night sky over tekapo church

Astronomy is the oldest science, seen as far back as ancient China and classical Greece through to the Renaissance, where Copernicus, Kepler and Newton made huge contributions to our knowledge and understanding of the solar system and planetary motion. But the science of Astrophysics, which seeks to explain the structure and evolution of the stars and other celestial objects by applying the principles of physics to interpret our observations, is little more than a century old.

Currently Astronomy is undergoing huge expansion as:

  • we can now view the Universe at all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum
  • satellites can get above the atmosphere to detect gamma rays
  • on the ground huge telescope arrays many kilometres wide make exciting discoveries with radio waves
  • electronic detectors, known as CCDs, have replaced photography for optical observations in Astronomy and this data has led to new advances in our knowledge of the Universe.

A degree in Astronomy provides broad training in many branches of Physics as well as Astronomy, and graduates are highly employable in science, technology and computing industries. Graduates take on a broad range of careers.

Our researchers are engaged in internationally recognised work and postgraduate students have opportunities to take part in meaningful projects.

Astronomy study pathway

For prescribed courses for the Bachelor of Science in Astronomy please see the degree regulations on the University calendar.



  • ASTR 112: Astrophysics
  • PHYS 101: Engineering Physics A: Mechanics, Waves, Electromagnetism and Thermal Physics
  • PHYS 102: Engineering Physics B: Electromagnetism, Modern Physics and 'How Things Work'
  • MATH 102: Mathematics 1A
  • MATH 103: Mathematics 1B
  • COSC 131: Introduction to Programming for Engineers.
    • this course requirement may be waived for students with a demonstrated proficiency in Python programming.

PHYS 101 is offered in Semesters 1 and 2 and PHYS 102 is offered in Semester 2 and as a Summer Course. MATH102/103 may be replaced by EMTH118/119.

200 level


  • ASTR211: Observational Astronomy
  • PHYS 285: Technical and Professional Skills for Physicists
  • 45 points from PHYS 201-209
  • MATH 201: Multivariable Calculus

Strongly recommended

300 level


Required for postgraduate 

Students intending to proceed to BSc (Hons) or MSc in Physics, Medical Physics or Astronomy should take: 
(1) an additional two courses from 300-level PHYS or ASTR;
and (2) two additional courses from 300-level MATH or STAT.

Each October the PHYS 300 level guide is updated and availble by request from the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences office by emailing:

For more information,

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