Skip to main content
Interested? See


1 Year
September 2022
Distance Learning

Astrobiology is one of the newest and most dynamic scientific disciplines, and this Certificate is your chance to gain an understanding of the ongoing discoveries in the subject.

With explorations ranging from molecular biology to the search for extra-solar planets all having an impact, the multi-disciplinary course takes a novel approach to the subject of Astrobiology. The course is supplemented with online discussion of breaking news.

This introduction to astrobiology course provides you with a basic knowledge of chemistry and astronomy appropriate for the understanding of the biochemistry underpinning life in the Universe.


Delivery: Distance Learning
Study Mode: Part Time
Duration: 1 year
Campus: Preston Campus
Start Date: TBC

Course overview

Outcomes, Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

This module aims to:

  • Provide an introduction to astrobiology, including basic chemistry and biology, suitable for people with little prior knowledge of the subject.
  • Provide an understanding of scientific laws and concepts as applied to the universe and Astrobiology.
  • Provide an introduction to aspects of observational or laboratory science
  • Develop elementary problem solving skills
  • Provide the opportunity to develop skills and techniques used in astrobiology (astrophysics, biology and chemistry), which have wider application (these include data analysis, preparation of scientific reports.
  • Enhance the student’s key skills (communication, numerical skills, IT, time-management).

Module content

Life on Earth: life sustaining environments, evolution, origins, range, limitations. Chemistry/biochemistry. Fossil records.

Solar System Sites that might support life: Planets and Moons. Sites with the possibility of liquid water, complex chemistry and organic material. Comets.

Search for terrestrial planets: detection techniques, searching for planetary atmospheres and chemical composition. Space missions and ground-based surveys. Signatures of appropriate biochemistry.

Extraterrestrial biochemistry: Alternatives to carbon and oxygen, other probable processes, constraints of physics, biology and chemistry on possibilities

Space origins of life: panspermia, comets as a source of biological material, life on Mars

Human factors for space exploration: physiological and psychological impact of isolation, crowded or constrained living and working spaces and engaging in high risk activities

Environmental influences on life: radiation, gravity, temperature, pressure, atmospheric

composition, extremophiles as examples of life in unexpected places.

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. Describe biochemical and physical processes that take place in the universe with relevance to astrobiology.
  2. Describe a range of environments capable of supporting a wide range of life forms.
  3. Conduct a scientific investigation and rigorously report on the outcomes.
  4. Solve elementary problems and apply appropriate practical skills.

Entry requirements

To study the Certificate in Astrobiology students are normally required to have GCSE grade C in Mathematics and English or equivalent high school qualification.

Fees and Funding

Part-time£975 per 20 credits
Part-time£975 per 20 credits

Scholarships and Bursaries

We have a wide range of scholarships, bursaries and funds available to help support you whilst studying with us.

Select your country and see eligibility information and how to apply by selecting more info on the cards below.

Module Overview

Course Delivery

This is a distance learning course which is taught entirely online with no face-to-face teaching.


Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our published course information. However, our programmes are subject to ongoing review and development. Changing circumstances may cause alteration to, or the cancellation of, courses. Changes may be necessary to comply with the requirements of accrediting bodies or revisions to subject benchmarks statements. As well as to keep courses updated and contemporary, or as a result of student feedback. We reserve the right to make variations if we consider such action to be necessary or in the best interests of students.


This course is based in the School of Natural Sciences located in the Faculty of Science and Technology

For information on possible changes to course information, see our Essential and Important Course Information

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