Career Path

Postgraduate Master's Courses

Postgraduate master's courses are usually one or two years long. There are two main types of masters courses, taught or research.

A postgraduate master's degree is different from an undergraduate or combined master's course in that it is completed separately after you have graduated. They often allow you to specialise further in your chosen field, or to provide a new path into a different career.

If you're worried about being an older student, don't be - MSc's tend to be a popular option after a few years of work to open doors for the field you want to go into. 

Research or Taught?

A research master's course is mainly focused on a research project. While you will for the most part work independently on a project, you will also attend some modules. These are a natural lead into a PhD

A taught master's course will also usually require a project, but features a larger component of modules and is more similar to how undergraduate degrees are structured.

You can also opt to study a taught postgraduate diploma (PGDip) or certificate (PGCert) as a standalone option, or before you progress onto a master’s degree. They are both master’s-level qualifications but take less time to complete, and they don’t involve a research project/dissertation. The PGCert is typically equivalent to one semester of a full-time master’s degree, whereas a PGDip is equivalent to two.

There are also options to do postgraduate study via distance learning.


For postgraduate master's courses, there are a number of loans, grants and scholarships available. There is the option of taking out a Career Development Loan (different to Student Finance as you have to repay it whether you are earning or not). From 2016, the Government have introduced the postgraduate loan, which enables you to borrow up to £10,000 for course fees and living expenses. Unlike the Career Development Loans, you would pay this back along with any other students loans you have. Students can also apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA); this funding is non-repayable. 

Similar funding options are available for students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

If you do a course that includes study abroad you can also apply for an Erasmus grant.


Astronomy and Astrophysics

MSc in Astrophysics (UCL)

MSc by Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics (University of Manchester)

MSc in Particles, Strings and Cosmology (University of Durham)

The Open University offers a series of MPhil in Astronomy, (which cover astrochemistry, extragalactic astronomy, exoplanets and planetary physics, interplanetary dust, stellar astrophysics and astronomy education)

Planetary Science

MSc in Planetary Sciences (UCL)

MSc in Space Science & Engineering: Space Science (UCL)

MSc by Research in Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry (University of Manchester)

The Open University offers a series of MPhil in Planetary and Space Sciences, (which cover astrobiology and habitats for life, planetary surfaces and atmospheres, planetary formation and evolution, comets and asteroids and solar system formation)

Space Exploration/Aerospace/Engineering

MSc in Space Science and Technology (The Open University)

MPhil in Aerospace Engineering (University of Manchester)

MSc in Space Engineering (University of Surrey)

MSc in Space Exploration Systems (University of Leicester) (with the option to study abroad, SEEDS)

MSc in Space Systems Engineering (University of Southampton)

Cranfield University offers a huge number of MSc degrees in aerospace (here is the direct link to the course finder page)

MSc in Space Science & Engineering: Space Technology (UCL)

MSc in Space Risks and Disaster Reduction (UCL)

PG Cert in Space Systems Engineering (UCL)

Satellite Applications

MSc Satellite Data Science (University of Leicester)


International Space University

Space Masters EU


Giulia Magnarini

Giulia is a geologist and current studies Planetary Science with Astronomy at Birkbeck College (University of London).

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