Master : Astrophysics track

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The Astrophysics specialization at the University of Strasbourg consists in a specific ‘track’ within the Master of Physics. It’s a two-years program :

  • a first year (M1) dedicated to general physics, with optional astrophysics courses during the two semesters. The M1 courses are commonly shared by all the master of physics students, independently of their 2nd year specialization.
  • a second year (M2) entirely dedicated to astrophysics and taking place at the Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory.

Even though it is recommended to take part in the two years program in Strasbourg, external students with an M1 equivalent from another academic institution are frequently directly enrolled in M2.


Master 1st year :

Teachings are commonly shared among the different tracks of the Master of Physics. They aim at building up the expertise in general physics with courses on e.g. quantum and statistical physics, particle physics, condensed matter physics, scientific computing.

Elective courses can also be chosen. Among the possibilities, students that aim for a specialisation in astrophysics should chose at least one among the following two :

  • Objects of the Universe and their observation (1st semester) (Resp. Drs. S. Derriere & B. Vollmer)
  • Stellar Physics (2nd semester) (Resp. : Prof. A. Lançon)

There is also a possiblity to conduct a personnal research project, supervised by a member of the Strasbourg Observatory. This work, that combines bibliography and personal developments, leads to a written report as well as an oral presentation. Finally, M1 students must do an internship in a lab during the 2nd semester and the Observatory regularly host students for this purpose.

Master 2nd Year : Diploma Objectives

Our goal is to educate scientists and astrophysics experts. For this purpose, the teaching aims at providing a view of the current state of knowledge in our field and of the methods used on a daily basis by professional astrophysicists. We rely on the expertise of the research groups (GALHECOS and CDS) at the Strasbourg Observatory such as:

  • The physics of galaxies and the Milky Way, including their relations to cosmology
  • The study of stars and their evolution, populations or environments
  • The astrophysics of high-energy phenomena and of compact objects (such as black holes, neutron stars/pulsars)
  • the developments related to the Virtual Observatory, the use of catalogs and surveys and the management of large and complex datasets in astronomy
  • the usage of numerical simulations for astrophysics, high-performance computing and novel methods such as machine learning

Methods for Astrophysics

The M2 of astrophysics offers a wide range of fundamental teachings in modern astrophysics but with an equal focus on methods such as :

  • scientific computing (Python, scripts, parallel computing, simulations)
  • data science (setting up databases, SQL, catalogs management, inverse methods, AI)

The teaching relies heavily on projects, to nurture group interactions, creativity, synthesis as well as providing frameworks to practice written and oral reports.

We also offer the possibility to practice astronomical observations using the installations at the Observatory or during field trips on professionnal astronomical facilities. During these sessions, all the concepts, from data acquisition at the telescopes to the interpretation of processed data, are then reviewed.

Teaching in English

The teaching (M1 and M2) is fully provided in english, even for French students, including written and oral reports, as well as examinations. We regularly host non-French speaking students. Not only this choice offers a greater overture, but it also provides a realitisc view of the practice of astronomy in an international context.

After the Master

The students objective is often to be accepted in a graduate astrophysics program to prepare for a PhD. The Astrophysics M2 in Strasbourg send between 5 and 7 students (out of a dozen) to such programs every year, in Strasbourg, elsewhere in France or abroad. Other students usually pursue a career in the industry, in domains where our teaching can easily find a wide range of applications data science, numerical simulations, scientific computing).

Are you looking for more informations ?

A brief view of the courses provided at the M2 level is available here

If you want to apply to the M2 of Astrophysics, the procedure is on this page

News about the M2 and the course timetable can be found here

Questions about the diploma and its content should be sent to Prof. Dominique Aubert. Questions related to the administrative side of the process can also be sent to the Physics Faculty offices.