What is Astrophysics?
The Physics and Astrophysics course studies the Universe, how it has arisen, and the ways in which it functions. Using the laws of physics derived from the world around us we apply these on cosmic scales and times to study topics such as the formation of planetary systems, how stars are powered and evolve, the structure and motion of galaxies, as well as everything in between.
Physics and Astrophysics: The course for you?
Physics and Astrophysics students study the fundamentals of classical and quantum physics, the physics of motion, energy and of light, applying to both individual particles and ensembles of particles, on scales from the macroscopic and the microscopic encompassing atomic, nuclear and fundamental particle physics, but extending to stellar, galactic and cosmic scales. The emphasis in the latter years turns more towards Astrophysics, observational data analysis and the understanding of what happens based on our observations of the universe. The course puts an emphasis on data analysis to understand the world, skills which underpin many modern careers and not simply that of a research astrophysicist.
Physics and Astrophysics at Trinity
Physics and Astrophysics is taught within the School of Physics but has strong astrophysical teaching and research links beyond Trinity. All of our lecturers run research groups with major strengths in light pollution studies, radio astronomy, exoplanets, and stellar astrophysics among others. Every student is encouraged to apply physics to the Universe at large and computational skills are developed. Research training culminates in the individual Capstone research project carried out in the final year on a topic in either astrophysics or physics. Typically, students become very skilled in analysis of observations, in computer simulations and in the handling and analysing of large datasets.
Graduate Skills and Career Opportunities
Your general scientific training and specialised knowledge can lead to employment in a wide variety of careers. As a graduate, you are qualified to work in any Physics career and recent graduates have gone into medical physics or education careers. Further training in astrophysics can lead to a research career at an institute or university, or you can use your skills to find employment in high-tech industries, financial services, information technology, or as a data scientist.
Your degree and what you’ll study
You will study the Physics of quantum systems, electromagnetism and of collective behaviours underpinning condensed matter and the electronic and physical structure of materials as well as the Astrophysics of galaxies and stars and observational astrophysical and spectroscopic analysis techniques with specialised laboratories in astrophysical data analysis. Options include computational physics, experimental techniques and semiconductor physics and devices. The experimental programme of advanced laboratory experiments in the JS year also has a major emphasis on developing your science communication skills. You will also broaden your studies by taking Trinity Elective modules in non-science subjects.
In the final year you study advanced modules in planetary science, space science and cosmology alongside advanced quantum mechanics, nuclear and particle physics, advanced electromagnetism, and problem solving. Further options include computational physics, magnetism, photonics and energy science. You will undertake an individual Capstone research project in an astrophysics or a physics topic that is guided Trinity Professors and working within their research groups or with associated collaborating institutes or universities. Recent research projects have looked at topics ranging from observations with I-LOFAR antennas, through to study of solar eruptions, exoplanet atmospheres, evolution of stars in the early Universe and supernova explosions.
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Study Abroad and internship opportunities
Many of our students undertake research internships in Trinity or other universities during the summer vacation. Our students have won scholarships to work in research laboratories between 3rd and 4th year from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Armagh Observatory, or the Dutch research agency ASTRON amongst others. Information on the year abroad programme for second- or third-year students, and a list of partner universities, can be found at: https://www.tcd.ie/study/study-abroad/outbound/
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AwardsB.A. (Moderatorship) Honours Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 8)
CAO InformationCAO Points 524 (2022) CAO Code TR063
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Advanced Entry Applications
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What our graduates say
Dr Aoife McCloskey
“I specialised in Physics and Astrophysics for my final degree. My undergraduate experience provided me with a range of invaluable skills and knowledge, such as problem-solving and coding, that have prepared me for pursuing a diverse range of scientific careers. Along with my postgraduate research I also worked as an educator with the Trinity Walton Club, teaching Mathematics to secondary school students. Without my undergraduate degree I would not have had these opportunities.”