Master's Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences: Astronomy and Space Physics

University of Turku

Program Description

Master's Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences: Astronomy and Space Physics

University of Turku


The astronomy and space physics track is one of the four specialization tracks of the master’s degree programme in physical and chemical sciences. It 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 (e.g. accretion processes, the physics of black holes and neutron stars) and cosmology.

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 structure is modular. All modules have 20 ECTS. Each specialization 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 the seminar, internship, and project work (10 ECTS) are also required, details of which depend on the specialization. See figure below.

Examples of different modules in different specializations are:

You can replace the project work by participating in a Capstone project (15 ECTS) organized 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 specialized courses in astrophysics and space physics are highly recommended.

The specialized 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 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.


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 ample opportunity 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.
  • Magnetospheric truncation of an accretion disk around the unique X-ray pulsar GRO J1744-28.
  • Mass and radius constraints for neutron stars from pulse shape modelling.
  • Near-infrared observations of supernovae with the Nordic Optical Telescope.
  • Constraints for core-collapse supernova progenitors with the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
  • The population of supernovae and their progenitors in starburst galaxies.
  • Detection of radio supernovae with the VLA.
  • The evolution of supernova 2011ap from near ultraviolet to infrared.
  • Photometric studies of exoplanet transits of stars in the open cluster M44.
  • Polarimetric studies of binary stars: the case of HD 4809.
  • Effects of the large-scale structure in the age distribution of galaxies.
  • Variability of optical polarization and gamma-ray flux in blazar jets.
  • Linear polarization of BL Lacertae OJ 287 at 21 cm.
  • Spectroscopic studies of Fermi LAT blazars.
  • Long-term optical monitoring of blazars.
  • Very high energy gamma-rays emitting BL Lac’s population study.
  • Non-linear synchrotron self-Compton modelling of blazars.
  • A 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 in Physical and Chemical Sciences has four tracks. A short description of each specialization track is given below. You can find more detailed information of tracks from the specific site of each track in this portal (UTU Masters).

Students specializing 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 datasets.

The studies of Materials Physics and Materials Chemistry give you an ability to understand and to develop the properties of materials from molecules and nanoparticles via metals, magnetic and semiconducting compounds for pharmaceutical and biomaterial applications. After graduation, you will be familiar with the current methodologies, research equipment and modern numerical methods needed to model properties of materials used in research and technology. Note that there is a sister programme (Master’s Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences) with a specialisation in medicinal chemistry.

In Theoretical Physics you can specialise in various fields at the forefront of European and international research such as quantum technologies, fundamentals of quantum physics, quantum information and optics, quantum field theory and cosmology. You will learn rigorous mathematical and numerical methods to model physical phenomena and solve physical problems with several possible interdisciplinary applications also outside physics. Examples are the studies of complex systems, data science, and machine learning.


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 datasets. 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 to PhD studies.


The prospects for employment at relatively senior levels are 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.


A Bachelor’s degree that formally qualifies the applicant to access Master’s level studies in the country where it has been completed. This degree should correspond to at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or to a minimum of three years of full-time study. You must also prove your English language skills when applying. Please visit the website of the programme for more information.

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Last updated November 23, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2019
2 years
Full time
12,000 EUR
per academic year. Tuition fee for citizens of non-EU/EEA countries.
Jan. 31, 2019
Application period: 3 Dec 2018 – 31 Jan 2019
Finland - Turku
Start date : Aug. 2019
Application deadline Jan. 31, 2019
Application period: 3 Dec 2018 – 31 Jan 2019
End date July 31, 2021
Aug. 2019
Finland - Turku
Application deadline Jan. 31, 2019
Application period: 3 Dec 2018 – 31 Jan 2019
End date July 31, 2021