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

Physical and Chemical Sciences: Astronomy and Space Physics

Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Turku

From the Sun to supernovae, neutron stars, black holes and galaxies!

The Astronomy and Space Physics track is one of the four specialisation 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.


Programme structure

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.

Examples of different modules in different specialisations are:

You can replace the project work by participating in a Capstone project (15 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.

Academic excellence & experience

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.

Master's thesis & topics

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 modeling
  • 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 modeling of blazars
  • 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
Specialisation tracks

The Master’s Degree Programme of Physical and Chemical Sciences has four tracks. A short description of each specialisation 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 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 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.


Competence description

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.

Job options

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.

Career in research

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.


General degree requirements

A BSc 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.

Track-specific degree requirements

The applicant’s previous degree on the basis of which s/he is seeking admission to the Master’s Degree Programme should be in a relevant field of study. Relevant fields of previous studies for this Master’s Degree Programme are physics, chemistry, astronomy, materials science, theoretical physics or similar depending on the chosen specialisation track.

Applicants may choose only one of the four available tracks upon application. Therefore, it is very important to choose the track that is closest to the field of your previous degree.

The decision of admission will be based on

  • the relevance of your awarded degree(s)
  • the amount, relevance and grades of the courses in your degree(s)
  • your language test result (see Language requirements)
  • your motivation letter and possible answers to the optional questions included in the application

A previously earned Master’s degree does not automatically place the applicant ahead of other applicants.

If need be, the most promising applicants will be invited to an online interview.

Additional studies

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 additional, Bachelor level studies. These can be done while studying for the Master’s Degree, but they are not part of the degree and may extend the targeted study time. The amount of required additional studies cannot exceed 60 ECTS.

Since the language of instruction in Bachelor’s level at the University of Turku is Finnish, an applicant needing additional studies can be required to submit proof for Finnish skills during the application process (see Language requirements). In case such proof is not submitted, the applicant needing additional studies must be rejected.

Language Requirements

All applicants must prove their knowledge of English in one of the ways accepted by the Faculty.

Applicants required to complete additional studies can also be requested to submit proof for their skills in Finnish.


Application Form and Enclosures

The application form for the studies starting in autumn 2018 is available online during the application period on 1 December 2017 – 31 January 2018 at 15:00 (local time in Finland, GMT +2). On the same form you can apply for any but only one of the four tracks in the Physical and Chemical Sciences programme. Enclosures are attached to the application in digital form (pdf).

If you are graduating only after the deadline, you may apply on the condition that the required application documents are submitted and arrive at the University of Turku by 10 July 2018 at 15:00 (local time in Finland).

STEP 1: Collect the required application documents

The following documents must be scanned and attached to the electronic application (in pdf format, in color) at the Studyinfo portal:

  • The original degree certificate (in the original language) AND an English, Finnish or Swedish translation (or an English-language Diploma Supplement concerning graduates from European universities) of the degree certificate.
  • The original transcript of study records (in the original language) AND an English, Finnish or Swedish translation (or an English-language Diploma Supplement concerning graduates from European universities) of the transcript of records.
  • Certificate of knowledge of English (see Language requirements).

All translations must be made either by an authorized translator or by the degree awarding institution. Each page of an official translation must bear the translator’s stamp and/or signature. Official translations must be exact translations of the original documents. Translations done by the applicant him- or herself are not accepted.

STEP 2: Write a motivation letter

Prepare a motivation letter to be copy-pasted on the application form. The letter of motivation is an important factor in considering the applicant’s suitability to the programme so please prepare it carefully. Please notice that the motivation letter may be checked for plagiarism with the Turnitin system of the University of Turku.

Also be prepared to describe the grading scale used at your institution at the time of your studies. The grading scale must include all the grades and marks appearing on your transcript of records and their relation to each other. You should also provide a link to an official website where this information can be verified. (In many cases this information is already included in the transcript of records.)

The application form also includes programme specific questions. Therefore reserve some time for filling in the application form.

STEP 3: Fill in the application form

The application form is filled online in the Studyinfo portal. Please search at for the Master’s Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences. The application form is available and a completed application can be updated until the end of the application period on 31 January 2018 at 15.00 (GMT +2). On the form you must choose for which one of the four tracks you are applying to.


Annually 20 students are admitted to the Master’s Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences. The admission decisions are published by 28 March 2018. All applicants will be informed by email, but also hard copies are sent upon request. All students are required to start in the beginning of the autumn semester, and there is no separate admission for the spring semester.

The admitted applicant will have to show the originals of his/her educational documents (degree certificate and transcript of study records) at the University of Turku after arrival in Finland. Depending on the country the original documents may have to be attested or legalized. Please see the country specific requirements for the submission of the documents upon arrival already before applying.


Master’s Degree Programme in

Physical and Chemical Sciences:
Astronomy and Space Physics Track


Degree: Master of Science

Duration: 2 academic years, 120 ECTS credits

Mode of study: Full-time

Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science and Engineering

Location: Turku, Finland

Language of instruction: English

Start date: August 2018

Application period: 1 Dec 2017 – 31 Jan 2018

Tuition fee for citizens of EU/EEA countries or Switzerland:  None

Tuition fee for citizens of non-EU/EEA countries:  €12,000 /academic year

Scholarships available: check the website




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