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Certificate in Astronomy and Planetary Science

Are you fascinated by the night sky and the mysteries of the universe? This certificate will provide you with a good basic introduction to astronomy and planetary science, and equip you with the skills for further study. You’ll investigate the stars and their life cycles; the structure of planets and their atmospheres; galaxies and quasars; space exploration; planetary processes; and the origin and evolution of the universe – including how it might continue to evolve in the future. 

Key features of the course

  • Endorsed by the Royal Astronomical Society 
  • Develops skills of reason and logic that are highly prized in the workplace
  • Builds a solid foundation for further study.
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Certificate

Course code
S10
Credits
60
How long it takes
Part time – 2 years
Full time – 1 year
Time limit – 4 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
For details see Am I ready?

Register for this course

Start dates

Credit transfer: apply by 14/08/2014

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Course details

This certificate comprises 60 credits.

Stage 1 (60 credits)

You’ll start by exploring the structure, origin and evolution of stars, galaxies and the universe, while making your own observations of the sky – asking questions such as: How are stars born, and what happens when they die? What’s the evidence for the ‘big bang’? Finally, you’ll tackle fundamental questions about our Solar System and its formation; including how and why life began on Earth and the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

 


Compulsory modules (60 credits)

  • Astronomy (S282)

    This introductory astronomy module looks at the structure of stars and their life cycles, galaxies and quasars, and the origin and evolution of our universe.

  • Planetary science and the search for life (S283)

    Explore how our solar system formed and has evolved, and the rapidly-changing field of astrobiology – could there be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?


The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, you will be awarded the Certificate in Astronomy and Planetary Science.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website


Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification. However, this is an OU level 2 certificate. You should ensure that you have adequate study skills, such as gained from OU level 1 study or its equivalent, before you begin.

General study skills

Anyone can study with The Open University, but if it's a while since you did any academic work it's worth checking that your time management, computing and English skills are up to speed. Visit Can I do it? to find out more.

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification upfront.
  • If like most OU students studying part time, you study an average of 60 credits a year – you’ll study for six years to complete a degree. Our typical fee for 60 credits is £2,632.
  • Our current fee is £5,264 – based on 120 credits of study – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study.
  • The total cost of your chosen qualification starts from £2,632 based on our current fees.

Typical cost per year

Select the number of credits you are planning to study per year. Most OU students study 60 credits a year, for some qualifications it is possible to study more or less credits.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable than you might think. Options include Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship. 

We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Just answer these simple questions to find out more about the options available to you.

 

An OU qualification will always help you stand out from the crowd, now and in the future – whether you’re just starting out, developing your career, or changing direction entirely.

Skills for career development

As well as an understanding of astronomy and planetary science, this certificate will develop skills in scientific literacy and numeracy, locating and interpreting scientific data, and using a computer to find and communicate information. It also provides a sound foundation for progressing to an honours degree in a relevant area.

Career relevance

The specialist knowledge and understanding you’ll gain by studying this certificate are particularly applicable to areas such as research and investigation, laboratory work, data analysis, public information, scientific journalism and education. Science is a shortage subject at secondary school level, so there may be incentives to train as a physics, chemistry or maths teacher.

Other careers

People with science qualifications are in demand in the jobs market, particularly if they also have good interpersonal skills and some workplace experience. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

 

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):

  • astronomer
  • observatory assistant
  • astrophysicist
  • research assistant
  • science teacher
  • meteorologist
  • geophysicist 
  • laboratory technician
  • scientific journalist
  • technical consultant
  • aerospace consultant
  • industrial researcher
  • planetarium manager
  • museum curator
  • computer scientist

Want to see more jobs? Use the career explorer for job ideas from the National Careers Service, PlanIT Plus in Scotland and Prospects across all nations. You can also visit GradIreland for the Republic of Ireland.

career_explorer

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