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Undergraduate Studies

Are you interested in studying astrophysics?

Hear about studying astrophysics from our astronomy students:
Dancing under the African Skies, UCT PhD students on studying astronomy (January 2015).
Itumeleng Monageng and Mokhine Motsoaledi on SABC Morning live (29 April 2016).

The undergraduate major in Astrophysics at UCT

The undergraduate major in Astrophysics at UCT has been offered since 2006. In 2013, we have introduced a second 2nd-year course (AST2003H: Astronomical Techniques). This course combines a large practical component (radio and optical astronomy practicals) with theoretical background in astronomical techniques, instrumentation and data analysis. In 2013, AST2002S (offered prior to 2013) has changed to become AST2002H. Both second year courses will spread out of the entire academic year.

The undergraduate major in Astrophysics provides an excellent qualification for postgraduate studies in Astrophysics and related disciplines. For more information about the postgraduate studies in Astrophysics at UCT we refer to the additional information on our web site (see the tabs on the left).

Astronomy and Astrophysics undergraduate courses offered by the Department of Astronomy

AST1000F Introduction to Astronomy

AST2002H Astrophysics

AST2003H Astronomical Techniques

AST3002F Stellar Astrophysics

AST3003S Galactic and Extragalactic Astrophysics

Details of the Astrophysics major

The core components of the undergraduate major in Astrophysics are indicated below.

First year level:
Compulsory: PHY1004W, MAM1000W
Strongly recommended: AST1000F, MAM1043H, MAM1044H

Second year level:
Compulsory: AST2002H, AST2003H, PHY2014F, PHY2015S, MAM2000W
Alternative for MAM2000W: MAM2004H (Advance Calculus + Linear Algebra modules) and MAM2047H (Ordinary Differential Equations + Boundary-Value Problems modules).

Third year level:
Compulsory: AST3002F, AST3003S
Strongly recommended: PHY3021F

The compulsory courses listed above are the back-bone of the Astrophysics major. With the addition of selected courses in either physics, applied mathematics or engineering you can tailor your astrophysics major towards three different streams.

Steam 1. Astrophysics and Physics
With the addition of PHY3021F and PHY3022S, you will automatically qualify for a major in astrophysics and physics. See also page 13/14 of the science faculty student handbook (2010).

Stream 2. Astrophysics and Applied Mathematics
With the addition of MAM1043H, MAM1044H, MAM2046W and MAM3040W you will qualify for a major in astrophysics and applied mathematics. See also page 13 of the science faculty student handbook (2010).

Stream 3. Astro-technology
With the addition of selected courses in the engineering faculty (EEE2035F, EEE2039W, EEE3064W and EEE3086F) and taking MAM2080W instead of MAM2000W, it is possible to get a major in astrophysics with a strong engineering component. Please speak to the student advisor in Physics (Dr. Spencer Wheaton) or Dr. Kurt van der Heyden for more details about this option.

For more information about the undergraduate major in Astrophysics, please contact Senior Lecturer Dr. Kurt van der Heyden (Room 537; Phone: 021 650 4042; heyden[at] in the Astronomy Department, or contact the Physics/Astrophysics student advisor Dr. Spencer Wheaton (spencer.wheaton[at]

Undergraduate applications
To apply to study Astronomy/Astrophysics at undergraduate level, candidates must apply directly to UCT.
For information on how to do this, please see:

For further information on the entrance requirements to be accepted into the UCT Faculty of Science (to study Astronomy/Astrophysics), please see: and download the up-to-date undergraduate brochure for details of admission criteria for a BSc majoring in Astrophysics.

The Department of Astronomy cannot answer queries about entrance requirements as these are determined at the Faculty level.

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