Astronomy Courses & Education for first-timers.University Certificates
Single-module certificates for broader study and skills.Advanced Study
Routes to a full BSc(Hons) Degree in Astronomy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your commonest questions are answered here. Do not hesitate to contact us if you do not find the answer you need.
The start date for most courses is the Monday closest to 15th October. On this day, if you are fully enrolled, you will receive an induction email to confirm that you have been given access to the elearn website with the learning materials. Full details of the application process and induction schedule are available under the 'Current Students' tab.
Normally courses begin mid-October and run to the end of May. We do not offer multiple start dates in the year. Where a module is running for the first time, we routinely operate on a longer schedule up to the end of July. We provide a detailed schedule for each module.
Our fees are set on a per-module basis, and vary slightly from year to year. You should check our Module Fees page for up to date information. The fee varies depending on where you live, not on your nationality.
The entry point courses (such as Introduction to Astronomy)require Maths at GCSE grade C or equivalent qualification. The modules assume general 'high-school maths' such as ability to use a scientific notiation and powers, perform calculations with a scientific calculator, rearrange simple equations, logarithms and simple trigonometry (sines, cosines and tangents). If you have not studied for some time, you may like to refresh your knowledge by looking at the Maths Pack. If you do not have a formal Maths qualification you should contact the Programme Administrator and ask to talk to the Course Leader.
Our Introduction to Astronomy module is a Level 1 undergraduate course. The syllabus is wider than the GCSE, and while many of the subjects will be familiar, you will study them in much greater depth. In addition the questions we ask and the tasks we set are much more demanding than GCSE level. Remember that the module is used to introduce our Astrophysics students to astronomy in their first year, and they begin with A Level Physics.
The modules do not require a telescope. However we run an optional weekend course at our Alston Observatory, subject to demand. This includes the opportunity to use our telescopes, weather allowing.
We offer an optional weekend course at Alston Observatory to students on the Introduction to Astronomy and Introduction to Cosmology courses. This includes opportunities to talk to the staff formally about the course materials, and to informally discuss astronomy in general with our staff and other students. In addition we attend science fairs, such as Astrofest in Kensington, and are delighted to see our current students.
We normally recommend that students start with one or possibly two modules. Experience has shown that this is what people with a normal level of work and domestic commitments can manage comfortably. As you demonstrate your ability to complete modules successfully, you may like to increase your workload, in consultation with the Course Team. The Courses are defined as Part-time Courses, setting an absolute limit of 4 modules per year.
We have to vary the availability of our modules according to staff commitments and in order to maintain viable student cohorts. Our Module Availability page indicates the modules available this year and gives an indication of future plans. All modules are subject to adequate recruitment, but we have always recruited enough students to run our Entry Point courses as planned.
This module teaches the Maths and Physics necessary for higher level study and is a core component of the DipHE and BSc in Astronomy. It should be taken by anyone on these awards who does not have A level/University level Physics and Maths. It is not necessary to take this module before starting on level 2 modules, but must be completed before doing any level 3 modules. If you only intend to take the CertHE you can include Energy Matter and the Universe if you want, but it is not compulsory.
We have a process of Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) that allows you to incorporate prior study (typically modules from other Universities) into our awards. If you have studied with our www.astronomy.ac.uk partners at the Astrophysics Research Institute or Jodrell Bank Observatory, their modules can be incorporated into the CertHE, DipHE or degree as a matter of course. Study at other institutes will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, as we need to fit it into the programme specification and consider your overall profile. For your guidance, we have accepted prior study from the Open University at all levels, and Level 1 adult education courses from places such as University College London. You can only apply for APL once you are enrolled on an appropriate course, and typically we accept APL requests in November to December each year.
You should start by studying the core module AA1051 Introduction to Astronomy. This will enable you to check that the level and style of study are suitable for you before making a long-term commitment. When you have completed 2 individual Certificates, you can enrol on the 6-module award the Certificate of Higher Education. When that is complete you can enrol either for the DipHE or for the BSc. All modules that you study will be carried forward to your new award. This process allows you maximum flexibility before making a long-term commitment to enrol on the BSc.
The BSc consists of a total of 18 modules. The minimum allowed time is 5 years, but we expect most students to take considerable longer than this. If a students averages 3 modules a year, they will complete the BSc within 6 years. However student will need to check the module availabity carefully to plan their study.
The University uses two sets of codes numbers to keep track of the programmes of study and the modules they are made up of. The codes beginning VS indicate a programme of study leading to the award of some form of certificate (from the single-module University Certificate to the full 18-module bachelors honours degree). The AA codes are assigned to individual modules, and represent the different choices of subjects that you can study. Of course for University Certificates there is only one module, and the programme title associated with a given VS code will often be very similar to the title of the module it incorporates.
There is no body accrediting these sorts of courses in Astronomy. However, all our modules are endorsed by the Royal Astronomical Society, the United Kingdom's Learned Society for this subject. The BSc is also recognised by the UK's Institute of Physics.