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Education Bachelor's degree programmes Astronomy
Header image Astronomy

Astronomy

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 has been frequently voted as a top-degree Astronomy programme in the Netherlands and has a regular intake of more than 70 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!

Nearly every year sees spectacular discoveries in the field of astronomy. These are largely driven by technological advances. In Groningen you can concentrate on a wide range of topics such as our milky way, the structure and dynamics of galaxies, the universe itself and the formation of planetary systems, as well as the development and improvement of instruments. Our broad programme even offers a specialization in instrumentation and informatics in the minor phase as an alternative to the general Astronomy minor.

Groningen astronomers belong to the top of the world. Astronomy research has been carried out at Groningen University since 1883. They have been heavily involved in the construction and use of the Westerbork radio telescope (WSRT). At the moment they play a key role in the development and use of the LOFAR network of radio telescopes and the future Square Kilometer Array, while leading the development of instruments for the upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) in Chile. They also have key roles in space projects, such as leading the development of the HIFI detector in the Herschel satellite, the data processing center of the upcoming Euclid cosmology satellite, while having a leading role in the Gaia satellite mapping of our Milky Way.

Facts & Figures
Degree
BSc in Astronomy
Course type
Bachelor
Duration
36 months (180 ECTS)
Croho code
50205
Language of instruction
English
Start
September
Faculty
Science and Engineering
Studie in Cijfers
Why study this programme in Groningen?
  • The Astronomy programme in Groningen offers you space to better orientate yourself in your study choice. It is possible to switch to Physics, Applied Physics or Mathematics during the first year.
  • The University of Groningen has its very own observatory! As an Astronomy student you can use it to your own benefit and apply what you learn directly and make exciting observations.
  • Groningen has good connections with research institutes such as SRON (satellites instrumentation) and ASTRON (radio-astronomy).
Programme
CoursesCourse Catalog >
Calculus for Physics 1 and 2
Electives: Introduction Astronomy, Introduction Energy & Environment, Medical Physics, Introduction in Nanophysics, Medical Physics & Biophysics, Physics of Modern Technology, Physics of Quantum Universe
Electricity and Magnetism
Introduction to Programming and Computational Methods
Linear Algebra
Mathematical Physics
Mechanics and Relativity
Observational Astronomy
Physics Laboratory 1
CoursesCourse Catalog >
Complex Analysis
Numerical Methods
Physics, Astronomy, Ethics and Society
Physics of Galaxies
Physics of Stars
Quantum Physics 1 & 2
Statistics for Astronomy
Structure of Matter 1
Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
Waves and Optics
CoursesCourse Catalog >
Astroparticle Physics
Astrophysical Hydrodynamica
Bachelor's Project (15 ECTS)
Electives and minor e.g. Cosmology, Materials Science and Engineering, Introduction to Radio Astronomy
Interstellar Medium

Curriculum

Astronomy in Groningen stands out for its academic excellence and research orientation. The work pace in the first year is generally high and the course contents demanding. The first year curriculum concentrates on laying a sound basis in mathematics and physics. The third year includes a free minor, as well as a research project which is carried out in one of the research groups.

Credits per year: 60 ECTS; most courses are 5 ECTS.

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is optional
  • Maximum of 30 EC

Exchange: All our science and engineering programmes offer study abroad possibilities at a number of partner institutions. Our partners include top-100 universities in Europe (for example in Germany, UK, and Sweden) and in the USA, China, South-East Asia, and South America. Our exchange programmes have a typical duration of one semester and count toward your final degree.

Entry requirements

Admissible Dutch diploma profiles

  • VWO Natuur & Techniek
  • VWO Natuur & Gezondheid

    wiskunde B + natuurkunde

  • VWO Economie & Maatschappij

    wiskunde B + natuurkunde

  • VWO Cultuur & Maatschappij

    wiskunde B + natuurkunde

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
language test

Language proficiency certificate for English (except for applicants with a Dutch vwo-diploma as well as the exemptions listed on the language exemptions webpage). More info: https://www.rug.nl/fse/programme/admissions/bsc/language

other admission requirements

Before you apply!

When you cannot fulfil the vwo requirement, due to deficient profile or if you want to be admitted on the basis of a successfully passed first year of HBO or colloquium doctum, you need to submit an additional admission request via the Admission Board Bachelor programmes. Please go to this website for more information.

Please note! The admissions procedure is independent of the matching procedure. Information about the matching procedure can be found here

Choice of degree programme check

More information about matching: https://www.rug.nl/fse/education/matching

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202301 September 2023
EU/EEA students01 May 202301 September 2023
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202301 September 2023

Choice of degree programme check

More information about matching: https://www.rug.nl/fse/education/matching

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
additional subject

Mathematics and Physics.

This is merely an indication of required background knowledge. The admissions board determines whether the specific contents of this/these course(s) meet the admission requirements of the bachelor programme for which you applied.

language test

Language proficiency certificate for English (except for applicants with a Dutch vwo-diploma as well as the exemptions listed on the language exemptions webpage): https://www.rug.nl/fse/programme/admissions/bsc/language

other admission requirements

Before you apply!

In addition to the general end level requirements, the Bachelor's programme applies subject-specific requirements . The Admissions Board also needs to determine whether a student possesses the required background knowledge in subjects relevant to the Bachelor's programme.

Please note! The admissions procedure is independent of the matching procedure. Information about the matching procedure can be found here

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202301 September 2023
EU/EEA students01 May 202301 September 2023
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202301 September 2023
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2022-2023€ 2209full-time
non-EU/EEA2022-2023€ 15080full-time

The Dutch government is halving tuition fees for first-year students in higher education.

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

Every year we are pleased to be able to report that Astronomy graduates have no problem finding a job. They find jobs in astronomy, but just as easily in the business sector – both within and outside the Netherlands. Depending on which Master's specialization you choose, - Research, technology, advising - there are many career paths open to you!

Continue with astronomy research

As a PhD student you will spend four years carrying out research with professors in a particular field. You then write a thesis, which will earn you the title of Doctor.

Interested in the technology of astronomy?

The degree will qualify you for positions in companies that develop advanced technologies for satellites and telescopes. Many of the techniques you learn as an astronomer are also very useful in other disciplines. The newest medical scanners for example, contain technical advancements originally developed for telescopes.

Excellent career opportunities in the business sector

Astronomers have strong analytical abilities, and are able to solve complicated problems. You will therefore be highly employable in areas where strategy, risk assessment and models are important. A large number of graduates therefore find work with large international companies, software firms and large financial institutions.

Job examples

  • Researcher
  • Advisor
  • Technical innovator
Research

Research interests

Research interests within the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute:

  • Active Galactic Nuclei and Quasars
  • Cosmology and the Large Scale Structure of the Universe
  • Formation, Evolution and Structure of Galaxies
  • High-energy astrophysics: Neutron stars and black holes
  • Advanced Instrumentation
  • Star and Planet formation and the Interstellar Medium of Galaxies
  • Virtual Observatory and Astronomical Datacenters

The Kapteyn Astronomical Institute uses the most advanced instrumentation on the ground and in space, as well as the most advanced computing facilities. Kapteyn staff are involved in the operation as well as planning and construction of major astronomical instrumentation efforts. Master students at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute work in research groups that are working on state-of-the-art astronomy and astrophysics topics. The Kapteyn Institute has close connections with the two major national organizations dealing with astronomical instrumentation: ASTRON and SRON.

ASTRON, the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy, provides front-line observation facilities for Dutch astronomers and astronomers worldwide across a broad range of frequencies and technologies. ASTRON operates the Westerbork Radio Synthesis Telescope, one of the largest in the world, and offers a strong technology development programme, encompassing both innovative instrumentation for existing telescopes and new technologies for future facilities. The latter include the new, revolutionary low-frequency array LOFAR and the APERTIF antenna array, which will be operated by ASTRON together with the University of Groningen. ASTRON and its facilities are within a one-hour drive from Groningen.

SRON is the national centre of expertise for the development and exploitation of satellite instruments for astrophysical and earth-oriented research. The low energy astrophysics branch of SRON (infrared and submillimeter instrumentation and techniques) is hosted by the University of Groningen. Scientific discoveries and instrumentation development go hand in hand as a result of the connections between Kapteyn Astronomical Institute and SRON Groningen (IRAS, ISO, Herschel Space Observatory, just to mention a few successful missions). In short, the combination offered by the University of Groningen and the ASTRON and SRON Institutes is unique in the world.


Apply nowBrochureEventsContact
Bachelor's Open DayBroerstraat 5More information
Online BachelorweekMore information
Bachelor's Open DayBroerstraat 5More information

Contact

  • Ask Our Students! (Like to talk about the programme and student life with someone currently studying Astronomy?)
    Email: astrostudents rug.nl
  • Academic Advisors FSE (For questions regarding the programme)
  • studyscience@rug.nl Studyscience (For general questions for all prospective students)
    Email: studyscience rug.nl
  • 
						Testimonial of Niall Foley

    Every day something new and exciting

    – Niall Foley
    Read more

    Ever since I was little, I had a fascination for the world around me and for everything beyond it. In secondary school, I enjoyed physics, mathematics, and chemistry, so it was clear to me that I wanted to find a degree programme related to at least one of those three subjects. What's more, I wanted to follow a degree programme taught in English.

    At the annual Student Fair in Luxembourg, I came across a University of Groningen brochure and realized quite quickly that this would be my city of choice. Initially, I was unsure whether I should choose Physics or Astronomy. Yet, after visiting the University during the Bachelor’s Open Day, I eventually decided on Astronomy since the subject also concerns itself with the field of physics in which I was most interested.

    What I like most about the programme is the fact that I get to learn something new and exciting about astronomy almost every day. Of course, the programme is challenging at times, but for me that is an extra stimulus to do my best.

    Aside from my studies, I do competitive running (mid- and long-distance). When choosing the city that I wanted to study in, it was important for me to be able to continue my running. I find having a good work-life balance essential and for me, running and studying have to go hand-in-hand. I am glad to say that I have achieved this balance here in Groningen. I am also part of the Sirius A study association. After missing out on many social aspects of student life last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am very eager to spend more time with other Astronomy students and to make new friends.


    When it comes to my future, I am yet not focusing on a specific path, as I am open to any opportunity that may present itself. I could actually see myself occupying a teaching position either at a secondary school or even a university later in life. But firstly, I can say that after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy, I will stay here in Groningen for my Master’s degree.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Dagmar Rozendal

    The combination of programming, the great group of people and the degree programme brings a lot of joy!

    – Dagmar Rozendal
    Read more

    After finishing my pre-university exams, I first studied Electrical Engineering at a university of applied sciences to acquire more practical skills but I missed the theoretical side. I started looking at university degree programmes, and spent a long time trying to choose between Physics and Astronomy. In the end, I chose Astronomy because programming was one of the things I enjoyed when studying Electrical Engineering, and it was included in the Astronomy degree programme.

    I also noticed that there was quite a lot of overlap with the Physics programme, which meant that I could always switch programmes. It never came to that though because the combination of programming, the great group of people, the Kapteyn Institute, and the degree programme still brings me a lot of joy!

    This year, I hold the Secretary position at the Sirius A study association. This means that, at the start of the year, I register all of our new members and throughout the year I am responsible for our email communication to make sure it runs smoothly. As secretary, I also do a lot of paperwork: I take minutes during the weekly board meetings and the biannual general members’ meetings, compose the monthly newsletter, and write articles for the almanacs of other associations. I really enjoy that.

    This year, I am also going to write my Bachelor’s thesis and choose a Master’s degree programme. I expect my thesis to include a lot of programming and data analysis. If I enjoy that, I would like to choose a Master’s degree programme in that direction as well. You have a lot of options with Astronomy. I also took the Teacher-training Minor, which means I am allowed to teach as well. For now, I would like to focus on Astronomy. But who knows, maybe in the future I will end up in a classroom! All in all, the future is still unclear, but I am sure everything will work out. A lot of students I know still do not know what they want to do in life yet, or, like me, switch between degree programmes. Trying out different things during your Bachelor’s phase can help you understand what is a right match for you and what isn’t.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Grigore-Leon Rațiu

    Fascinated by the Universe

    – Grigore-Leon Rațiu
    Read more

    My name is Grigore-Leon Rațiu. I grew up in a town on the coast of the Black Sea, Constanța, in Romania. I have always wanted to study Astronomy and Physics.

    Wait, I'm actually spinning things around: I've always wanted to study Physics, but I have also always been fascinated by the Universe. A natural consequence of being interested in physics. The University of Groningen has given me the opportunity to study both degree programmes simultaneously. Perhaps the best thing about studying these programmes, is the fact that they keep me challenged.

    I decided to study in Groningen because I believe that the University of Groningen is a great university, but I also truly enjoy the city. It's nice to bike through, quiet outside of the city center, very clean, and safe!

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Boudewijn Hut

    Practical work for hard science

    – Boudewijn Hut
    Read more

    '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

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Jasper Pluijmers

    There's plenty to discover and develop, and that's what I find most important in a job

    – Jasper Pluijmers
    Read more

    After obtaining Bachelor's degrees in Physics and Astronomy, I thought I wanted to become a researcher but, during my Master's, I decided to look beyond the academic world. I still find astronomy and physics very fascinating topics. It's exciting to study the world and the universe. Someone from the company Nedap came to hold a talk for my study association and I ended up doing a traineeship with them. They gave me further training to become a software engineer.

    Nedap works on technological solutions for various markets. I work in the retail department, in which we make anti-theft tags for clothes shops, for example. These tags work through small antennas and chips that are worked into every piece of clothing. Each piece of clothing has a unique number that can also be used for inventory management and data analysis.

    I work on the software for these tags and the corresponding anti-theft gates, which actually has a lot more to do with physics and astronomy than you might think because this software uses radio antennas. We might not be picking up signals from light years away but many principles are the same. What I like about this work is the fact that it’s useful and can be used in the real world. There’s plenty to discover and develop, and that’s what I find most important in a job.

    My tip for prospective students: make sure to go on company visits. Many companies are looking for science graduates but they don’t always know how to get in touch with you. So, if you see an interesting company, just give them a call and I’m sure you’ll be invited to come around for a chat.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Pieter van Dokkum

    The work I do now isn't vastly different from the studies I did at Groningen

    – Pieter van Dokkum
    Read more

    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.

    Close

Study associations

Sirius A

Sirius A is the study association for astronomy in Groningen, the Netherlands. Astronomy in Groningen is taught at the Kapteyn Institute and is part of the University of Groningen.
Besides aiding you in your study, Sirius A informs you on future career prospects, promotes social bonding between you and your fellow students by many events and gives you the opportunity to participate in voluntary work and explore your qualities. Furthermore, Sirius A is always open for cooperation. Please contact us if you have any questions or queries.
https://www.astro.rug.nl/~sirius/

FMF

The FMF is an association for the Bachelor's programmes Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Applied Physics, Physics, Astronomy and all of the subsequent Master's programmes at the University of Groningen.
The association pursues three objectives. The first objective is that it wants to contribute to the broadening of the scientific education of its members. This is done by organizing various activities in the scientific field, such as study excursions, lectures and symposiums.
https://www.fmf.nl
Read more
(Binding) study advice
  • A minimum of 45 EC in the first 12 months (binding)

You will be issued a study advice at the end of your first year of study. You can expect a positive study advice if you have earned at least 45 ECTS credit points (out of a total of 60 ECTS; most course units are 5 ECTS). If you have earned fewer than 45 ECTS and are issued a negative study advice, you will not be allowed to continue your degree programme.

You will receive a preliminary study advice in December to make sure that you know where you are. Please contact your study advisor as soon as possible if you have any questions about the BSA system.

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