Studying Astronomy at UKZN

Studying Astrophysics and Cosmology

Students interested in studying astrophysics and cosmology at UKZN should register for a BSc degree in the Mathematical Sciences stream. The relevant subjects within the M-stream are Physics, Astronomy, and Applied Mathematics, with electives in cognate subjects such as computer science, statistics or chemistry. The Astronomy Major was introduced in 2015, and has a common curriculum in 1st year with the Physics and Applied Mathematics majors. Astrophysics courses are offered in the 2nd and 3rd years of the degree. For full details on all of UKZN’s courses, please see the official handbook.

BSc graduates qualify to study a BSc Honours degree, which can be done in either Physics or Applied mathematics, with modules chosen from both disciplines. Since 2015, UKZN also offers the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) at Honours and Masters levels. The deadline for NASSP applications is usually 31 August each year.

Undergraduate students studying astrophysics and affiliated with ACRU qualify to participate in the Undergraduate Internship Programme (UIP), which provides individual tutoring and mentoring to astrophysics undergraduates. Various research projects are also offered through this programme.

Undergraduate Internship Programme

ACRU runs an undergraduate internship programme (UIP) to enhance the coursework, research, and outreach experience for ACRU undergraduate students. The programme involves students studying astrophysics and cosmology at the undergraduate level (BSc and BSc Hons), including students in the SKA-NRF-UKZN bursary programme. The UIP comprises a number of activities to strengthen the academic programme for ACRU undergraduates, and involves close interaction with academic staff, postdoctoral research fellows, and postgraduate students. These activities include:

  • Individual tutoring and exam revision meetings with ACRU postgraduate students
  • Mentorship meetings with ACRU staff members
  • Participation in astronomy outreach activities
  • Participation in research projects by ACRU postdoctoral fellows and staff members

General orientation and administrative assistance is also provided for UIP students.

Funding your studies

The following is a list of sources of funding that can be used to finance your studies:

  • Square Kilometre Array undergraduate bursary programme: bursaries are available through an application process directly from the National Research Foundation (NRF) or via a block grant to a host university. UKZN is currently a host university for the SKA undergraduate bursary programme, so interested students can apply directly to the NRF and to ACRU.
  • ACRU undergraduate bursaries: in addition to the SKA block-grant bursaries, we offer a limited number of bursaries for undergraduate study in astrophysics and cosmology.
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal scholarships and bursary programme: please see UKZN student support for more information.
  • BSc Honours NRF bursaries: these bursaries are offered through various programmes such as the Square Kilometre Array, Scarce Skills, Innovation and Free-Standing programmes. More information is available on the NRF website.
  • NASSP Honours bursaries: these are offered through the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme. For details on the UKZN application process, please see here.

If you are interested in studying astrophysics or cosmology or learning more about available funding opportunities, please contact Strini Rajgopaul () for more information.