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1 Year
September 2022
Distance Learning

The astronomy course provides an introduction to astronomy, assuming no prior knowledge of the subject. you do not need access to a telescope to complete your astronomy studies.

On this course you will study both observational and theoretical aspects of astronomy, including the night sky, telescopes, stars, stellar lifetimes and energy sources, galaxies and cosmology. It contains some observational and practical exercises, but you do not need to have your own telescope or binoculars to complete this module.

This is the module we use to introduce students to the central ideas of astronomy at first year university level. It takes a quantitative scientific approach and you will need to use maths to solve problems from the outset.


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.

Course content


Astronomy as an observational science, fundamental naked-eye observations, time, seasons, coordinates, optical telescopes, the electromagnetic spectrum, modern observing platforms.


The measurement of stars. The observational Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and the basic properties of stars, the Sun as a star. Binary star orbits. Nuclear energy generation in stars and a descriptive overview of stellar structure. Overview of stellar evolution and its late stages. An overview of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Galaxies and the Universe

The extragalactic distance scale and expansion of the Universe. Galaxy morphology and classifications, spiral structure, rotation curves and dark matter. An introduction to special relativity, cosmological models and the origin of the Universe.

Activities include: Naked eye observations, telescopes; coordinate systems and time; Analysis of images the moons of Jupiter and using them to deduce the mass of Jupiter; astronomical imaging; imaging and analysis of the moon’s surface structure; Computer Assisted Learning Packages; stellar classification; Plotting a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for stars, Expansion rate of Crab Nebula.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. describe or define concepts and astronomical terms from the syllabus
  2. solve elementary problems in basic astronomy
  3. demonstrate elementary skills in measurement, log keeping and data analysis
  4. demonstrate elementary laboratory report writing skills
  5. summarise simple scientific information and concepts and draw conclusions. (e.g. following a laboratory experiment or observation)

View the course facilities

Alston Observatory is our purpose-built teaching observatory, including a teaching room with planetarium, an optics lab and dark rooms. We offer an optional weekend course at Alston Observatory to students on the Introduction to Astronomy / Introduction to Cosmology courses including opportunities to talk to the staff formally about the course materials, and to informally discuss astronomy in general with our staff and other students.

Entry Requirements

To study the Certificate in Astronomy 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
Part-time£975 per 20 credits
Distance 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.


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