Universiteit Leiden

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Welcome to Leiden University

You are about to start your studies at Leiden University. Make sure you are well prepared and get your studies off to a good start. Find out what you need to know and arrange by clicking on your faculty or study programme tab.

Welcome at the Faculty of Science. All information you will need to start with your studies, you will find on the programme's tab.

Is there no information yet, or did you not find an answer to your question? Please contact the co-ordinator or advisor of studies.

Welcome to the Astronomy master's programme! For a successful start of your two-year study programme, please carefully read all information below. Please note that this tab only covers Astronomy-related topics. General information about the Faculty of Science and Leiden University can be found on their respective tabs.

Click here if you follow the Astronomy Pre-Master's programme.

Getting started

In the month preceding the academic year in which you start your Astronomy master's programme, the Astronomy study coordinator will invite you to plan an intake meeting with the Astronomy study advisor. After scheduling the appointment, you will  receive instructions on how to prepare for the intake meeting (see next step).

The main objective of the intake meeting is to discuss your Master Study Plan and your research interests. This means that you have some homework to do before you start.

  1. Click here for instructions to draft your Master Study Plan. Please note that a template for drafting your study plan will be provided through e-mail.
  2. Think about the area(s) in which you would like to carry out your First Research Project. Together with the Astronomy study advisor, you will identify at least three potential supervisors in line with your research interests for your First Research Project. All three potential supervisors should be Leiden Observatory staff members. You will later talk to them in person before deciding whom to work with. Keep in mind that the First Research Project and the Master's Research Project cannot be in the same areas of research.

Consult the Astronomy master's schedule to find out when and where to follow your first courses. Make sure to enroll for your first exams in the uSis system at least ten days before the exam date. Click here for instructions.

Make sure to attend the Astronomy Introduction Meeting in the first week of your studies. Consult the Astronomy master's schedule to find out when this meeting is planned. The Education Office Astronomy and senior students will introduce you to the most important elements of the programme. The Astronomy Introduction Meeting combines informative, practical and social elements to help you get started with all aspects of studying Astronomy in Leiden and to get to know your fellow students.

Practical matters

If you come from abroad, you will need to take care of many practical matters both before and after arriving in the Netherlands. Prepare your stay step by step using this portal for international students. Starting from this page, please note that the Orientation Week Leiden and the Warm Welcome Service are highly recommended for getting started at Leiden University.

The education administration for the Astronomy master's programme is managed by the Education Office Astronomy. Make sure you get to know this team - they can support you in many matters regarding your study programme and your stay at Leiden Observatory.

Leiden Observatory offers dedicated ICT services used by Astronomy master's students. Click here for more information about email, network, hardware, software and helpdesk contact details.

For your room keys, coffee card and other facility- or workplace-related questions, please walk by the Education Office Astronomy in the Oort building, room 564 or contact the Astronomy master's programme coordinator at masters@strw.leidenuniv.nl.

An overview of all Leiden Observatory employees can be found on the institute websiteIf you already have a name and are looking for specific contact or other details, you can:

Leiden Observatory

Leiden Observatory consists of two overlapping entities: the research institute (in Dutch: onderzoeksinstituut) and the education programme (in Dutch: opleiding). The school of Leiden Observatory is the university structure responsible for the Astronomy bachelor’s and master’s education programmes. There is complete overlap between the staff of both entities. Both are part of the Faculty of Science (Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen or FWN), one of the seven faculties of Leiden University (Universiteit Leiden).

The name of the Leiden astronomy research institute is Leiden Observatory (Sterrewacht Leiden). Please note that Sterrewacht is spelled in traditional Dutch language with a capital ‘S’ and without the ‘n’ of sterrenwacht, the generic Dutch word for an astronomical observatory in the current spelling. As a research institute, Leiden Observatory is headed by the scientific director (wetenschappelijk directeur) and managed by the institute manager. Click here to learn more about the Leiden Observatory research institute.

Education Office Astronomy

The Astronomy bachelor's education programme (Sterrenkunde) and the Astronomy master's education programme are organised by the Education Office Astronomy. This team includes the director of studies, the programme coordinator, the study advisor, PR coordinator, internationalisation officer, student affairs officer and administrative support.

Various education-related committies are in place for the Astronomy education programme. More information and memberships of the Education Committee, Board of Examiners, Board of Admissions and Public Relations Committee can be found on the page University & faculty councils and programme bodies.

At Leiden Observatory, we have the following categories of scientific staff:

  • Tenured faculty include assistant professors (Universitair docenten), associate professors (universitair hoofddocenten) and full professors (hoogleraren). All are involved in teaching.
  • Postdoctoral fellows (postdocs) are part of the temporary scientific staff (tijdelijke wetenschappelijke staf) and are in Leiden usually for one to three years; most of them take this position directly after obtaining a PhD degree. They are generally supported by funds external to the university. Their role in the Astronomyt master's teaching programme usually pertains to the daily supervision of research projects.
  • PhD candidates (promovendi) are also part of the temporary scientific staff (tijdelijke wetenschappelijke staf). Although equivalent to (post)graduate students elsewhere, at Leiden Observatory they are not considered to be students but rather junior staff members. As part of their duties, they assist the tenured faculty as teaching assistants (TAs) for the courses in the Astronomy master's programme.

For finding people, see the relevant tab in the Practical matters block above.

Leiden Observatory is located in the Oort building at the Leiden Bioscience Park. Click here for a map and directions.

Astronomy master's programme

The Astronomy master’s programme in Leiden focuses on knowledge and understanding of:

  • The origin, structure and evolution of galaxies, including processes within the nuclei of the galaxies and the universe of which they are a part
  • Stars, including the interstellar medium, circumstellar gas and dust, and planetary systems

These objectives are reached through courses and research projects which offer you knowledge and insight in the interrelationship between various topics. The research projects allow you to focus on aspects of current research by our Leiden Observatory staff members.

The admission procedure for the Astronomy master's education programme in Leiden can be found on the student recruitment website. On this website you can also find the seven specialisations the Astronomy master's programme offers: four research-oriented specialisations (Research, Data Science, Instrumentation, Cosmology), and three combined specialisations (Business Studies, Education, Science Communication & Society). Each specialisation comprises two years (120 EC). 

The student website you are currently visiting is the central place for all relevant information for students. Please use the menu to navigate through the various topics.

The master’s programme will teach you to analyse and evaluate scientific information independently and critically, and to conduct academically sound research. Specialisation in certain fields is possible by conducting your major research project in either theory, observation or instrumentation, or some combination of these. Naturally, your choice of courses will also depend on the specialisation you prefer.

In comparison to some other Astronomy programmes, in particular the ones taught outside The Netherlands, it is very important to realise that the Astronomy master's programme in Leiden assumes and requires a great deal of self-reliance from you as a student. This cannot be overemphasized!

This implies both an opportunity and a responsibility for you. It is an opportunity for you to tailor the programme to your specific interests, preferences and abilities. However, it also means that you need to take the initiative to do so yourself, and that you need to exercise judgement to gauge whether a particular programme or course is suitable or not. This is where the study advisor can help, and you should always seek his or her advice on matters related to your study programme.

De Leidsche Flesch is the study association for students in Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science in Leiden. Book sales, excursions, study trips, (lunch)lectures, sports activities, symposia and informal get-togethers are only a few of the activities they organise. Moreover, exams from previous years are available for download from their website. Membership is recommended and only costs 5 euros per student. A free barbecue with fellow master's students is even included. Visit their website more information or to sign up as a member.

In addition, you can enrich your student life by becoming a member of other student's associations, including general student associations, international student associations, religious student associations and sports associations. Click here for an overview.

Career orientation

During the Astronomy master's education programme, we support you in making choices that are relevant to your future career. You will be stimulated to think about your ambitions and potential and to reflect on how to reach your goals. By actively exploring the possibilities, you enable yourself to make motivated study and career choices.

We organise various activities to help you think about questions like:

  • What are my strong skills and what skills can I still learn?
  • In which subjects do I want to specialise?
  • What subject will I choose for my Master Research Project(s)?
  • Which electives fit my future ambitions?
  • What do I want to learn next to my studies?
  • Which type of job would I like to do in the future?

For all courses offered in the Astronomy master's programme, the course description in the Astronomy Prospectus contain a summary of all career-relevant soft skills. These include skills like problem solving, analytical thinking, planning, responsibility, motivation, self-regulation, collaboration, communication, flexibility, creative thinking and integrity. Rules to master soft skills are not specific and therefore, you cannot graduate on soft skills. They require awareness and mastering soft skills is an ongoing journey throughout your life and career.

Twice a year, an Astronomy career information meeting is scheduled. This event is aimed specifically at Astronomy students and contains presentations of alumni, interactive workshops and networking elements. You will receive further information about the meeting contents in advance.

The Science Career Event is organised by students of the Faculty of Science every year. Whether you are actively looking to meet interesting companies, or even if you have no idea what you career will look like yet, the Science Career Event gives you a chance to speak with a large number of companies. During this event you can get your resume checked, participate in a workshop or speed date with a company to discuss possibilities in the near future.

If you want to get in contact with graduates of Leiden University, including alumni of the Astronomy master's programme, you can look into the Leiden University Mentor Network.

We offer you the Astronomy career event calendar. This calendar contains an up-to-date overview of all career events relevant to Astronomy master's students. You can easily add this calendar to your own Google calendar and never miss out on an event.

For additional support in career planning you can contact the Science Career Service. They frequently organize workshops and Career Colleges to share useful tips and information with the purpose of preparing you as well as possible for the job market. If you have any personal questions related to career perspective, you can always contact them for an individual appointment or during walk-in hours.

The Leiden University Career Zone is a website that offers support to Leiden University students and alumni, both during their studies and career. It offers advice, information and tools, including professional tests to draft your personal profile and job aplication tips.

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