Undergraduate prospectus

  • Start date: September 2017

Astrophysics MSci

This four-year programme offers an additional year of study on top of the Astrophysics BSc, during which students have the opportunity to specialise further by taking advanced optional modules, and undertaking a research project.

Key information

UCAS code
4 years
Application deadline
15 January 2017
Institute of Physics (See Degree benefits)
Applications per place
7 (2015 entry)*
Total intake
160 (2017 entry)*
* Figures relate to Physics and Astrophysics subject area

Entry requirements

A levels

Mathematics and Physics required.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C. For UK-based students, a grade C or equivalent in a foreign language (other than Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew or Latin) is required. UCL provides opportunities to meet the foreign language requirement following enrolment, further details at: www.ucl.ac.uk/ug-reqs

IB Diploma

A total of 18 points in three higher level subjects including Mathematics and Physics at grade 6, with no score below 5.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Edexcel Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF), or Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Diploma (NQF) with Distinction, Distinction, Distinction.

Pass in Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 23 credits awarded with Distinction in the Level 3 units, the remainder of the credits in the Level 3 units awarded with Merit.

D3,D3,D3 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects, including Mathematics and Physics.

AAA at Advanced Highers (or AA at Advanced Higher and AAA at Higher), including Mathematics and Physics at Advanced Higher.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A-Levels at grades AAA, including Mathematics and Physics.

International applications

In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are intensive one-year foundation courses for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.

For more information see: www.ucl.ac.uk/upc.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Degree benefits

  • The programme is accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and includes the very latest developments and discoveries in the field, based on our highly rated research.
  • Collaborative links with both industry and international research laboratories provide insight into the practical application of your studies.
  • You will undertake practical work at UCL's University of London Observatory (ULO) and benefit from our close association with the Royal Astronomical Society.
  • One third-year option includes a field trip to the Observatoire de Haute Provence in France.


This programme is accredited by the Institute of Physics. Holders of accredited degrees can follow a route to Institute of Physics membership and the Chartered Physicist (CPhys) professional qualification. Graduates of accredited Integrated Master's (MPhys or MSci) degrees have fulfilled the educational requirements for CPhys status, while graduates of accredited Bachelor's (BSc) degrees have partially fulfilled these requirements.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Physics and Astronomy.

  • 90% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 0.5 or 1.0 credits, adding up to a total of 4.0 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 1.0 credit is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Core modules in the first two years provide a grounding in mathematics and classical and quantum physics. You will also undertake modules which build up an increasing exposure to topics in astronomy and astrophysics. This starts in the first year with core modules in Physics of the Universe and Practical Astronomy. This is followed in the second year by Astrophysical Processes: Nebulae to Stars and Practical Astrophysics, leading into core third-year modules in Interstellar Physics, Physical Cosmology, and Astronomical Spectroscopy. The third year also provides for optional modules to further enhance and enrich your knowledge of astrophysics topics.

The fourth year comprises a compulsory research project in astrophysics, and a further five half-credit courses, generally chosen from subjects in the relevant degree speciality. A wide range of modules is available, including some taught by staff from other University of London colleges.

This programme is offered both as a three-year BSc and a four-year MSci, with common structures and subjects for the first two years. However, the additional fourth year of the MSci programme allows for a greater depth of study and we recommend you apply for an MSci initially, as this keeps more options open.


An indicative guide to the structure of this programme, year by year.

Compulsory modules

Classical Mechanics
Mathematical Methods I
Mathematical Methods II
Practical Skills 1A
Practical Skills 1C
Physics of the Universe
Thermal Physics
Waves, Optics and Acoustics

Optional modules

All first year modules are compulsory.

Compulsory modules

Astrophysical Processes: Nebulae to Stars
Electricity and Magnetism
Mathematical Methods III
Physics of the Solar System
Practical Astrophysics 2A
Quantum Physics
Statistical Thermodynamics

Optional modules

One optional module from the following list:

Environmental Physics
Mathematics for Physics and Astronomy

Compulsory modules

Astronomical Spectroscopy
Interstellar Physics
Physical Cosmology
The Physics of Stars

Optional modules

Experimental Physics
Practical Astronomy 1 - Techniques

Plus one of the following:

Group Project
Practical Astronomy 2 - Applications
Practical Astronomy 3 - Field Trip

You will also select 1.0 credit from a wide range of astrophysics options. Options may include:

Electromagnetic Theory
Energy and Climate
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Physics of Oceans, Ice Sheets and Climate (1.0 credits)
Physics of the Earth
Quantum Mechanics
Scientific Computing Using Object Oriented Languages
Theory of Dynamical Systems

Compulsory module

Astrophysics Project

Optional modules

You will select 2.5 credits from a wide range of optional modules.

Your learning

Teaching is undertaken through lectures, laboratory (and as appropriate, observatory) practical sessions, and supervised problem-solving tutorials. These tutorials are designed to deal with lecture-based questions, enlarge on topics addressed in lectures, and allow clarification and in-depth discussion of new concepts.


Assessment will normally involve end-of-year examinations, and an element of assessed coursework. For practical work you will be continuously assessed.

Further Information

Detailed course descriptions are available on the department website: Astrophysics MSci.


Your scientific training will equip you with an understanding of mathematics, and of physical principles and techniques, as well as transferable skills in analysis, rational argument and innovative problem solving. Surveys by the IOP indicate that physicists' versatility is welcomed by a wider range of professions than any other subject.

Around half our graduates choose to pursue further study for an MSc or PhD. A PhD opens up the possibility of an academic or research career in a university or research institute. Alternatively, like many of our graduates, you may consider employment in research, design, development, computing, finance, marketing and teaching, among others.


First career destinations of recent graduates (2012-2014) of Astrophysics programmes at UCL include:

  • Marketing Analyst, Dollar Financial UK
  • Technical Consultant, ORC International
  • Technical Business Analyst, Acturis
  • Project Controller, Network Research and Marketing
  • Technical Assistant, Kilburn and Strode

*Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012-2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers and UCL Innovation and Enterprise can help you find employment or learn about entrepreneurship.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2017/18 academic year and are for the first year of the programme only.

UK/EU students
£TBC (2017/18 - see below)
Overseas students
£23,710 (2017/18)

UK/EU undergraduate fees are currently (August 2016) capped at 9,000 and UCL charges fees at the level of that cap. This cap on UK/EU undergraduate fees is currently under review by the UK Government and may be subject to increase for the year commencing 2017 and for each year of study thereafter. Fees for overseas students may be subject to an annual increase in subsequent years of study by up to 5%.

Please see the full details of UCL's fees and possible changes on the UCL Current Students website


Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.

Departmental scholarships

The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.

Application and next steps

Your application

In addition to the subjects and grades specified in the qualifying examinations, we are also looking for evidence of self-motivation and an enthusiastic interest in the subject. This may be demonstrated through paid or voluntary work experience, academic project work, or your interests and hobbies beyond the school curriculum.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.

Application deadline: 15 January 2017


Your application will be carefully assessed based on your UCAS form and reference. If you are made an offer and based in the UK within a reasonable travelling distance of UCL, you will be invited to a compulsory applicant open day. This will include presentations, a tour of facilities and an opportunity to meet current students and staff members.

If you are based outside the UK, or not within reasonable travelling distance of UCL, open day attendance is optional and a telephone discussion with the admissions tutor will be available upon request.

For further information on UCL's selection process see: Selection of students

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