2023-2024 / Master

Space sciences (120 ECTS)

120 credits

Programme content

Understanding the origin and evolution of the Earth and the Universe. Participating in the development of highly specialised space missions.

A unique programme in French-speaking Belgium!

The University of Liège's Institute of Astrophysics and Geophysics is the oldest research centre in astrophysics in French-speaking Belgium. Its international renown is well established. Its researchers develop innovative research programmes and participate in numerous national and international scientific collaborative ventures. Some of them also play active roles within bodies such as the International Astronomical Union, the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). It is thus naturally at Liège that this unique programme in this field is offered.

This Master's programme is principally aimed at all those who wish to play an active part in the space research and applications that make it possible to further our understanding of the stars, the Earth, the planets in our solar system and those gravitating around other stars, the study of galaxies, quasars and the black holes at their centre, and the origin, structure and evolution of the Universe.

It is also aimed at all those who are fascinated by observing the skies and/or who wish to understand the threats that weigh on our atmospheric and marine environments and the means of combating them.


  • The Advanced Master's: this stream is principally aimed at students who wish to pursue a career in research. The programme includes numerous diversified courses as well as a Final Dissertation that helps effectively prepare students for a research career.
  • The Specialised Master's: this programme allows for the development of skills and know-how with high added value in the non-academic sector, in particular in businesses developing space applications or gathering space-related data, or within space agencies.


Astrophysics covers numerous fields and involves study of the solar system, observation of stars and the study of their internal structure and stability, as well as observation of galaxies and quasars, cosmology.

Geophysics, a related discipline, is more specifically interested in the planet on which we live. It is also the subject of substantial research work within the Faculty of Science, not only at the Institute for Astrophysics and Geophysics, where the interiors and atmospheres of Earth and the planets are studied, but also within the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Physical Oceanography and Geology departments.

Many Liège researchers are also focused on space research, which opens shared fields with astrophysics and planetology. The Liège Space Centre (CSL) is an active research centre that is regularly commissioned to do work for European space research institutions. Researchers at the Institute for Astrophysics and Geophysics work with colleagues from the European Space Agency and NASA. Several Liège experiments are currently observing the skies and Earth on board scientific satellites. Our national institutes and many international centres regularly recruit specialists in these disciplines. Moreover, certain national and international research bodies offer doctoral fellowships that lead to research careers.

The programme in Space Sciences is an excellent preparation for such activities.


An extensive and varied choice of courses taught mainly in English!

Space Sciences cover a wide range of fields. The programme highlights this diversity and is structured along 6 streams in order to enable students to acquire advanced skills in all of these areas of study.

These taught courses are complemented by practical training on:

  • observations by telescope (in Liège or abroad),
  • processing scientific data using specific software packages,
  • laboratory work (for example, in optics),
  • high added value professional internships.

81% of the courses are taught in English (that is, 189 of the 232 credits offered), including both compulsory courses and electives. The Final Dissertation may also be written in English. As regards your course choices, you will thus have the opportunity to take the entire programme in English.

The teaching is divided up as follows:

  • Common core: 63 credits through electives, including at least 6 courses to be chosen from each of the following streams: interdisciplinary courses, cosmology and astroparticles, astrophysics, planetary science and planetary systems, oceanography and climate, instrumentation and methods in space sciences;
  • Specialism: 30 credits of courses. For the advanced Master's, there are electives (including some that may be taken from other Master's programmes) to supplement the scientific training that will be of particular use in research. For the specialised Master's, there are 20 credits of compulsory courses and 10 credits of electives, fostering skills that are highly valuable in the non-academic sector.
  • Dissertation: A personal project for 27 credits. For the advanced Master's, this is a research-oriented project. For the specialised Master's, it involves an internship that can be completed at the Liège Space Centre, a company or a space agency like the ESA.

This approach allows students to develop their scientific culture within various fields, avoiding over-specialisation. Thus, they explore the content first via courses of a more introductory nature, before selecting those areas in which they wish to specialise via electives. This formula ensures that students can put together a highly personalised programme, depending on their preferences.

The Dissertation presents students with their first opportunity for serious experience in research, whether basic or applied. Each year, a wide range of topics are offered in all branches of space sciences.

Some of these topics enable students to work with real data gathered by means of observation satellites and interplanetary probes (Hubble Space Telescope, XMM-Newton, Mars Express, etc.) or ground-based observatories (VLT, Trappist, etc.). Other topics enable students to contribute to the development of instruments for observation, with a view t subsequent applications to astrophysics and planetary science. The final internship in the specialised Master's is most often done in the private sector or at space agencies.


Globally recognised experts

The researchers at ULiège develop innovative research programmes and participate in numerous national and international scientific collaborative ventures. In addition to the classes, 40 seminars (mostly taught in English) are offered to complete your education in space sciences.

Presented by international experts, these seminars address topical scientific issues. The main objective is to enrich students' insight and knowledge of new issues in this sector. Moreover, they allow students to meet leading experts in the world of space research.


The possibilities for Erasmus travel are numerous (Università degli Studi di Padova in Padua (Italy), University of Geneva (Switzerland), University of Oulu (Finland), University of Antalya (Turkey), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (France), the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), Complutense University of Madrid (Spain)). Students can also complete an internship in Belgium or abroad (Europe, Chile, etc.).

For more information, please visit: www.astro.ulg.ac.be.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, graduates are able put their knowledge and skills and their understanding of astrophysics, geophysics, climatology and meteorology to use in order to tackle complex scientific issues, design and carry out new experiments, and communicating the results of their work to both more and less specialised audiences. In particular, they will have acquired the following skills:

  • in-depth understanding of the physical processes taking place on Earth, in its atmosphere, its climate and the oceans
  • in-depth understanding of the solar system and the interactions between the sun and the planets
  • in-depth understanding of stellar physics and the physical processes that govern the galaxies and the universe as a whole
  • knowledge of the space sector and the issues specific to it
  • an analytical mind capable of taking a rigorous scientific approach and mathematically modelling a wide variety of complex problems
  • the ability to work autonomously or in a team
  • extensive experience in using a wide range of IT tools
  • the ability to synthesise information, making it possible to communicate the results of a project in a way that is understandable to both more and less specialised audiences.

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