Part-time: Minimum of six years, actual time depends on rate of study
Distance without attendance, Part-time
N/A; Short form:
Online Only (Campus code: U)
This is the first and only distance-learning Astronomy degree available from a UK university and allows you to develop your fascination with astronomy and cosmology. You will develop the full range of scientific skills through experimental and observational work undertaken at a distance, library research skills and report writing. There is the opportunity to carry out group work with fellow distance learners. You can build up modules over the years and exit with intermediate awards along the way, allowing you to study for as long and to the depth appropriate to your own interests and aspirations.
Entry Requirements vary according to level – please contact course enquiries, details are below.
View our fantastic facilities, learn more about your course of interest and get an insight into student life.
(Level 1 - not necessarily taken in Year 1)
(Level 2 - not necessarily taken in Year 2)
(Level 3 - not necessarily taken in Year 3)
1. Available as a University Certificate
2. Available as part of a University Advanced Certificate
Modules contributing to smaller awards can be later combined into larger awards of the appropriate Level.
This unique Astronomy degree allows you to develop your fascination with astronomy and cosmology. It is academically challenging and has attracted students from all walks of life. The appeal lies in the accessibility to students with qualifications in a broad range of subjects and the flexibility that the distance learning study mode offers in enabling you to combine university study with other commitments. You can build up modules gradually, and we encourage you to “test the waters” with individual modules in the early stages.
This Astronomy course is only available part time and all modules are purpose designed to support the distance study mode.
Most students start with a single module taken over a year, and build up towards the degree in gradual steps. A number of intermediate awards allow you to study for as long and to the depth appropriate to your own interests and aspirations.
The course incorporates a broad range of fundamental science, including the techniques of observational astronomy, the birth, lives and death of star and the formation and development of the entire Universe – in short a broad range of Astronomy, Cosmology, Astrobiology and Astrophysics. You can study how the stars form, what determines the shape and history of the Galaxy, the prospects for life beyond the Earth, the effects of the Sun on the Earth and the historical development of the science.
Essential skills including the investigation of topics using online resources, the use of computers in analysing and presenting scientific data and key concepts of physics and mathematics are part of the Level 1 options.
At Level 2 you can look in much more detail at how galaxies form and interact, how their contents are governed by their pasts but also dictate their futures, how the Sun is related to the other stars, and how we know all this through modern astronomical techniques.
By Level 3 you will be looking at such fundamental physics concepts as relativity, cosmology, thermodynamics, nucleosynthesis and gravitational radiation, and applying them to astrophysical systems. You will also be independently extending your knowledge of astronomy via the collaborative investigation and individual dissertation. Excellent students who make careful Level 3 choices would be qualified to apply for research degree study.
All modules can be combined towards the BSc(Hons) degree. Level 1 modules (equivalent to Year 1 of a full-time degree) can be combined towards a Certificate of Higher Education, while the addition of the Level 2 modules (equivalent to Year 2 of a full-time degree) can lead to a Diploma of Higher Education. Some modules are prerequisites for other modules, and students must complete study at lower levels before progressing to higher levels. Not all modules run every year. The Level 3 modules (equivalent to Year 3 of a full-time degree) are only available on the BSc(Hons) degree programme.
To read about the course in more depth, please download the programme specification.
We partner with Liverpool John Moores' University and Jodrell Bank Observatory in providing complimentary courses.
All our courses in Physics and Astrophysics are accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and completion leads to Associate Membership of the IOP. Graduate IOP members can use the letters AMInstP after their name and work towards Chartered Physicist (CPhys) status. Our distance-learning courses in Astronomy are recognised by the IOP, and courses in Astrophysics are also recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and students are welcome to join and become Fellows of the RAS.
The course materials, assessments and other resources are provided online via the University's e-learning facility, with bandwidth-hungry material provided on CD-ROM. Tutorial support is available by telephone, by email via a dedicated address or online using the e-learning facility. You can interact with tutors and each other online and assessed work is returned after marking with extensive, supportive feedback. While most of the modules have no attendance requirement, an optional observatory weekend is offered, and staff attend astronomy fairs around the country. Every module has a dedicated tutor, supported by one or more other tutors and the course leader for all the Astronomy programmes.
All assessment is completed from home, with no need to attend exam centres. Course work includes question sheets, essays & reports on practical work. Practical work includes naked eye observing, data analysis & experiments suitable for the home.
Please apply via www.studyastronomy.com , following the guidance there for online applications. Applications typically open in February and close in September for courses staring in October of each year.
Start with one of our Entry Point certificates, entry to the BSc(Hons) degree programme is generally via prior study of one of the smaller awards (e.g. the Certificate of Higher Education in Astronomy). Those with recent A Levels may apply for direct entry to the degree programme. APL from other institutes, such as the Open University and University College London has been accepted in the past.
Graduates of Physics, Astronomy, and Astrophysics are amongst the most employable in the world and are in particularly high demand for technical and business sectors, where analytical and mathematical skills are at a premium. Graduates have found employment in industry, government research institutes, overseas laboratories and observatories, financial institutions, teaching and scientific journalism.
Most of our distance-learning Astronomy students have a passionate interest in the subject, and those completing the degree course can go on to further study, teaching, or work in an observatory. Other possible careers include science communication and public outreach.
This part-time Astronomy BSc is just beginning to produce its first graduates. One of our graduates completed a Masters and is now undertaking a PhD in Astronomy in South Africa.
The University has its own observatory, the Alston Observatory, one of the largest teaching observatories in the UK. It is used weekly by Year 1 students on all degrees, and throughout the Astrophysics degrees, and enables you to make real astronomical observations.
I have never done a distance learning course before and found it most enjoyable if challenging.