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MSc Physics: Space Science & Technology

Course content

"One of the limiting factors in terms of our growth …. is the ability to recruit qualified, highly skilled, personnel… It is an exciting development to have a Masters in Physics, with specialisation in Space Science and Technology starting this year at University College Dublin." - Derek Harris, Business Development Manager at Moog Dublin.

Why is this course for me?
The Masters in Physics by Negotiated Learning (PNL) at UCD offers graduates the opportunity to tailor the MSc curriculum to a targeted area of expertise in physics. Graduates wishing to apply their degree expertise in the space sector should choose the PNL specialisation Space Science & Technology. Space is a growth industry, driven by the increasing demands of space exploration, Earth observation, and commercial services such as telecommunications and satellite navigation. The sector is highly international, multi-disciplinary, and benefiting from significant investment worldwide. This MSc specialisation prepares students who wish to pursue a career in this exciting sector. The programme incorporates physics and space science, provides exposure to a variety of applications, and facilitates professional development.

What will I study?

You will gain exposure to the following topics:

Core modules:
■ The Space Environment
■ Applications of Space Science
■ Satellite Subsystems Laboratory
■ Space Sector Seminars
■ Professional Development

Specific optional modules:
Optional modules are available to allow you to customise the MSc according to your academic background and career objectives. You may choose from within the following areas:
■ Physics, Astrophysics & Planetary Science
■ Mechanical & Materials Engineering
■ Project Management & Technical Communication
■ Programming & Mathematics
■ Foreign Language

About 50% of the time is devoted to classroom or laboratory activities. The student spends the remaining time carrying out a practicum in the form of an academic research project or an industry placement. An appropriate host, supervisor and project is chosen by agreement between the parties involved.

Programme outcomes
On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:
■ demonstrate knowledge and understanding of topics underpinning space science and technology
■ rely on technical skills in relevant areas of space research
■ display a broad awareness of all aspects of the highly cross-disciplinary space science sector
■ appreciate innovation, industry links, product development, intellectual property, and market issues of relevance when developing novel technology, in particular for the space sector
■ confidently engage in technical research projects within a space context, independently or as part of a multi-disciplinary team, and effectively communicate research findings to non-specialists
■ learn from experiences gained in different contexts and apply knowledge across discipline boundaries to solve problems
■ appreciate the importance of professional development and global networking, and be familiar with the resources available to keep up to date with new developments in the field.

What are the career opportunities?
Career opportunities, both in Ireland and internationally, include the following areas:
■ Launchers
■ Earth Observation
■ Satellite Navigation
■ Space Transportation
■ Satellite Communications
■ Space Science Experiments
■ Life and Physical Sciences
■ General Support Technology

Prospective Employers
Prospective employers include agencies, such as ESA and NASA, as well as Irish and international industry.

Ireland’s Space Industry Sample Listing

Engineering Services
Engineering Solutions International
Numa Engineering


Propulsion Subsystems/Structural Components

Hi-Rel Electronic Components
Betatherm Ireland Ltd (Measurement Specialties)

Remote Sensing
Techworks Marine

Microwave Components
Farran Technology

Avionics/Data Systems

Eblana Photonics

Cortona 3D
Daysha Consulting
Sogeti Ireland

Airtel ATN

Staff Profile and Testimonial

Staff - Prof Lorraine Hanlon

“Space offers a global perspective - of our planet and the cosmos. Satellites looking back at the Earth can monitor the effects of climate change on the polar ice caps, or map the Earth’s gravity field to find new continents. Meanwhile, satellites looking outwards into space allow us to assess the threat to Earth from near-Earth asteroids, to explore our solar system for signs of life and to probe the most violent explosions in the universe. This MSc aims to prepare graduates for a career in the growing space sector.”

Lorraine Hanlon is Associate Professor of Astronomy in UCD School of Physics, and has worked at the European Space and Technology Research Centre in the Netherlands.

Graduate - Ronan Wall, PhD (BSc, UCD 1996)

“My education at UCD School of Physics provided a crucial foundation in the key physical principles of space, which have aided in may understanding and implementation of a diverse range of projects from complex multi-spacecraft mission studies to rocket engine development. Given the calibre of staff and research output at the School, I have no hesitation in recommending this course. I only wish it had been available when I graduated!”

Ronan Wall is currently Programme Manager at MOOG-ISP (Dublin), a major player in the aviation and aerospace industry.

For further information on the content of the MSc in Physics (Negotiated Learning) specialising in Space Science & Technology, please contact Dr.Deirdre Coffey at [email protected]

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