Astronomy and Space Physics

Astronomy and Space Physics are among the most rapidly developing field of natural sciences. The amount of new data grows at enormous rate as new satellites are launched and ground-based facilities are opened. Both research fields are highly international.

The Department of Physics at the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu organizes a twoyear full-time Master’s degree programme in Astronomy and Space Physics (AstroSpace), which provides special qualifications and prepares specialists in astronomy and space physics. Students will be awarded a Master of Science degree in astronomy or physics.

The graduates will be ready to start research work in a specialized field. They will obtain the necessary knowledge that would allow them to enter the graduate programme aiming at receiving PhD degree in their major field.

Education in Finland is internationally known for its high quality which is recognized in international assessments like PISA. University of Oulu belongs to the top 400 world universities according to the Academic ranking of world universities.

The programme is open for applications from students with a Bachelor's degree in Astronomy, Physics or Theoretical Physics, or other sciences and technical sciences, with sufficient background in Physics (60 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System/ECTS credits) and mathematics (40 ECTS). A sufficient knowledge of English is required.

Research at University of Oulu

Astronomy nowadays is one of the most rapidly developing fields of physical sciences. Modern astronomy studies planetary systems, stars, galaxies, and the Universe as the whole, using physical methods.

The physical conditions of the objects under study are extreme: very high and very low temperatures, high and low densities, ultra-strong magnetic fields and extremely high energies. The amount of information is growing all the time thanks to the new generation of space observatories operating from radio to GeV energies and large ground-based telescopes.

The Finnish astronomers have access to the most modern Very Large Telescopes at European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile as well as to the Nordic Optical Telescope at La Palma island. They can also apply for time at the facilities of the European Space Agency such as International Gamma-Ray Astrophysical Laboratory and XMM-Newton observatories.

The main topics of the research in Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of Oulu are the theoretical and observational studies of the accretion-powered high energy sources such as neutron stars and black holes as well as gamma-ray bursts, and studies of the systems governed by the gravitational force, including planetary rings, satellite systems, barred galaxies, and interacting galaxies.

Space physics consists of ionospheric, magnetospheric, heliospheric and solar physics, which are closely connected.

The high-latitude ionosphere is coupled to the magnetosphere, which is further affected by the variable magnetic field and particle flux in the solar wind. The topics on ionospheric physics deal with the complex features of highlatitude ionosphere and the interaction with magnetosphere, e.g. auroral phenomena. Magnetospheric physics is concentrated on the physical processes of the Earth's magnetosphere, e.g., magnetic storms and substorms. Data from both ground-based and satellite instruments are used in the research. The main ground-based instruments are incoherent and coherent radars, magnetometers, auroral cameras and photometers.

Data from the EISCAT radar systems are used extensively and profound work on developing the incoherent scatter method is done. The exploited satellites fly both inside the magnetosphere and in the solar wind. They provide optical, particle and field observations. Examples of such satellites are Cluster-II, NOAA/POES, Polar and ACE. The heliospheric research makes use of observations of solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field as well as measurements of cosmic rays. The main subject of research of solar physics is the Sun, solar activity and its influence on the climate on Earth being among the hottest research topics.

Description of the Program

The extent of the Master’s degree program in Astronomy and Space Physics is 120 ECTS. It consists of 81 ECTS of studies in the chosen discipline (astronomy or space physics) which themselves consist of 40 ECTS of mandatory advanced courses, 35 ECTS for the Master thesis, a research project and a Maturity test.

In addition, there are mandatory courses for at least 15 ECTS in the neighbouring discipline (for majors in astronomy these are courses in space physics and vise versa), and additional courses chosen freely among the courses in astronomy, space physics or other complementary courses.

All these courses are given in English at the Department of Physics, University of Oulu.

Fulfillment of the Master Program

The fulfillment of the Master's Degree Programme requires passing the exams at the mandatory courses, getting the sufficient number of credits at the selected complementary courses, passing a written maturity test, writing the Master's thesis and defending it at a seminar.

See programme description according to ECTS criteria.

Last updated: 6/8/2014