About this course
This MSc in Astrophysics is delivered by world-leading researchers at Liverpool John Moores University and is designed to facilitate further postgraduate and PhD study.
- Access the two metre research-class robotic Liverpool telescope - designed and built by LJMU experts
- Learn from academics who are world-leading researchers
- Carry out original research in a wide range of areas
- Gain a qualification which facilitates continued study at PhD level
An ideal choice if you prefer the flexibility of studying remotely and gaining a Masters qualification by distance learning. Each module provides the opportunity to explore current literature, with support from experienced tutors, all of whom are engaged in cutting-edge astrophysical research.
Many of the research topics are observational studies, which can be supported by access to the Liverpool Telescope, a two metre aperture research-quality robotic telescope, sited on La Palma in the Canary Islands.
The robotic nature of the telescope means that you do not travel to the telescope, but interact with it via a computer interface, giving unrivalled flexibility for studying rapidly changing objects in the night sky. This course is an excellent way to specialise and further your academic career in the exciting and dynamic astrophysics field.
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Fees and funding
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students
The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:
- Library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
- Access to programme-appropriate software
- Library and student IT support
- Free on-campus wifi via eduroam
Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:
- accommodation and living expenditure
- books (should you wish to have your own copies)
- printing, photocopying and stationery
- PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
- mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
- field trips (travel and activity costs)
- placements (travel expenses and living costs)
- student visas (international students only)
- study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
- academic conferences (travel costs)
- professional-body membership
- graduation (gown hire etc)
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.
Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.
Further your career prospects
LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.
This Astrophysics MSc programme is particularly focussed on preparing you for a research career in astronomy, astrophysics, space science or related disciplines.
In these areas, entry to top-level research is almost always via the PhD route, and it is anticipated that most of the students taking this MSc will be interested in further study at PhD level and beyond.
The ARI has a long-standing and healthy PhD programme and we are well-placed to help you in applying for PhD places on our own programme and in other institutions worldwide.
The MSc itself provides the opportunity for you to plan and complete a substantial programme of original research at the highest level. All projects should have the potential to result in papers in refereed journals.
Discover the building blocks of your programme
Your programme is made up of a number of core modules which are part of the course framework. Some programmes also have optional modules that can be selected to enhance your learning in certain areas and many feature a dissertation, extended report or research project to demonstrate your advanced learning.
This module develops your understanding of concepts in astrophysics. It:
- develops your knowledge of grounding in orbital mechanics and the formation and evolution of planetary systems
- provides an understanding of the physical processes which determine all aspects of the structure and evolution of the interstellar medium and stars (ISM)
- provides a firm physical framework for this appreciation by investigating the mechanisms which govern the structure and appearance of the ISM
- introduces you to the diversity of galaxy morphologies, dynamics evolution and components
- allows you to illustrate the importance of multi-wavelength observational approaches to the study of galaxies
- provides an introduction to modern observational cosmology and various cosmological models
This module provides students with an in-depth understanding of the fundamental concepts underlying observational astrophysics, including performing detailed procedures of research in observational astrophysics such as:
- astronomical data reduction
- data analysis
- error inference
- interpretation of results
- the write up of a scientific report in the format of a journal paper
There will be particular emphasis on developing independent learning skills and undertaking practical exercises. Please note that the assessment of this module will include a recorded viva examination to assess competency.
This module develops the skills required to undertake real scientific research. It enables you to:
- work independently on an original problem
- display qualities and skills such as initiative, ingenuity and communication
- develop and analyse independent research
This module provides the theoretical background required to understand various cosmological models including the favoured CDM model. It:
- gives an understanding of modern observational cosmology
- enables you to make detailed cosmological measurements from galaxy or cluster survey data
Numerical Methods in Astrophysics
This module aims to give students an understanding of programming basics and provide students with practical experience of using computational techniques extensively employed by researchers in astronomy and astrophysics.
There will be particular emphasis on developing independent learning skills and IT capability to access and extract relevant scientific information via the Virtual Learning Environment and databases available from LJMU.
This module aims to develop your understanding of the variable/transient Universe, and the techniques and facilities used to investigate this realm. It provides a sound understanding of the physical processes driving phenomena such as explosive transients. It:
- introduces the concepts of time domain astrophysics and the techniques used to analyse and understand it
- develops your independent learning skills and IT capability to access and extract relevant scientific information
An insight into teaching on your course
This is a distance learning programme and thus you will define your own particular hours of study.
You will learn through pre-recorded lectures, directed reading, focused literature review exercises, coursework assignments, student discussion groups and tutorials. All learning materials are delivered by LJMU's Virtual Learning Environment. You will have access to all the major astrophysical research journals and a carefully selected range of e-books to support your studies and extend your reading.
Access to The Liverpool Telescope means that you can put your learning into practice.
How learning is monitored on your programme
To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme.
Most of the taught modules on this programme are assessed with a written examination.
Other assignments, designed to support your learning and check progression during the course of the module, may include: quizzes, short essays and critiques of scientific papers.
The research project and dissertation are examined by both a written report and an oral presentation/interview. In most cases the oral interviews will be done via video link, though you may opt to come to Liverpool to do this in person.
Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning
Dr David Bersier
David has a degree in Physics and a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Geneva (Switzerland). He also has a Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Fund that allowed him to spend three years at Mt Stromolo Observatory (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia). He has worked at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA) and at the Space Telescope Science Institute (Baltimore, MD, USA). David’s research is centred on variable and transient sources. He works on Cepheid variable stars, mostly to refine and improve their use as distance indicators in the Universe. He also works on gamma-ray bursts and in particular their associated supernovae. David is part of the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN), a project that monitors the whole night sky every other night. He works on nearby supernovae and on new types of transients found by ASAS-SN. The robotic Liverpool Telescope, owned and operated by LJMU, is key to his observational efforts.
I encourage students to ask questions, no matter how basic or naïve they may seem. Every so often a question from a student will contain or point to an important truth.
What you can expect from your School
You will need:
- a minimum 2:2 in the physical sciences or a STEM discipline (e.g. science, technology, engineering, mathematics, etc.)
- a good knowledge of basic physics at degree level, and competence in mathematical techniques including calculus, differential equations and complex numbers
- a satisfactory reference from your employer or line manager
- As this is a Distance Learning programme the usual rules in terms of UK Visas and Immigration restrictions to full-time study do not apply
- IELTS 6.5 (minimum of 5.5 in each component)
- Pearson PTE Academic 64 (minimum 59 in each component for UKVI purposes)
- RPL is accepted on this programme
If you have any specific queries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Application and selection
Securing your place at LJMU
You will apply for the majority of postgraduate courses using our online application form. You should complete the form thoroughly and provide a detailed personal statement which reflects your suitability and aptitude for the programme.
Applicants who do not hold a degree in a relevant subject will be considered on their individual merits in relation to the programme. Professional experience, publications, CPD activities and other suitable evidence of accomplishment will be taken into account.
To discuss the programme please contact:
- David Bersier - email: D.F.Bersier@ljmu.ac.uk, tel: 0151 231 2939
- David Hyder - email: D.Hyder@ljmu.ac.uk, tel: 0151 231 2900
The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.