How old is the Universe? How do galaxies develop? What is found between the stars? How are planetary systems formed? Are you fascinated by questions like these? Then Astronomy is right for you!
If you are interested in natural sciences, this international programme will appeal to you. You will study the physical processes in the universe, which means that physics and mathematics are an important part of the programme.
Our three-year programme ranks as a top-degree in the Netherlands and has a regular intake of 50-60 students, ensuring many contact hours and availability of excellent facilities. You still have the opportunity to switch to (Applied) Mathematics in the first semester and you can still switch to (Applied) Physics in the first year. This means you can never go wrong!
Spectacular discoveries have recently been made in the field of astronomy, mainly because technological advances make new things possible. In Groningen you can concentrate on the universe itself, or on developing and improving instruments. Our broad programme even offers a specialization in instrumentation and informatics in the minor phase as an alternative to the general Astronomy minor.
The Groningen astronomers are among the best in the world. Research has been carried out at the University since 1883. Groningen astronomers collaborated in the development of the HIFI instrument in the Herschel space telescope, and are involved in the international LOFAR network of radio telescopes.
The work I do now isn't vastly different from the studies I did at Groningen
After my Bachelor's degree I worked for my PhD at Groningen and went on to a postdoc position in Los Angeles. I am now Professor of Astronomy at Yale University. I research the formation and evolution of galaxies. My degree prepared me perfectly for this job. The basic set-up of the work I do now isn't vastly different from the studies I did at Groningen.
The best advice I could give to anyone wanting to study here is to just do it. I'm sure they won't regret it
I'm from Riga, the capital of Latvia in Eastern Europe. Although it's a large city and there are some good universities, I didn't feel challenged enough in my studies. I wanted to broaden my horizon and really dig into a subject in order to stay motivated. Riga couldn't offer me that. That's why I decided to go abroad.
When I looked for places to study, I wanted to make sure that I would go to a 'top 100' university that offered interesting degree programmes in English. That way, I would be challenged studying, but I would also be able to improve my language skills. English is essential, and I didn't get a chance to speak, read or write it much at home.
When I found the University of Groningen, they were very helpful with the application process. There is a lot of stuff to fill in and sort out, and it is important to get it right. Fortunately, I could always get in touch with any questions. The only thing I wish I'd known then was to start looking for rooms straight away. It's not hard to find one, as long as you take the time to look.
The programme was exactly what I was looking for: tough, but interesting. I like being busy and putting a bit of pressure on motivates me. The lecturers all speak English and are really engaging. I particularly like the tutors that are students themselves, as they are able to explain things on our level, from our point of view. There's always someone to ask for help or advice.
The Netherlands did not disappoint either: it is a cool country,
and although I was excited about being able to learn more about my
study subject, I also enjoyed discovering a new city. It really
broadens the mind. It's a very compact, beautiful city, so it's
easy to get around and find your way. There are lots of busses and
of course you can get anywhere on a bike.
It's a real student city: over 25% of the population are students, and there are lots of things to do to entertain yourself and meet people. There are over 4000 other international students from all over the world, and it's nice to hang out with them and share similar experiences. The Dutch students are really easy to talk to and are always up for a chat or helping out. And although everyone speaks English – even in the supermarket - the Dutch spirit is contagious.
The best advice I could give to anyone wanting to study here is to just do it. I'm sure they won't regret it. Oh, and they can drop by my place any time they like.
Sometimes I can't stop going on about the latest discovery in space
'The stars and the universe have fascinated me since I was a child. There are so many questions, but not always an answer. I like the idea that I might be able to help find some of these answers.
Alongside studying I’m also an active member of the study association and a student association, and I help with the Discovery Truck. It’s great to get to know lots of different people. Sometimes I’ve had enough of talking about physics, but other times I can’t stop going on about the latest discovery in space! I’m a member of various association committees, where you learn to organize at a different level. You learn to manage money, make schedules and, most importantly, to work in a team. I have also benefited from the analytical and logical way of thinking you learn in Astronomy to find the solution to a problem. Whether I’m organizing a members’ weekend or a study excursion, it always comes in handy. I also participate actively in sports, which is a great way to take your mind off things after a busy day and it also keeps your brain fit!’
Practical work for hard science
'I've been working as Junior Commissioning Engineer for ASTRON, a radio astronomy institute, for about a year now. I did my final project here as part of my Master's programme in Instrumentation & Informatics, and they offered me a job.
This job ties in perfectly with my degree programme, although team meetings and project-based work were new for me. As a Commissioning Engineer my job is to make sure that the systems and equipment are ready for use. I test subsystems and check that they continue to function correctly when used in tandem, for example.
I am currently working on a receiver for the Westerbork Radio Synthesis Telescope. My work involves analysing data from behind my computer, but also taking measurements on location together with the system developers. This combination of concrete and practical work combined with the development of systems for hard science suits me perfectly!’
Boudewijn Hut - Junior Commissioning Engineer