New courses will be postgrads' guide to the Universe

11 July 2002
UCT will push the boundaries of space next year when it introduces two new postgraduate degree programmes in Astronomy and Space Science

The new Honours and Master's courses, to be hosted at UCT, begin in February and continue South Africa's history of excellence in astronomy, says UCT's Dr Peter Dunsby, course co-ordinator.

"Researchers from 13 institutions, including the Universities of Free State, Natal, Zululand and Rhodes as well as the South African Astronomical Observatory, Hartebeespoort Radio Observatory, the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory and iThembaLab, have joined forces to create a co-operative, combined graduate programme where students from around the world can study under the guidance of some of South Africa's leading scientists."

Lectures on the courses will cover most areas of modern astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology.

"In addition to lecture courses, students will be expected to take a substantial practical component involving several field trips to some of southern Africa's space science research facilities," Dunsby added.

These sites include the South African Astronomical Observatory site at Sutherland building site of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, the radio telescope facility at Hartebeeshoek, and the High Energy Stereoscopic System.

"Graduates from this programme will be equipped for research at the cutting edge of astrophysics and will also acquire the broad science skills needed in any modern technological society," said Dunsby.

The Honours course has theory and practical components. The theory includes electrodynamics quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular spectroscopy, radiative processes, general relativity, astrophysical fluid dynamics, computational physics, statistical astrophysics, general astrophysics, an introduction to cosmology and galaxies. The practical component covers techniques in optical and infrared astronomy, radio astronomy, high energy astrophysics and heliospheric physics.

The Master's programme has a taught component in the first semester followed by a thesis component.

"Students will do research with scientists from the NASSP consortium. At their home institution or at one of the national research facilities," Dunsby added.

"We aim to provide highly skilled people who will be in demand in fields ranging from aerospace to financial services and telecommunications.

"Other graduates will join the growing community of African researchers who will use the Continent's 'giant eyes' to explore the Universe, our environment on the grandest possible scale."

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.