entry requirement level 200 or 300).
    Characteristics: alongside a textbook, use of specialist literature (scientific articles); assessment in the
    form of limited research, a lecture or a written paper. Courses at this level can, to a certain extent, also
    be on the master’s curriculum.

  • Level 500 Course with an academic focus (entry requirement: the student has been admitted to a
    master’s programme; preparatory course at level 300 or 400 has been followed).
    *Characteristics: *study of advanced specialised scientific literature intended for researchers; focus of the
    examination is solving a problem in a lecture and/or paper or own research, following independent
    critical assessment of the material.

  • Level 600
    Very specialised course (entry requirement level 400 or 500)
    *Characteristics: *current scientific articles; latest scientific developments; independent contribution (dissertation research) dealing with an as yet unsolved problem, with verbal presentation.

The classification is based on the Framework Document Leiden Register of Study Programmes.