Astronomy BSc (Hons)

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.  

Key Information

  • Duration:

    Part-time: Minimum of six years, actual time depends on rate of study

  • Level:


  • Delivery:

    eLearning, Part-time

  • Award Type:

    BSc (Hons)

  • Institution Code:

    CLANC C30

  • UCAS Code:


  • Campus:

    Online Only (Campus code: U)

  • Start Date:


  • The pace of the course is flexible and you can choose how many modules to study each year.
  • There are opportunities for you to use observations from our new £200,000 telescope for your dissertation.
  • This course is recognised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and all graduates automatically meet requirements for Associate Membership of the Institute. You will also be eligible for free IOP digital student membership.

Course Overview

Level 4

Available modules

(Level 4 - not necessarily taken in Year 1)

  • Introduction to Astronomy 1 (compulsory)
  • Introduction to Cosmology 1
  • Introduction to Astrobiology 1
  • Sun, Earth & Climate 1
  • Great Astronomers in History
  • Energy, Matter & the Universe - (compulsory)
  • IT for Astronomy
  • Investigations in Astronomy

1. Available as a University Certificate

Level 5

Available modules

(Level 5 - not necessarily taken in Year 2)

  • The Milky Way
  • Galaxies beyond the Milky Way
  • UV, optical & infrared astronomy
  • Exploring the solar system
  • Solar Astrophysics
  • Solar-Stellar Connection

Level 6

Available modules

(Level 6 - not necessarily taken in Year 3)

  • Cosmology & Relativity
  • Extreme States of Matter
  • Origins
  • Collaborative Investigation
  • Astronomy Dissertation

Modules contributing to smaller awards can be later combined into larger awards of the appropriate Level.

More information about programme specifications and module information is available in the course handbook.

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Fees 2020/21

Full-time: N/A
Part-time: £950 per 20 credits module (UK/EU)
Fees for international students

Entry Requirements

Our typical offer is 128 UCAS Points. We operate a flexible admissions policy and treat everyone as an individual. This means that we will take into consideration your educational achievements and predicted grades (where applicable) together with your application as a whole, including work experience and personal statement.

128 points at A2 or equivalent including a pass in Science/Technology subject at A2 level and GCSE grade C in Maths and English.

Mature route - Via Certificates with 120 credits of prior study.

International Students

View our entry requirements for your country

Scholarships and Bursaries

The University offers a range of scholarships and bursaries to support you through your studies.

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Advice & Guidance

Check your points

Not sure how many points you have? Use our handy calculator and find out.

Points calculator

Further Information

How to apply

Please apply via, following the guidance there for online applications. Applications typically open in February and close in September for courses starting 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 (eg. the Certificate of Higher Education in Astronomy). Those with recent A Levels may apply for direct entry to the degree programme. Accreditation (APL) from other institutions, such as the Open University and University College London will be considered.

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“A degree in astronomy is extremely rewarding. Not only have I had the amazing opportunity to embark on my chosen career as a Physics teacher, but the degree also opened doors to progress on to further postgraduate study within this field.”

Stephen Mercer, BSc (Hons) Astronomy graduate 2016

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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 stars 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 4 options.

At Level 5 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 6 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 suitable Level 6 choices would be qualified to apply for research degree study.

All modules can be combined towards the BSc(Hons) degree. Level 4 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 5 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 6 modules (equivalent to Year 3 of a full-time degree) are only available on the BSc(Hons) degree programme.

Learning Environment and Assessment

A 3 year degree qualification typically comprises 360 credits and each 20 credit (a standard module) equates to 200 hours of study, which comprises of a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical sessions and independent study. Independent study is an important aspect of your degree course. The exact combination of study time will be detailed within your module descriptors, and will depend on your option choices.

The course materials, assessments and other resources are provided online via the University's e-learning facility. 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.


The University has its own observatory, the Alston Observatory, one of the largest teaching observatories in the UK. Distance learning students on the module introduction to Astronomy are invited to attend the Alston Observatory weekend for lectures, workshops and using the observing facilities, weather permitting.


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.

Since the programme started, UCLan has helped many students achieve their degree in Astronomy. Some go on to further study in the area, for example, one of our graduates has gone on to complete a Master’s degree and undertake a PhD in Astronomy in South Africa.

Professional Accreditation

The BSc (Hons) in Astronomy is recognised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and all graduates automatically meet requirements for Associate Membership of the Institute. Students on the course are eligible for free IOP digital student membership. 

Course Enquiries

Telephone us: +44(0)1772 892400
Email us or Book a visit

Stephen Mercer

Stephen Mercer

BSc (Hons) Astronomy, 2016

UCLan Astronomy graduate, Stephen Mercer, has put his scientific knowledge to great use as a Physics teacher in secondary education and to further his research in this area.

Important Information

This course is based in the School of Physical Sciences and Computing

Course Handbook

For detailed information about studying this course at UCLan, please see the course handbook for your year of entry: 2019 Entry | 2020 Entry
For information on possible changes to course information, see our Essential and Important Course Information.

Tuition Fees & Finance

*Tuition Fees are per year unless otherwise stated.
For 2019/20 fees please refer to our fees page.

Further Information for students

You can find regulations and policies relating to student life at The University of Central Lancashire on our Student Contract page.

Entry Requirements

For changes to 2017 UCAS tariff entry requirements please see our Essential and Important Course Information. UCLan requires all undergraduate applicants to have a minimum attainment of five GCSEs at grade C and above, or equivalent, (including Maths and English). In 2017 and beyond we will view the new Grade 4 as being equivalent to a C grade and will therefore require students to achieve GCSE Grade 4 or above. However, if the subject is relevant to our degree programme and requires a higher GCSE grade (e.g. GCSE B grade), and/or includes a Professional body that governs the entry requirements, Grade 5 or above may be required.