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Astronomy and Instrumentation

Structure of the programme

This specialisation offers students the option to conduct a research master in astronomy with a particular focus on advanced astronomical instrumentation, techniques and instrument development. It prepares students as much for a career in research as for a career outside academia. The two-year programme consists of two parts. First, students follow advanced courses in both instrumentation and general astronomy. Second, students carry out a minor and a major research project.

Programme (120 EC)

| | EC | Level |

Mandatory Courses

| Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments | 6 | 500 |

| Detection of Light a | 3 | 500 |

| Detection of Light b | 3 | 500 |

Elective Courses

| Astronomy Core Courses, at least | 6 | 500 |

| Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses | 12-18 | 400-500 |

| Astronomy Courses of any type | 24-30 | 400-500 |

Research Projects

| First Research Project in Instrumental or General Astronomy | 30 | 500 |

| Master's Research Project in Instrumental Astronomical | 30 | 600 |

| Student Colloquium | - | 600 |

Up to 12 EC of the general and specialist Astronomy courses may be replaced by non-Astronomy courses from the Mathematics, Physics, or Computer Science master's programmes. Among these 12 EC you may choose one of the two inter-faculty electives listed below.

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 2024-2025 (see below).

Learn more

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

Courses 2024-2025

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Astronomy Master's Research Projects

Astronomy Student Colloquium -
First Project: Research 25
First Project: Thesis 5
Master Project: Research 25
Master Project: Thesis 5

Mandatory Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses

Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments 6
Detection of Light a 3
Detection of Light b 3

Astronomy Core Courses

Origin and Evolution of the Universe 6
Large Scale Structure and Galaxy Formation 6
Stellar Structure and Evolution 6
Interstellar Medium 6
Star and Planet Formation 6

General Astronomy Courses

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN's) 3
Simulation and Modeling in Astrophysics (AMUSE) 6

Specialist Astronomy Courses

Astrochemistry 3
Astronomical Spectroscopy 3
Exo-planets A: Interiors and Atmospheres 3
Exo-planets B: Space Physics 3
Modern Astrostatistics 3
Numerical Recipes in Astrophysics a 6
Numerical Recipes in Astrophysics b 3
Observational Cosmology 3

Other Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses

Radio Astronomy 6
Planetary Physics: Science and Instrumentation 3
Advanced Optics 6

Instrumentation-related Courses in Delft

The following courses offered by the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (AE) at Delft University of Technology may be included as instrumentation-related courses in the above programme:

Course Code EC
Space Instrumentation AE4896 4
Space Systems Engineering AE4S12 4
Geometrical Optics AP3392 3
Advanced Photonics AP3382 6
Advanced Optical Imaging AP3221 D 6

See also: Enrolment as a minor student (guest student) at TU Delft

Inter-faculty Electives

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

Additional Astronomy bachelor courses if required

Radiative Processes 6

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.

Career Orientation

During the Master program Astronomy we want to provide you with the best possible preparation for the job market. In addition to knowledge, it is important that you develop skills, gain practical experience, orientate on positions & careers, and reflect on your own profile and development. In addition to substantive knowledge, it is also important to be aware of the so-called transferable skills that you develop outside and during your education. These are, for example, your cognitive skills such as critical thinking and communication. Altogether, this contributes to your development as a professional and offers good preparation for the labour market.

With a master’s degree in Astronomy you are well prepared for jobs in research, industry and the public sector, including technological, financial and consultancy companies, research institutes, governments and science communication organizations.

Nevertheless, questions about this subject may arise during your studies, such as: How can you use the knowledge and skills you gain within and outside your study program in the labour market? Which direction do you choose within your study and why? What are you already able to do, and what skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses you choose into something you would like to do later?

During the two years of your master’s programme, you will create a portfolio with reflection assignments and evaluations of career events that you attended. This portfolio will help you to determine your goals for the future and to reflect on questions such as "What are my strengths?", "What is important to me in a job?" and "What do I need to focus on in order to achieve my goals?".

Career Orientation Portfolio

The portfolio will consist of two reflection assignments, on which you will receive personal feedback from the Science Career Service. Furthermore, you are required to attend at least two career orientation activities per year. Afterwards you will be asked to write a short evaluation of the event in order to reflect on what you have taken away from it.
More information about the Career Orientation Portfolio can be found on the Master Astronomy Brightspace page.


Throughout the year, all kinds of activities are organized where you get the chance to orientate yourself on the job market and are given opportunities to reflect on your own development, possibilities and (study) career profile. To provide you with the best possible preparation for the labour market, we organize two CIMAS (Career Information Meeting Astronomy) sessions per year. During a CIMAS we will organize several activities concerning study and career orientation. There will be alumni from the corporate field and PhD candidates that will share their experiences and advice. In addition to this, we also organize workshops that help you with practical career activities, such as networking and building your CV.

There are also many other career events that you can attend, for example:

  • Workshops form the Science Career Service

  • Career colleges from the Science Career Service

  • The Science Career Event (Bèta-banenmarkt)

  • De Leidsche Flesch Career Market

  • De Leidsche Flesch career symposia

  • The LOCNOC Master Career Day

  • V-OS alumni-mentoring events

  • Scientific conferences and symposia


Most graduates holding a MSc degree in Astronomy from Leiden University find work in many different capacities, including:

  • Research: universities, observatories, research institutes

  • Industry and consultancy: ICT, R&D, telecom, high technology, aerospace

  • Finance: banking, insurance, pension funds

  • Public sector: governments, policy makers, high schools

  • Science communication: journalism, popular writing, museums
    Typical jobs for Astronomy graduates include:

  • Scientific researcher (postdoc, research fellow, professor)

  • R&D engineer

  • Consultant

  • Data scientist, statistician

  • Policy advisor, public information officer (e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

  • High school physics teacher

  • Scientific editor for magazines, newspapers and other media

Research at Leiden Observatory

If you want to get more deeply involved in research after graduating in Astronomy, consider pursuing a PhD at Leiden Observatory. If you have completed the Leiden master’s degree program in Astronomy, you are directly eligible for admission to our PhD program. Read more.

Science Career Service

Science Career Service, one of the utilities of the Science faculty, offers information and advice on study (re)orientation, career planning and personal professional profile as well as preparation for the job market, such as job applications. Facilities provided to students include online information, walk-in consultations, workshops and individual counselling sessions. In addition, Science Career Service offers expertise and support to programmes that want to strengthen the connection between their curriculum and the job market. This can vary from providing specific guest lectures/workshops to advising on integrating career orientation programmes into the curriculum.

LU Career Zone

The Leiden University Career Zone is the website for students and alumni of Leiden University to support their (study) career planning. You will find advice, information, video recordings of webinars and tools such as professional tests to get an idea of your personal profile. You can also explore positions and sectors, you will find tips about CV, job application, LinkedIn and there is a vacancy platform that you can make use of.


Leiden University likes to prepare students and young alumni well for the job market. For this we use the knowledge and experience of Leiden alumni. To bring students and young alumni with questions about their careers into contact with experienced alumni, Leiden University has established the Mentor Network. Students and young alumni can register for free.


Do you have questions about your (study) career choices and has the above information not been able to help you further? Your study adviser ( is always available to discuss your plans and concerns.