Master's Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences: Astronomy and Space Physics
The Master's Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences – Astronomy and Space Physics encompasses a broad range of topics from the physics of the sun and solar system to stellar and galactic structure and evolution, as well as topics in high energy astrophysics and cosmology.
The Astronomy and Space Physics track is one of the four specialisation tracks of the Master´s Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences. The other tracks of the programme are Materials Chemistry, Materials Physics, and Theoretical Physics. Upon graduation, you will be able to use the diverse set of skills acquired as part of this track, including computational and numerical techniques.
The Astronomy and Space Physics track includes a solid grounding in theoretical aspects as well as providing opportunities for observational studies (e.g. of supernovae or accreting black holes); the space physics group performs experimental, theoretical and computational research on high-energy phenomena in near-Earth space.
Programme in brief
The structure is modular. All modules have 20 ECTS. Each specialisation track has two obligatory modules that contain the core material of the field. In addition, there is one thematic module that may be chosen from the other modules offered within this programme or other programmes at the University of Turku. The fourth module consists of freely chosen courses and an obligatory Finnish language and culture course (5 ECTS). An MSc thesis (30 ECTS) in addition to seminar, internship, and project work (10 ECTS) are also required, details of which depend on the specialisation. See figure below, click on images to enlarge.
Examples of different modules in different specialisations are:
You can replace the project work by participating in a Capstone project (10 ECTS) organised by the Department of Future Technologies. We recommend this for those students who aim to work in the industry after graduation.
Theoretical courses will cover aspects of plasma physics and astrophysics, radiative processes and cosmology, hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics, astrophysical spectroscopy and interstellar medium, as well as stellar structure and evolution.
The methodology module covers observational techniques, data analysis methods, detectors, and numerical methods. Here, you will take courses in the methods of observational astrophysics, statistical and simulation methods, signal and image processing, time-series analysis and Fourier transforms, space technology and radiation and particle detectors.
You are free to choose the thematic module from those offered in the faculty or take a suitable minor subject, even one offered by other faculties. Thematic modules offered by this programme include biomaterials, electronics materials, modelling and functional materials. Possible minor subjects are e.g. computer science, mathematics, chemistry, business creation and innovation. However, for the thematic module, the specialised courses in astrophysics and space physics are highly recommended.
The specialised courses in astrophysics and space physics will give you a deeper understanding of e.g. active galactic nuclei, astroparticle physics, physics of planet formation, galaxies and cosmology, galactic astronomy, heliophysics and high-energy astrophysics as well as nuclear and particle physics. Here you can select the topics that support your Master‘s thesis.
In the other studies module you can choose any courses you want from the entire offering of the university in addition to the obligatory “Finnish for foreigners” course. It is recommended that you take more courses on computing, modelling and theoretical physics, depending on your preferences.
The aim of the Master’s education is to support you to become an independent expert who can evaluate information critically, plan and execute research projects to find new knowledge, and to solve scientific and technological problems independently and as part of a group.
The Master’s degree programme includes a compulsory thesis component (30 ECTS), which corresponds to six months of full time work. The thesis is to be written up as a report based on a combination of a literature review and an original research project that forms the bulk of the thesis.
The thesis is an independently made research project but the project will be carried out under the guidance of leading researchers in the field at the University of Turku. It is expected that the student will be embedded within an active research group or experimental team, thereby providing excellent opportunities to discuss results and exchange ideas in a group setting.
Recent examples of thesis titles in astronomy and space physics are:
- Flux decay during thermonuclear X-ray bursts: decay rate analysis using dynamic power-law index method
- Mass and radius constraints for neutron stars from pulse shape modeling
- Near-infrared observations of supernovae with the Nordic Optical Telescope
- The population of supernovae and their progenitors in starburst galaxies
- Photometric studies of exoplanet transits of stars in the open cluster M44
- Polarimetric studies of binary stars: the case of HD 4809
- Variability of optical polarization and gamma-ray flux in blazar jets
- Linear polarization of BL Lacertae OJ 287 at 21 cm
- Very high energy gamma-rays emitting BL Lac’s population study
- Statistical study of velocity dispersion analysis of Solar particle eruptions
- Design, construction and testing of the prototype of a simple particle instrument for a space flight
- Modeling solar energetic particle fluences using observations from ground level events
- Calibration and simulations of SIXS-P response to energetic particles
- Transport of energetic charged particles in reservoirs behind CME-driven shock waves
- Instruments for observing energetic neutral atoms in space
The Master’s Degree Programme of Physical and Chemical Sciences has four tracks. A short description of this specialisation track is given below. You can find more detailed information of tracks from the specific site of each track by clicking on the links below.
Students specialising in Astronomy and Space Physics can choose among three lines of studies: theoretical astrophysics, observational astronomy and space physics. You will acquire knowledge of various astrophysical phenomena and plasma physics, from Solar system to neutron stars and onto galaxies and cosmology. You will also get hands-on experience with observational techniques, space instrumentation, numerical methods and analysis of large data sets.
The Master of Science degree provides the skills to work in many different kinds of positions within areas such as research and development, education and management, and industry. The specialisations of Astronomy and Space Physics provide very good data analysis and programming skills, and thus many graduates have gone on to successful careers in the big data and finance sectors
During the master’s program in astronomy and space physics, you will study plasma physics and hydrodynamics, radiative processes, high-energy astrophysics and solar physics, galaxies and cosmology, astrophysical spectroscopy, radio astronomy and X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy, numerical techniques and programming, statistical methods and particle and photons detectors. You will carry out hands-on exercises in observational techniques, space instrumentation, and analysis of large data sets. You will also be able to remotely use modern observational facilities and to participate in building space-qualified instruments. You may choose among three lines: space physics, observational astrophysics and theoretical astrophysics. These studies will prepare you for a career in research and development in industry or can often lead into PhD studies.
The prospects for employment at relatively senior levels is excellent for those trained in the physical and chemical sciences. Thanks to the broad scope of the programme, the skills and knowledge developed as part of this education at the University of Turku provide many employment opportunities in different areas.
Many of our graduates choose to continue their education by pursuing PhD studies in Finland or other European countries (e.g., Belgium, Estonia, Germany and Norway). Others have obtained employment in the software and high-tech industries, for example.
The Master’s Degree provides eligibility for scientific postgraduate degree studies. Postgraduate degrees are doctoral and licentiate degrees. The University of Turku Graduate School – UTUGS has a Doctoral Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences, and covers all of the disciplines of this Master Degree programme. Postgraduate degrees can be completed at the University of Turku.
Note that in Finland the doctoral studies incur no tuition fees, and PhD students often receive either a salary, or a grant to cover their living expenses. The Master’s programme is a stepping stone for PhD studies.
You are an eligible applicant for Master’s-level studies if
- you have a nationally recognized first cycle degree – normally a Bachelor’s degree – from an accredited institution of higher education,
- your degree corresponds to at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or to three years of full-time study,
- your degree is in a relevant field for the Master’s degree programme that you’re applying to. Please check the programme page for detailed degree requirements.
Applicants must have excellent English language skills and a certificate that proves those skills. You can indicate your language skills by taking one of the internationally recognized English language tests.
Applicants must reach the minimum required test results to be considered eligible to the University of Turku. No exceptions will be made. Read more about the language requirements here.
The applicant’s previous degree on the basis of which s/he is seeking admission to the Master’s Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences must be in a relevant field of study. Relevant fields of previous studies for the Astronomy and Space Physics track are
- or similar
You may apply to only one of the four specialisation tracks offered at the Master’s Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences. Therefore, it is very important to choose the track that is close to the field of your previous degree.
The contents of formally eligible applicants' previous degrees do not always correspond to the academic level of the programme. Therefore admitted students can be advised or required to complete up to 60 ECTS of additional, Bachelor level studies while studying for the Master's Degree. The extent and contents of the supplementary studies are defined individually for each student when a personal study plan is formulated in the beginning of the studies. The supplementary studies may be part of the Master's Degree only up to 20 ECTS and they may therefore extend the targeted study time.
Since the language of instruction in Bachelor’s level at the University of Turku is Finnish, an applicant needing supplementary studies available only in Finnish can be required to submit proof for Finnish skills during the application process. In case such proof is not submitted, the applicant needing supplementary studies must be rejected.
Annually 20 students are admitted to the Master's Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences. The decision of admission will be based on
- the relevance of the applicant’s awarded degree(s)
- the amount, relevance and grades of the courses in the degree(s)
- the language test result (see Language requirements)
- the motivation letter
- possible answers to the optional questions included in the application
- possible relevant work experience
- possible interview
Recommended topics for the motivation letter:
- Why did you choose to apply to this Master’s Degree specialization field, at the University of Turku?
- How would you rate the appropriateness of your earlier studies, in view of the programme?
- Do you have work experience that you regard as relevant background for master studies in the chosen specialization field?
- What are your expectations concerning the programme?
- What are your anticipations concerning employment after graduation, and/or plans for further studies?
It is possible to have only one Bachelor’s or Master’s study right at the Faculty of Science. Therefore, when accepting an offered study place, the student will lose any previous BSc. or MSc. study right at the same faculty.