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Organization of the teaching

Astrophysics is a lively domain of research both at the French and international level. Its discoveries keep surprising us and help us better understand the place of the mankind in the universe. The field offers a
wide variety of application of physical laws and principles. The parcours Astrophysics of the Master of Physics at Unistra is an original training in the sense that it seeks not only to train young researchers able to work in a large domain of astrophysical research, it also trains the student on scientific methods and tools that they will be able to use on a wider domain, wider than astronomy. For example, domains dealing with the analysis and handling of large data sets.

During the first year of the Master degree, students follow a training that is largely common to all physic's parcours. Astrophysics is taught via optional modules, practical works and short term project works.

During the second year, lectures are held at the Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg. There, students will in contact with the researchers and the training is closely linked to the research domains of the Observatory while providing the fundamental knowledge base in astronomy and astrophysics necessary to any astrophysicist (astrometry, stars, galaxies, interstellar medium, cosmology). Astrophysics of stars, galaxies, the evolution of the universe, high energy astrophysics, astrophysical medium theory, numerical simulations but also database management and exploitation are central to the training.


Lectures, tutorials and practical works of the compulsory Unité d'Enseignement (UE) are common to the different parcours of the Master degree and are taught in French. They are devoted to quantum mechanics, statistical physics, nuclear physics, particle physics, state of the matter and scientific computing. An important UE, named "Physique Experimentale" allows the students to do some practical work in a research laboratory partner of the training. At the pace of 1.5 to 2 days per week, the students discover experiences and work in different domain of physics, including astrophysics.

Optional lectures complete the training. Among the proposed lectures, students of the parcours Astrophysics are invited to choose one of the following courses:

  •     Les objets de l'Univers et leur observation (1st term) ;
  •     Physique des astres (2nd term).

Other optional courses have an interest for astrophysics, especially relativité générale (1st term).

Finally, the student can choose to replace one of the classical UE by a research project in contact with a researcher. This project combines a bibliographical search part and a personal development part. The result of this project are presented in a written manuscript and an oral examination.


The schedule of the parcours Astrophysics is derogatory. The first term ends in February.

Lectures held at the Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg or Friburg university are given in English. Lectures shared with other master degree in France are likely to be given in French,

First term (September-February)

Students will follow lectures (both compulsory and optional) at the Observatoire astonomique de Strasbourg.

  • Optional courses: Student will choose 2 or 3 optional courses among the list of optional courses provided at the beginning of the academic year. The possibility to choose an external courses is possible but subject to the approval of the Education officer.

Students will participate in the weekly lab seminar as well as some joint seminars with the parcours Physique Subatomique et Astroparticules of the Master degree.

Second term (February-June)

During this term, teaching is devoted to develop synthesis skills, oral and written presentation and team work based on less traditional lecturing. A 15 weeks internship is also part of this term to develop a working knowledge in astrophysical research.

This term includes:

  • a bibliographical project
  • a 5 night observing run at Observatoire de Haute Provence
  • a data acquisition and analysis project on the in-house telescope
  • a 15 weeks internship in a research laboratory in astrophysics or other institution/company

The internship can be made at the Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg or in any research institute around the world. so far students have done their internship in many places including Germany, Switzerland, USA, Canada, England, Australia, Chili etc.
Finding an internship is the Student's responsibility. Search for an internship starts already in October-November. Internship offers in France will by made available to the students via the SF2A website dedicated to internship. The administrative paperwork handling is of the responsibility of the student although the education officers are keen to help the students with guidance to select the appropriate subject and administrative procedures.


A room equipped with computers and visioconference system is made available to the students at the Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg. A dedicated server hosting 4 GPU units is also reserved to the students to run their numerical simulation projects and other computing project.

The Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg hosts also a 2xT36 telescope equipped with a camera and a spectroscope that the students will use to train on data acquisition and analysis.

A library containing more than 150 scientific textbooks is reserved to the Master students. Moreover, access to the institute library can be granted on a case by case basis under control of the librarian and access to scientific publications under the observatory registration is opened in the computer room.


First term M2 workload (2018-2022)


Hours Lecture/Tutorial/Practical

Introduction to astrophysics and computing 42h
Common-core syllabus
Astrophysics : Stellar physics, galaxies, cosmology & interstellar medium 64h
Data analysis 40h
Numerical physics and astrophysical medium modeling 76h
Optionnal UE  (2 or 3 upon validation by the study officer) 
High energy astrophysics 20h
Galaxy evolution 20h
Inverse problem theory and advanced data analysis 20h

Note : Personal work outside of the scheduled lectures and tutorial is important. The scale for the personal workload to the scheduled workload is 3, valid for all M2 of the Master degree in physics.

Second term M2 workload (2018-2022)


  Hours Lecture/Tutorial/Practical

Initiation to astronomical observations (2 projects). Bibliographical 1 week full time + 19h + a few early nights
Internship 15 weeks full time in a research department

The second term is based on projects (individual and team projects), hence the number of teaching hours is low. The personal workload is however high.


A large part of the knowledge check is done continuously (personal work to be handed in on a fixed date, projects, presentations). Traditional tests (final exam for a given UE) are rare.

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