Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Astronomy


The BSc (Hons) in Astronomy is a part-time distance learning course for-life learners providing a balanced, coherent programme and a strong foundation for further study.  It encompasses all the modules available in the StudyAstronomy portfolio available as University Certificates, Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) and Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), as well as a number of level 6 modules only available to BSc students. There is a great deal of flexibility with regard to the pace of study and the pathway a student takes through the modules. This enables the student to build up a number of University Certificates, the CertHE and the DipHE before finally making their commitment to the BSc.

The course covers a variety of theoretical, observational, historical and IT based approaches to astronomy. Initially in the level 4 modules students study a broad range of astronomical topics including stellar astronomy, the solar system, the galaxy, extragalactic astronomy, cosmology and IT for Astronomy, assuming minimum prior knowledge of maths or physics. The level 5 modules increasingly explain the use of observational data to deduce the physical properties of astronomical objects and provide a scientific account of our current understanding of the topics in question. For the most part, relevant physics and maths are integrated into the astronomy course materials. The level 6 modules include in-depth treatment of some areas of astrophysics and cosmology enabling students to use advanced mathematics to describe astrophysical processes. Students have a very similar range of experiences to their on-campus counterparts and have the opportunity to carry out practical observations, class discussions, group work and their own astronomy dissertation in which they demonstrate their ability to integrate skills and knowledge gained across the individual modules composing the BSc

You do not need to have your own telescope to complete the BSc in Astronomy, but for all modules a PC with internet access is obligatory. 


This course runs from October to May following the normal academic year for campus-based students. The course will normally take between 6 and 10 years to complete, with a minimum duration of 5 years and a maximum duration of normally no more than 12 years.

Study Mode   Part-time by distance learning only

Learning materials are supplied on-line via the Course Website, which also provides a noticeboard and web-based discussion groups where students can interact with one another and with staff. Tutorial support is available by email, web-based discussion or telephone. The university library's Distance Learning Service is available to students enrolled on this course.

Students are required to have access to a PC with internet connections for all modules. Students are responsible for printing out their own paper copies of the learning materials if required.

This course consists of eighteen standard University modules (200 hours of study per module). For each standard module students should expect to devote 4 - 5 hours per week averaged over the duration of the course. Initially, students are recommended to undertake one or two modules per year, depending on their other commitments.

Some of the modules have optional residential weekends at the University’s Alston Observatory and discussion and tutorial sessions are a major element of the weekend courses. 

The BSc is a part-time course with a maximum of  four modules to be studied per year. It is not available as a full-time course.

Most students initially study 1 or 2 modules as University Certificates to check that the study mode and type of course is suitable, before making a long-term commitment to the BSc. The detailed programme of study will depend on your own experiences and preferences and the module availability advertised on Once you have completed two modules you may enrol on the CertHE in  Astronomy and may want to study up to three or four modules per year, depending on other commitments. After completing  six modules for the CertHE, you can enrol on either the DipHE or the BSc.

The following scheme shows a possible 6-year route to the BSc (details will vary subject to module availability).

Year of study

Module Studied



AA1051 (core) and AA1053

Two University Certificates


AA1055, AA1056 and AA1058 or AA1059 or AA1066



AA1057, AA2051, AA2055 and AA1059 or AA1066

CertHE in Astronomy


AA2052,  AA2054, and AA2056

DipHE in Astronomy


AA2053, AA3051, AA30553



AA3050(core), AA3056 (core) and AA3057

BSc (Hons) in Astronomy

Most students in full-time employment will probably take considerably more than the minimum of 5 years to complete the BSc (Hons).

Admissions Criteria

The course is designed to allow non-specialists with a minimum level of academic qualifications access to a rigorous honours degree course. Entry to the BSc (Hons) will normally be via the successful completion of

·         relevant courses at University level (eg University Certificates or the Certificate of Higher Education in Astronomy) or

·         appropriate A/AS levels (normally with a UCAS tariff of 320 points) successfully completed within the previous 2 years.

Applicants for the BSc in Astronomy are normally expected to have GCSE grade C in Mathematics and English or equivalent high school qualification. A2 or A-level study of mathematics or science is advantageous but not compulsory. 

Applicants with other qualifications or seeking to obtain accreditation for prior learning (APL) should contact the Course Leader for advice.

Course Content

The BSc (Hons) in Astronomy (360 national credits) consists of eighteen standard university modules at Levels 4, 5  and 6, each worth 20 national credits. Most UK universities assume that one year of full-time study is equivalent to 120 national credits. The content for the individual modules is described in the separate module descriptions and factsheets. 

Stage 1 corresponds to the six level 4 modules. 

You may choose 6 level 4 modules from the following to include the core module AA1051 Introduction to Astronomy (or its equivalent) and an elective:

Module Code

Module Title



Introduction to Astronomy (Core)

University Certificate in Astronomy


Introduction to Cosmology

University Certificate in Cosmology


Great Astronomers in History

Only available within CertHE, DipHE, BSc


IT for Astronomy

Only available within CertHE, DipHE, BSc


Energy, Matter and the Universe

Only available within CertHE, DipHE, BSc


Investigations in Astronomy

Only available within CertHE, DipHE, BSc 


Sun, Earth and Climate

University Certificate in Sun, Earth and Climate


Introduction to Astrobiology

University Certificate in Astrobiology


Elective at Level 4

Chosen from DL modules across UCLan
or by APL from other institutions

*AA1051 Introduction to Astronomy (or its equivalent) is a core component.

# Students who have not previously studied Mathematics and Physics to A/AS level are required to take AA1056 in Stage 1 or 2 of the BSc.

Most students will complete Stage 1 in the form of a CertHE before enrolling on the BSc to complete Stage 2.

Stage 2 corresponds to twelve modules of which at least five must be at level 6.

(eg one at level 4, six  at level 5 and five at level 6 or seven at level 5 and five at level 6) 

Module Code

Module Title



The Milky Way

Only available within DipHE, BSc


Galaxies Beyond the Milky Way


UV Optical and Infra-red Astronomy

Only available within DipHE, BSc


Exploring the Solar System


Solar Astrophysics

Only available within DipHE, BSc


Solar-Stellar Connection


Astronomy Dissertation (Core)

Only available within BSc



Only available within BSc


Cosmology and Relativity

Only available within BSc


Extreme States of Matter (Core)

Only available within BSc


Collaborative Investigations

Only available within BSc


In addition to the UCLan modules listed above, appropriate credit bearing courses from other institutions, including the Open University, can be accepted towards the BSc by accreditation of prior learning (APL). This APL is limited to a maximum of 240 credits (12 modules) at levels 4 and 5 (but not 6), subject to appropriate subject match and UCLan's Academic Regulations. Prospective students who intend to seek APL should discuss their programme of study with the Course Team during the application process.

All UCLan Astronomy Distance Learning modules studied before registration on the BSc are counted automatically towards the award and do not require a formal Accreditation by Prior Learning (APL) application.

Students are recommended to complete at least 4 modules at level 4 before embarking on level 5 modules. Students must complete at least 6 modules at level 4 and are recommended to complete at least 4 modules at level 5 before starting study at level 6.

Weekend Courses

Some of the modules include optional weekend courses normally held at our Alston Observatory near Preston. BSc students are encouraged to attend the optional level 4 weekend course, which includes tutorial sessions based on the weekend learning materials, practical work and observing sessions (weather permitting).   The cost of these weekends is additional to the course fee.


Assessments for each module are submitted according to a Course Schedule. Details of the assessment structure vary from module to module, so you should consult the appropriate module description for details.

Some modules at levels 5 and 6 involve timed on-line assessment.

Under exceptional circumstances students may be asked to take an oral examination to explain the content of their submitted course work.

Further Study

BSc (Hons) graduates will be able to apply for Masters level courses and PhD positions in the subject area of Astronomy within the UK and elsewhere.

International Students

International Students are welcome to apply but should note that the course is only available in the English language.


The tuition fee for each of the eighteen modules of the BSc is payable in the academic year in which the student registers for that module. The tuition fee for a standard module of 20 national credits is set each year. Please check for details of fees.

There is no tuition fee for the weekend courses at the Observatory, but there is a charge to cover the cost of weekend learning materials, meals and local transport.

Application Procedure and Further Information

For further information and on-line application form visit the website.

Alternatively, contact the Programme Administrator at the following address:

The Programme Administrator
Study Astronomy
School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR1 2HE

Tel:  +44 (0) 1772 893312 (direct line)
Fax: +44 (0) 1772 892915



(This information is correct at the time of going to press but may be subject to change.)

Last updated: BJMHassall 5 February 2014