Training the next generation of instrument builders


Leiden Observatory offers a challenging Master’s specialisation focusing on the interplay between astronomical research and the state-of-the-art instruments that are required to carry it out. The two-year programme is built on world-class astrophysics research as well as high-tech industry expertise, and consists of a coherent set of relevant courses and two research projects, in which students participate and gather hands-on experience.

The overall goal is to better understand the physical principles and performances of astronomical instruments, and to contribute to the development of new ideas and concepts for future instruments and technologies. Moreover, courses go beyond pure astronomy and space applications to enable students to use their knowledge and skills in neighbouring areas of science and technology – including instrumentation for environmental and medical applications. The programme ensures that graduating students have experience in areas relevant for high-tech industry in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

After graduation, students will have obtained in-depth knowledge of current state-of-the-art approaches to developing high-tech instruments. Furthermore, they will be prepared to work with engineers on instrument-development and being able to bridge the gap between engineering and science.


‘Students are not only expected to replicate knowledge, but also to get to the point that they create new knowledge.
Keller-330x390Students need to be practically-oriented, experimental and creative thinkers. It is important that students like working in the lab and try out new concepts. If you are trying to develop an instrument, you must not mind if something does not work, because it happens quite often that ideas do not work. You need to be adventurous, being unafraid of the unknown. You also need to use your imagination, you need to have ways to look at things in a very different way.’

– Christoph Keller
Professor in Experimental Physics
Leiden Observatory




MSc Specialisation at Leiden University, the Netherlands