Astrophysics & Relativity

You will also learn a variety of computational and data analysis skills that are highly sought-after in a wide range of industries.

You can find out more from our academics below:
• Black Holes
• Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology
• Gravitational Waves
• High Energy Astrophysics

The detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave observatories and developments in electromagnetic based observations are contributing to the continued growth of the fields of astrophysics and cosmology, for example the direct imaging of the black hole at the centre of the galaxy M87 by the Event Horizon Telescope. There is a need to increase the number of scientists with the advanced knowledge and skills required to work in these fields, modelling the behaviour of high-energy sources, predicting their electromagnetic and gravitational wave emissions, observing these signals, and analysing the corresponding data streams.

The course is jointly run by the DCU School of Mathematical Sciences and the DCU School of Physical Sciences and led by researchers from the Centre for Astrophysics and Relativity (CfAR).

The course involves three main strands: Astrophysics, Relativity, and Computational Science and Data Analysis. All topics are covered in the first semester of the course, laying the foundations for the advanced study of these topics in the second semester.

In the General Relativity strand of the programme, you will study both astrophysical and fundamental physical properties of Black Holes, including gravitational collapse, the laws of black hole mechanics and Hawking radiation. You will learn about the generation of gravitational waves by the collision of black holes and other astrophysical processes and their propagation across the universe. You will also learn the science behind their detection by ground- and space-based observatories.

In Astrophysics, you will study Plasma Astrophysics, High Energy Astrophysics, Galaxies, and will supplement this knowledge with the study of observational techniques. You will learn about the formation and evolution of galaxies. You will gain deep insight into the plasma astrophysics governing star formation, planet formation and interstellar turbulence. In relation to High Energy Astrophysics, you will study the processes that lead to the emission of X-rays and gamma-rays from different sources, and how these are detected.

As part of the programme, all students undertake a project in a chosen area of Astrophysics or Relativity. Students are individually supervised by academics and researchers from CfAR, and apply their theoretical and computational skills to cutting edge research in Astrophysics and Relativity. In addition, by completing the project, students will develop transferable skills in relation to research, technical writing and scientific communication.

All students will also take modules in Computational Physics and in Data Analysis. As well as supporting your study of Astrophysics and Relativity, these modules will equip you with skills in computing and in analysing ‘big data’ that are of immediate relevance in a wide range of careers, including information and communications technology, engineering, banking and finance.

Subjects taught

MSc in Astrophysics and Relativity - Programme structure
Semester 1 - Core modules
Module Code Module Title Credits Resit Category
EE514 Data Science and Machine Learning 7.5 1
MS536 Differential Geometry & General Relativity 7.5 1
MS509 Partial Differential Equations 7.5 1
PS526 Theoretical Astrophysics 7.5 1

Semester 2 - Core modules
Module Code Module Title Credits Resit Category
PS530 Computational Physics - Core 7.5 1
PS528 Extragalactic Astrophysics 5 1
PS529 High Energy Astrophysics 5 1
MS539 Gravitational Waves 7.5 1
MS540 Black Hole Physics 5 1

Semester 3 - Core module
Module Code Module Title Credits Resit Category
FSH512 Project (Astrophysics and Relativity 30 2

Semester 1 - Module Outlines
EE514 Data Science and Machine Learning
This module will equip students with the skills to handle and analyse large, complex data sets. Topics from probability, statistics and computing, and data science will be covered, and students will apply these in a variety of settings, including astrophysics and relativity.

MS536 Differential Geometry and General Relativity

This module introduces students to General Relativity – Einstein’s geometric theory of the gravitational field – and provides them with the mathematical tools required for its study. General Relativity underpins a wide range of astrophysical phenomena where gravitation is the dominant force at work (black holes, the Big Bang, gravitational wave emission), and where precision measurements of phenomena influenced by gravity are important (the GPS system). The module includes the study of the conceptual foundations of GR and Einstein's equation and the applications of this theory to our universe.

MS509 Partial Differential Equations

This module introduces students to both the methods and underlying theory of solving partial differential equations. Students will become familiar with first-order quasi-linear and second-order linear partial differential equations. A selection of analytic techniques for solving some partial differential equations that frequently occur in applications will be given. This module provides both a platform for modeling with partial differential equations and an introduction to analysing the nature of these equations. Students will develop an ability to critique the various solution methods and demonstrate a deep understanding of when and why they can be used.

PS526 Theoretical Astrophysics

In this module, students will study the life cycle of stars of different masses, and study the role of radiative processes in a variety of astrophysical phenomena. They will analyse the key role of plasmas in astrophysics, and study the structure and formation of the interstellar medium. They will analyse and critique different models of stellar and galactic formation.

Semester 2 - Module Outlines
PS530 Computational Physics

In this module, students will be introduced to the ideas of computational astrophysics including programming language paradigms, numerical methods, algorithms, stochastic methods, and high-performance computing. Students will have the option to learn and use different programming languages including Python, C, and C++.

PS528 Extragalactic Astrophysics

This module focuses on a general understanding of the properties of galaxies and the intergalactic medium, along with the different observational techniques used to study them.

PS529 High Energy Astrophysics

This module focuses on the non-thermal processes governing the high energy Universe, including radiative processes and particle acceleration. The objects of study range from our Sun to Active Galactic Nuclei, to Gamma Ray Bursts, and to the Universe as a whole.

MS539 Gravitational Waves

The recent direct detection of gravitational waves has opened up a qualitatively new window into astronomy and fundamental physics, and this module provides students with a foundation in this area. The physics of gravitational waves will be developed in general relativity, from the generation and propagation of these waves through to their observable consequences.

MS540 Black Hole Physics

This module covers both classical and quantum aspects of black holes. Topics include the no-hair conjecture, black hole formation, laws of black hole mechanics, Hawking radiation and black hole thermodynamics, black hole evaporation, and the information loss 'paradox'.

Semester 3 - Module Outline
FSH512 Project (Astrophysics and Relativity)

In this module, students will work under an academic supervisor (a researcher from the Centre for astrophysics and Relativity) to carry out a project in the areas of astrophysics and/or relativity. Formal aspects of the module will help the students to develop research skills, technical writing skills and presentation skills. Students will have the option of pursuing a project in an area of their own choice, or in an area proposed by an academic member of the programme team.

Indicative project topics include:
Investigating the GeV periodicity of gamma-ray binary systems
Missing Baryons in the Shapley Super-cluster
A convolutional neural network (CNN) for exoplanet detection
Three-dimensional simulations of proto-planetary disks
Modelling the Eclipse Profile of High Mass X-ray Binary Cen X-3
The magneto-rotational instability in low-metallicity disks
Study of high-energy emissions from accreting and non-accreting γ-ray binaries
Particle detectors in black hole spacetimes
Extended body dynamics in Petrov classified spacetimes
Vacuum metamorphosis model and its effects on the expansion of the Universe
Singularities in the early universe
Cauchy horizon instability in charged black holes
The Anti-Hawking effect in the BTZ black hole

Entry requirements

• For admission to the M.Sc. in Astrophysics and Relativity, candidates must have completed a recognized primary degree (NFQ Level 8) in Physics, Astrophysics, Theoretical Physics, Mathematical Sciences, Applied Mathematics or a closely related field (e.g. Engineering), with a minimum of a Second-Class Honours, Grade 1 Award (H2.1).

• Transfer from related Level 9 programmes in DCU or other third-level institutions is subject to having fulfilled educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to those outlined above.

• International candidates who are non-native speakers of English must satisfy the University of their competency in the English language.

Application dates

Application Deadlines
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the programme is full or until the following dates:

• Closing date for non EU applicants is 1st July 2024
• Closing date for EU applicants is 31st July 2024

All entry requirements should be met before the commencement of the programme.

Queries from EU applicants should be directed to

Queries from non EU applicants should be directed to

To apply for this programme:
• All Applicants must apply through DCU's Student Application Portal.
• Provide Academic Transcripts for each and every year of study with English translation if applicable.
• Please upload a CV, outlining details of relevant experience, under the "Supplemental Items & Documents" section.
• If applicable, provide evidence of competence in the English language as per DCU entry requirements.

Please see link

Please note if you are a non EU student and require a study visa, you are not eligible to apply for part-time programmes as study visas are only granted for full-time programmes.


1 Year Full-Time
2 Years Part-Time

Enrolment dates

The programme commences in September 2024

Post Course Info

You will be ideally positioned to undertake postgraduate research in Astrophysics and Relativity in DCU and elsewhere. Students will have the opportunity to work with CfAR researchers to develop research proposals and to seek research funds.

With the skills you develop in computing and data analysis, you will have excellent career opportunities in a wide range of employment sectors, including information and communications technology, data analytics, engineering, banking, finance and business consultancy.

More details
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  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

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