The MSc in Astrophysics and Relativity is a one-year full-time course. Students will gain advanced knowledge of astrophysics, general relativity, computational science and data analysis and the up-to-date skills required to understand the universe we live in. You will also learn a variety of computational and data analysis skills that are highly sought-after in a wide range of industries.
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The detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave observatories and developments in electromagnetic based observations are contributing to the continued growth of the fields of astrophysics and cosmology, for example the direct imaging of the black hole at the centre of the galaxy M87 by the Event Horizon Telescope. There is a need to increase the number of scientists with the advanced knowledge and skills required to work in these fields, modelling the behaviour of high-energy sources, predicting their electromagnetic and gravitational wave emissions, observing these signals, and analysing the corresponding data streams.
The course is jointly run by the DCU School of Mathematical Sciences and the DCU School of Physical Sciences and led by researchers from the Centre for Astrophysics and Relativity (CfAR).
The course involves three main strands: Astrophysics, Relativity, and Computational Science and Data Analysis. All topics are covered in the first semester of the course, laying the foundations for the advanced study of these topics in the second semester.
In the General Relativity strand of the programme, you will study both astrophysical and fundamental physical properties of Black Holes, including gravitational collapse, the laws of black hole mechanics and Hawking radiation. You will learn about the generation of gravitational waves by the collision of black holes and other astrophysical processes and their propagation across the universe. You will also learn the science behind their detection by ground- and space-based observatories.
In Astrophysics, you will study Plasma Astrophysics, High Energy Astrophysics, Galaxies, and will supplement this knowledge with the study of observational techniques. You will learn about the formation and evolution of galaxies. You will gain deep insight into the plasma astrophysics governing star formation, planet formation and interstellar turbulence. In relation to High Energy Astrophysics, you will study the processes that lead to the emission of X-rays and gamma-rays from different sources, and how these are detected.
As part of the programme, all students undertake a project in a chosen area of Astrophysics or Relativity. Students are individually supervised by academics and researchers from CfAR, and apply their theoretical and computational skills to cutting edge research in Astrophysics and Relativity. In addition, by completing the project, students will develop transferable skills in relation to research, technical writing and scientific communication.
All students will also take modules in Computational Physics and in Data Analysis. As well as supporting your study of Astrophysics and Relativity, these modules will equip you with skills in computing and in analysing ‘big data’ that are of immediate relevance in a wide range of careers, including information and communications technology, engineering, banking and finance.
The programme is led and delivered by members of CfAR, a research group based in the DCU School of Mathematical Science and the DCU School of Physical Science specialising in the areas of Astrophysics and Relativity. The group has particular expertise in the areas of black hole physics, gravitational waves, plasma astrophysics, turbulence, galaxy and star formation, cosmic magnetic fields and high energy astrophysics. CfAR research is published in the leading international journals, and members engage in research with a wide range of colleagues around the world.
“One of the great things about the MSc in Astrophysics and Relativity at DCU, is that it gives you the opportunity to get to know both the astrophysics path, which is more related to observational physics, as well as the general relativity one, which is more theoretical. It allows you to get to know important aspects and fields of physics that are currently under research such as gravitational waves, black holes, gamma-ray and x-ray sources.
Another very good aspect of the programme is related to the very friendly and comfortable environment. Professors are very open to chat, answer questions and give further explanations if you need.”
MSAR student, 2021-22
You will be ideally positioned to undertake postgraduate research in Astrophysics and Relativity in DCU and elsewhere. Students will have the opportunity to work with CfAR researchers to develop research proposals and to seek research funds.
With the skills you develop in computing and data analysis, you will have excellent career opportunities in a wide range of employment sectors, including information and communications technology, data analytics, engineering, banking, finance and business consultancy.
- For admission to the M.Sc. in Astrophysics and Relativity, candidates must have completed a recognized primary degree (NFQ Level 8) in Physics, Astrophysics, Theoretical Physics, Mathematical Sciences, Applied Mathematics or a closely related field (e.g. Engineering), with a minimum of a Second-Class Honours, Grade 1 Award (H2.1).
- Transfer from related Level 9 programmes in DCU or other third-level institutions is subject to having fulfilled educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to those outlined above.
- International candidates who are non-native speakers of English must satisfy the University of their competency in the English language. More information about DCU's English language requirements can be found here.