Astronomy has been of interest to humans for centuries. It’s a science that deals with the study of the outside of our immediate atmosphere. This includes stars, planets, comets, the shape of the universe and the big question – how did it all begin? Astrophysics is regarded as a subset of Astronomy, which is primarily concerned with understanding the properties of stars and galaxies, rather than measuring their positions and motions like with Astronomy.
Both Astrophysics and Astronomy are physics based and take a multidisciplinary approach. Students undertake the challenge of studying something we cannot manipulate, touch or sometimes even see. This relies on theory-based work, scientific models and observations of our universe.
Astronomy entertains the inquisitive mind, provides students with tools that allow them to extend beyond their own experiences and provides explanations of our universe that will contribute to the scientific community. If you have big questions, are interested in the world that is beyond our own and want to develop the way you think, Astrophysics and Astronomy might be the course for you.
What will I study?
While at university, students will be provided with the skills to use maths, statistics, computing, observational techniques and many more. Each of these areas will be introduced in a broad way, and later students will develop each skill to appropriately understand theories of the universe. An Astrophysics course is more theoretical whilst the study of Astronomy is based on observations. In the final year of the degree students will have the opportunity to undertake their own project and engage in the research world of Astrophysics and Astronomy. During these projects, students can use some of the School’s impressive facilities and instruments including an astronomical observatory on site with a half-metre optical telescope, a solar telescope and a 3-m radio telescope and its extensive image processing and data reduction facilities.
Many Astrophysics and Astronomy graduates stay in academia to do further research in their fields, taking posts as lecturers and research scientists. Others have gone on to work in industry with organisations such as the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Oclaro Technology and the Ministry of Defence. The skills gained within the subjects allows graduates to assist a meteorological office or even gain employment within the legal system.