Astronomy and astrophysics are concerned with the study of the nature and distribution of matter and radiation throughout all time and space in the Universe.
Astronomers have always been keen to harness the latest technological advances in their quest for ever more precise and revealing observations. As a consequence, astronomy in recent years has been one of the most rapidly expanding of all physical sciences and many exciting and unexpected discoveries continue to be made.
UC is the only university in Aotearoa New Zealand to offer the study of Astronomy at all levels.
Te Kura Matū | School of Physical and Chemical Sciences has an exciting programme of teaching and research, often using state-of-the-art facilities as part of its core work. These include:
- field stations for meteor and atmospheric research, which are located at Te Mata Hāpuku Birdlings Flat, and at Scott Base, Antarctica
- an internationally important astronomical observatory at Ōtehīwai Mount John, Takapō Tekapo, equipped with computer-controlled instruments and cryogenic detectors
- UC-constructed Hercules, a high resolution spectograph to search for planets and do improved stellar astrophysics.
The School collaborates nationally and internationally as well. For example, we have a collaboration with Nagoya University in Japan, who installed a 1.8 metre telescope at Ōtehīwai Mount John for finding planets orbiting distant Milky Way stars.
The Ōtautahi Christchurch Aerospace Strategic Plan aims to make the city the centre of Aotearoa New Zealand's aerospace technology sector by 2025, which will extensively use UC's facilities and research programmes, and offer students internships and other entrepreneurial opportunities in the industry.
UC is ranked in the top 250 universities in the world for Physics and Astronomy (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2020).
Year 13 mathematics and physics are strongly recommended for ASTR 112 Astrophysics.
Certain courses require a background in Year 13 physics and calculus.
UC offers a major and a minor in Astronomy as part of the Bachelor of Science.
To complete a major in Astronomy within the Bachelor of Science, you will need to take the following courses throughout the degree:
- ASTR 112 Astrophysics
- PHYS 101 Engineering Physics A: Mechanics, Waves and Thermal Physics
- PHYS 102 Engineering Physics B: Modern Physics and Electromagnetism (2)
- MATH 102 Mathematics 1A
- MATH 103 Mathematics 1B
COSC 121 Introduction to Computer Programming or COSC 131 Introduction to Programming for Engineers is also recommended.
- PHYS 285 Technical and Professional Skills for Physicists
- MATH 201 Multivariable Calculus
- ASTR 211 Observational Astronomy or ASTR 212 Dynamical Astronomy and the Solar System
- Three 200-level PHYS courses
- ASTR 381 Advanced Experiments in Physics and Astronomy
- PHYS 310 Thermal, Statistical and Particle Physics
- One 300-level PHYS course
Plus at least one of:
For the Astronomy minor in the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Sport Coaching, or Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership, you will need to take these courses throughout your chosen degree:
Students majoring in Astronomy acquire a wide range of skills, from the use of spectroscopic and photometric detector systems (and the analysis of the data obtained), through electronics and optics, to computer skills for analysis and interpretation of data. This produces a graduate who is well equipped to undertake employment not only in astronomy, but in any number of fields that require practical experience or that involve analysis of real data.
Studying Physics and Astronomy equips graduates with skills in problem solving, abstract thinking, evaluating, communicating, and decision making. It develops high levels of curiosity, inventiveness, and mathematical and computer competencies.
Graduates may follow traditional paths and work either as scientists, technicians, research assistants, engineers, astronomers, patent agents, technical authors, or even managers at an observatory or in an institute. However, many Astronomy graduates move into other fields, particularly computing and information technology, management, and science communication or media work. With some additional study, graduates can become meteorologists, geophysicists, material technologists, or medical physicists.
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Astronomy.
See the School's website for up-to-date location details.
College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
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