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Gaining research experience

Gaining research experience is an essential part of any academic study programme. There are various ways in which you can gain research experience.

You can, for example, undertake a research internship with a company or institution, or carry out research on behalf of Leiden University. Talk to your  Study Adviser about the options available within your programme.

During the Astronomy bachelor's programme you will gain broad astronomical research experience. In the first year, you will perform your first astronomical observations in the Practical Astronomy course, followed by the Astronomy Lab and Observing Project in the second year. In the third year you will conclude the Astronomy bachelor's programme with the Bachelor Research Project.

First year: Practical Astronomy

In the first year of the Astronomy bachelor's programme you will follow the Practical Astronomy course (5 EC). This practical class provides training in defining, analysing and solving a problem, and in drafting a scientific report. Integral parts of the Practical Astronomy course include a visit to the ARTIS Planetarium in Amsterdam and hands-on observing with the modern Gratama telescope at the Old Leiden Observatory.

Second year: Modern Astronomical Research

The second year of the Astronomy bachelor´s programme offers the course Modern Astronomical Research, where you learn what it is to be an astronomical researcher. You learn to pose challenging research questions and to communicate results. You will also be introduced to searching and interpreting scientific astronomical literature.

Second year: Astronomy Lab and Observing Project

In the second year of the Astronomy bachelor's programme, upon completion of the Practical Astronomy course in the first year, your will perform the Astronomy Lab and Observing Project (5 EC). As part of this project, you will go on an observing trip to the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos at La Palma, one of the Canary Islands. To this end, you will draft your own research proposal that, upon approval, you will perform yourself on the 2.5 m Isaac Newton Telescope. You will present the results of your research orally and in a scientific poster.

The Isaac Newton Telescope at La Palma where second-year Astronomy bachelor students perform their Astronomy Lab and Observing Project
The Isaac Newton Telescope at La Palma where second-year Astronomy bachelor students perform their Astronomy Lab and Observing Project

Third year: Bachelor Research Project

In the third year of the Astronomy bachelor's programme you will perform the Bachelor Research Project (22 EC). This is one of the most important elements of the Astronomy bachelor's programme. You will join one of the research groups at the department and carry out your own project with them. Projects may involve analysis of new observations, calculating models for astrophysical processes, or a combination of the two. Lab work in astrochemistry or optical instrumentation is also possible. During this period, you get a desk and computer at the Leiden Observatory, and attend regular progress meetings with your research group. The project is concluded with a scientific report and a final presentation.

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