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Astronomy and Cosmology

Structure of the Programme

The Astronomy and Cosmology specialisation is part of the De Sitter programme. It offers the student the possibility to conduct a Research Master in Astronomy with a particular focus on modern observational and theoretical cosmology. This two-year programme is offered in collaboration with the Institute-Lorentz for Theoretical Physics in the Department of Physics at Leiden University (LION).

Programme (120 EC)

EC Level
Mandatory Astronomy Courses
Origin and Evolution of the Universe 6 500
Large Scale Structure and Galaxy Formation 6 500
Mandatory Physics Courses
Particle Physics and the Early Universe * 3 500
Origin and Structure of the Standard Model 3 400
Theory of General Relativity 6 400
Elective Courses
Astronomy Core Courses, at least 6 500
Astronomy Courses of any type ** 18 400-500
Related Physics Courses *** 12 400-500
Research Projects
First Research Project in Cosmology or General Astronomy 30 500
Master's Research Project in Cosmology 30 600
Student Colloquium - 600

* For students who successfully completed the 6 EC version of the course Particle Physics and the Early Universe (which was offered in previous years), this is considered to be equivalent to the 3 EC version plus the course Origin and Structure of the Standard Model.

** Astronomy courses of any type
These include all General, Instrumentation-related and Specialist Astronomy Courses listed in the course list below. However, the following courses are of higher relevance to the Cosmology specialisation and are therefore recommended:

  • Simulation and Modeling in Astrophysics (AMUSE)

  • Modern Astrostatistics

  • Gravitational Lensing (offered at irregular intervals)

  • Observational Cosmology (offered at irregular intervals)

*** Related Physics Courses

  • Effective Field Theory

  • Quantum Field Theory

  • Statistical Physics

  • Topics in Theoretical Physics

  • Black Holes and Gravitational Waves (offered every other year in alternation with Theoretical Cosmology)

  • Theoretical Cosmology (offered every other year in alternation with Black Holes and Gravitational Waves)

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 2020-2021 (see below) and the [preliminary course list for academic year 2021-2022]((

Learn more

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

Courses 2020-2021

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Astronomy Master's Research Projects

First Research Project 30
Master's Research Project 30
Astronomy Student Colloquium -

Mandatory Astronomy Core Courses

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

Mandatory Physics Courses

Origin and Structure of the Standard Model 3
Particle Physics and Early Universe 3
Theory of General Relativity 6

Astronomy Core Courses

Interstellar Medium 6
Stellar Structure and Evolution 6

General Astronomy Courses

Galaxies: structure, dynamics and evolution 6
Star and Planet Formation 6

Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses

Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments 6
Simulation and Modeling in Astrophysics (AMUSE) 6
Detection of Light a 3
Detection of Light b 3
High Contrast Imaging 3

Specialist Astronomy Courses

Exo-planets: Interiors and Atmospheres 3
High-energy Astrophysics 3
Gravitational Lensing 3
Numerical Recipes for Astrophysics 6
Modern Astrostatistics 3
Observational Cosmology 3

Related Physics Courses

Effective Field Theory 3
Quantum Field Theory 6
Statistical Physics a 6
Theoretical Cosmology 3
Topics in Theoretical Physics: 6

Additional Astronomy bachelor's courses if required

Radiative Processes 6

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 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.