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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

* 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 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 Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses

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

Astronomy Core Courses

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

General Astronomy Courses

Galaxies: structure, dynamics and evolution 6
Simulation and Modeling in Astrophysics (AMUSE) 6
Star and Planet Formation 6

Specialist Astronomy Courses

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

Other Instrumentation-related Astronomy Courses

High Contrast Imaging 3

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:

Code EC
Space Instrumentation AE4880 4
Space Systems Engineering AE4S12 3
Geometrical Optics AP3392 3
Advanced Photonics AP3382 6
Imaging Systems AP3221 D 6

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

Inter-faculty Electives

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

Additional Astronomy bachelor 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.