- 2017


Minor / Major / Extended major

Commencement year

This area of study entry applies to students commencing this course in 2017 and should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook.

Any units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the component of any bachelors double degrees.

Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the Handbook are not available for study in the current year.

Managing faculty

Faculty of Science


Dr Jasmina Lazendic-GallowayDr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway (http://staffsearch.monash.edu.au/?name=Jasmina%20Lazendic-Galloway) (Level one) Dr Duncan GallowayDr Duncan Galloway (http://staffsearch.monash.edu.au/?name=Duncan%20Galloway) (Level two) Dr Michael BrownDr Michael Brown (http://staffsearch.monash.edu.au/?name=Michael%20Brown) (Level three) Professor Michael MorganProfessor Michael Morgan (http://staffsearch.monash.edu.au/?name=Michael%20Morgan) (Honours)



Astrophysics is the science that endeavours to understand the universe and its contents through observations and the applications of physical laws. The phenomena we seek to explain include the distribution of matter on the largest scales, and the nature and behaviour of celestial objects; these objects include galaxies and quasars, stars and planets, comets, pulsars and black holes. Astrophysics links the smallest and largest objects in the universe, from cosmic rays to super clusters of galaxies. The subject deals with big questions, such as the ultimate fate of the universeand the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. We address these questions by using theory, observations made with the largest telescopes and calculations done on the world's largest supercomputers. Astronomical observations are made using a multitude of different telescopes located around the globe and in space. These telescopes gather data from across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

Monash is home to world-leading experts in observational and theoretical astrophysics, whose expertise contributes directly to the content of the undergraduate astrophysics program. The program will introduce you to all of the skills and tools required in modern astronomy and astrophysics, from observing with sophisticated telescopes to the development of numerical codes for supercomputers. We are also developing new ways of teaching physics and astronomy. At first year this centres on the Physics and Astronomy Collaborative-learning Environment (PACE). First year classes are held in the PACE Studios which are custom-designed to encourage independent learning, and to promote the problem solving, effective communication and teamwork highly valued by employers. We are forging a community of students who are proactive learners, able to apply their knowledge and skills in creative ways.

Modern astrophysics draws heavily on physics, mathematics, computation and numerical analysis, and the Monash astrophysics program provides excellent training in both contemporary science and cutting-edge problem-solving. So our graduates find work in areas that require analytical people with highly developed problem-solving skills; this includes government, finance, business, private industry, science journalism and teaching, as well as research laboratories, universities and planetariums. For those who wish to pursue studies beyond their undergraduate degree, our postgraduate program can equip those who intend to pursue a professional career in astronomy or astrophysics.


Astrophysics is listed in S2000 Bachelor of Science, S3001 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges (Honours) and S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours) at Clayton as a major, extended major or minor.


In addition to achieving the broad outcomes of their course, students successfully completing this major and extended major will be able to:

  • explain how knowledge in astrophysics is constructed as part of continually evolving conceptual frameworks developed from observation, mathematical analysis and numerical modelling, and built around a core of unifying fundamental concepts
  • appreciate astrophysics as a creative, social endeavour which provides intellectual pleasure and contributes to society and its development through applications to past, current and future technologies
  • demonstrate the effective use of specialised astronomical equipment, including telescopes and their instrumentation
  • demonstrate experimental, numerical, computational, analytical, and problem solving skills required to gain employment in a wide variety of industries or to undertake further learning in astronomy and astrophysics related disciplines.


Supporting studies

Except for some units at level 1, most astrophysics and physics units have mathematics prerequisites such as: MTH1020 (Analysis of change), MTH1030 (Techniques for modelling), MTH2010 (Multivariable calculus) and MTH2032 (Differential equations with modelling).

Note 1: Students in the double degree E3007 Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science complete ENG1090 and/or ENG1005 instead of MTH1020 and/or MTH1030 and ENG2005 and MTH2040 instead of MTH2010 and MTH2032.

Minor requirements (24 points)

12 points at level 1 and 12 points at level 2.

Students complete:

  1. Two level 1 units (12 points) from the following:
    • ASP1010 Earth to cosmos - introductory astronomy or ASP1022 Life in the universe - astrobiology
    • PHS1011 Classical physics and relativity, or PHS1080 Foundation physics, or PHS1031 Physics for the living world
    • PHS1022 Fields and quantum physics

    Note 2: ASP1010 and ASP1022 are descriptive and introductory and accessible to students without any specific background in science or mathematics and are particularly suitable as standalone electives.

    Note 3: Students who have passed physics at year 12 (or equivalent) should take PHS1011; it extends students' existing knowledge and skills in physics. Students without year 12 physics should take PHS1080. Students with a specific interest in the relation of physics to biological systems can choose PHS1031.

    Note 4: Students intending to do an extended major or complete second or third year PHS units need to take PHS1022 at level 1.

  2. The following two level 2 units (12 points):

Major requirements (48 points)

12 points at level 1 and at least 18 points at level 3.

Students complete:

  1. The requirements for a minor in astrophysics including two units of level 1 physics (24 points)
  2. Three level 3 units (18 points) chosen from:
    • ASP3012 Stars and galaxies
    • ASP3051 Relativity and cosmology
    • ASP3162 Computational astrophysics and the extreme universe
    • ASP3231 Observational astronomy
  3. One additional unit (6 points) chosen from the list in (b.) above or from:
    • PHS2350 Physics and astronomy introductory research project 1 or PHS2360 Physics and astronomy introductory research project 2*
    • PHS3350 Physics and astronomy research project 1 or PHS3360 Physics and astronomy research project 2*

    * Enrolment in these units requires approval by the School for Physics and Astronomy level 2 or 3 coordinator.

Extended major requirements (72 points)

No more than 18 points at level 1 and at least 24 points at level 3.

Students complete:

  1. The requirements for a major in astrophysics (48 points), ensuring that PHS1022 is one of the units taken at level 1
  2. Four additional units (24 points) from the list (b) and (c) under the major or from the following, which includes all units from list (b), and no more than one additional unit from list (a) under the minor:
    • PHS2061 Quantum and thermal physics*
    • PHS2081 Atomic, nuclear and condensed matter physics*
    • PHS2062 Electromagnetism and optics*
    • PHS3031 Foundations of contemporary physics
    • PHS3042 Fundamentals of condensed matter physics
    • PHS3051 Photon physics
    • PHS3062 Fundamental particle physics
    • PHS3131 Theoretical physics
    • PHS3142 Theoretical physics II
    • a level three mathematics unit approved by the School of Physics and Astronomy level 3 coordinator

    * Note that PHS1022 is a prerequisite for these units and needs to be one of the units taken at level 1.

Requirements for progressing to honours

Successful completion of 24 points of relevant level 3 astrophysics or physics units.

Refer to S3701 Bachelor of Science (Honours) for full details.

Relevant courses


Single degrees

Successful completion of this area of study can be counted towards meeting the requirements for the following single degrees:*

  • S2000 Bachelor of Science
  • S3001 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges (Honours)
  • S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours)

Students in other single bachelor's degrees may be eligible to complete the minor or major by using 24 or 48 points of their free electives, however need to be aware that additional maths supporting units may also be required.

Double degrees

Successful completion of this area of study can be counted towards meeting the requirements for the Bachelor of Science component in the following double degrees:*

  • B2023 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • B2016 Bachelor of Commerce Specialist and Bachelor of Science
  • D3005 Bachelor of Education (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • E3007 Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • C2003 Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Science
  • L3007 Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • S2006 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts
  • S2007 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Biomedical Science
  • S2004 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • S2003 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Global Studies
  • S2005 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Music

* Students cannot complete a minor, major or extended major in the same area of study.