BSc (Hons) Astronomy

This is our flagship programme and is the UK’s only BSc (Hons) Astronomy degree course specifically designed for distance learning education and studies. It consists of a total of 18 modules at HE Levels 4, 5 and 6 (ie year 1, 2 and 3 undergraduate levels).

Students are eligible to enrol when they have succesfully completed relevant courses at University level such as University Certificates or the CertHE in Astronomy.

Alternatively, applicants within 2 years of having completed full-time school education, with appropriate A Levels, may apply for direct entry to the BSc (Hons). They would normally be expected to have a new UCAS Tariff of at least 128 points (eg ABB at A level or 320 points old UCAS Tariff) including:

  1. Two A2 level passes (or equivalent) in any subjects
  2. and a pass in a science/technology subject at A2 level
  3. grade C passes in GCSE English and Mathematics.

APL of appropriate credit bearing courses is accepted towards the BSc up to a maximum of 240 credits (12 modules) at levels 4 and 5, subject to appropriate subject match and UCLan’s Academic Regulations.

Level 6 modules are only available to students who are enrolled on the BSc (Hons) in Astronomy and are Stage 1 complete.

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


Collaborative Investigation

Module Code: AA3057

You will collaborate in small groups with other students to research and study a current astronomical topic. Your research will draw on recent results and research-level articles. Finally your group will produce a report and electronic presentation of your work.

Extreme States of Matter

Module Code: AA3056

In this module you will cover in depth a limited number of physical concepts that describe the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions using astrophysical examples to illustrate the concepts.

Cosmology and Relativity

Module Code: AA3053

You will build upon the introduction to cosmology provided by AA1053, by adopting a more mathematical approach to cosmology and relativity. You will be presented with the essentials of the subject, emphasising the underlying physics and the observational consequences.


Module Code: AA3051

In this module you will explore a selection of topics that are drawn from projects regarded as 'cutting edge research' in astronomy or astrophysics. Examples include the insights into galaxy formation in the early universe, drawing on recent results from space-based telescopes and state-of-the-art numerical simulations, and the discovery and characterisation of extrasolar planets.

Astronomy Dissertation

Module Code: AA3050

The dissertation is an extended piece of work that you will undertake in your final year of study for the BSc. It requires research by way of a literature search and/or web search of up-to-date material. You choose your own dissertation topic, subject to availability of a member of staff with the necessary expertise for effective supervision in that topic, and the availability of appropriate learning resources.

Solar-Stellar Connection

Module Code: AA2056

You will build upon the stellar astronomy and astrophysics covered in AA1051 or equivalent and your level-5 study of the Sun (AA2055). You will study the links between solar astrophysics and a range of stellar phenomena and topics in stellar astrophysics. You will explore in detail the evolution of sun-like stars from their formation to their endpoints as white dwarfs.

Solar Astrophysics

Module Code: AA2055

Solar Astrophysics provides a broad introduction to the subject, involving a mixture of theoretical and observational approaches to demonstrate and explain various solar phenomena. You will learn about the overall structure of the sun, including the use of solar neutrinos and helioseismology to probe its interior, the importance of the magnetic field in determining its surface features and the problem of coronal heating.

Exploring the Solar System

Module Code: AA2054

Our understanding of the Solar System is constantly changing as new results from space research emerge. This module will bring your view of the Solar System up-to-date, using results from recent space missions.

UV, Optical and IR Astronomy

Module Code: AA2053

In this module you will develop your understanding of techniques and processess that underlie astronomical observations. You will learn about the effects of the Earth's atmosphere on observations, telescopes, the uses of photometry, and how detectors including CCD work.

Galaxies Beyond the Milky Way

Module Code: AA2052

Using your knowledge of our own Galaxy, you will be introduced to Galaxies beyond the Milky Way. You will use multi-waveband observations coupled to basic physical principles to understand the phenomena of galaxies in the Universe.

The Milky Way

Module Code: AA2051

You will build upon what you learnt about stars and our Galaxy in AA1051 Introduction to Astronomy to develop a broad understanding of The Milky Way. You will learn about observations of the overall structure of the Galaxy in which we live, concluding with the black hole at its centre. You will also gain an overview of many of the processes that are responsible for shaping the content of the Galaxy and guiding its evolution over time. Assessments include a researched essay and question sheets involving problem-solving and explanations.

Introduction to Astrobiology

Module Code: AA1059

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.

Sun, Earth and Climate

Module Code: AA1058

Starting with an exploration of the Sun, Earth and Climate as complex systems, this module then looks at the interactions that cause them to be interlinked. You will study developments on astronomical, geological, historical and annual time scales and gain an understanding of the context of such matters as climate change and space weather. Practical exercises extend this understanding and develop appropriate scientific skills.

Investigations in Astronomy

Module Code: AA1057

As part of a larger award, you have an opportunity for a more detailed investigation into the topics of the other modules. You will normally cover three topics which might be: the astronomical distance ladder, exploration of the Cosmic Microwave background, the development of large ground-based telescopes, active galaxies, galactic structure and space technology.

Energy, Matter and the Universe

Module Code: AA1056

You will acquire a quantitative understanding of the physical and mathematical concepts underlying astrophysical processes and a foundation for study at Levels 5 and 6 in astronomy.

IT for Astronomy

Module Code: AA1055

Gain an introduction to the application of Information Technology in astronomy. After a brief review of office applications, the module provides notes and practical exercises in the astronomical application of IT. Self-study exercises are biased towards applications appropriate for astronomy and cosmology, using Internet resources.

Introduction to Cosmology

Module Code: AA1053

This module begins to explain how the Universe began and subsequently developed to its present observed form. You will learn how the Big Bang created all elementary particles, about processes that led to the formation of today's galaxies, galaxy clusters and larger-scale structures, and how we can probe the cosmological history of the Universe.

Introduction to Astronomy

Module Code: AA1051

In this module you will study both observational and theoretical aspects of astronomy, including the night sky, telescopes, stars, stellar lifetimes and energy sources, galaxies and cosmology. You do not need to have your own telescope or binoculars to complete this module. Students are invited to an optional weekend course at the University's Alston Observatory.