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Certificate in Astronomy and Planetary Science - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

Through studying these modules you will learn about the structure, origin and evolution of planetary bodies in our Solar System; stars and galaxies; how and why life arose on Earth, and how likely it is that life has arisen elsewhere in the Solar System or beyond; how we detect, map and image astronomical objects in modern multiwavelength astronomy and planetary science.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this qualification, you will have a knowledge and understanding of:

  • key ideas, concepts and principles in astronomy, across themes of time and distance, applied to stars and galaxies, including multiwavelength observational methods
  • the structure of the Solar System, the bodies within it, and the physical and chemical processes operating to sculpt their surfaces and control their atmospheres
  • the nature and origin of life and methods for detecting life and potential habitats for life in the Solar System and on exoplanets.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this qualification, you will be able to:

  • understand and use scientific concepts and information, and apply these concepts and information in relevant situations, including unfamiliar situations
  • grasp abstract physical concepts
  • absorb information presented in a variety of forms: text, numerical, diagrammatic, web pages and multimedia/software packages.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this qualification, you will be able to:

  • retrieve and analyse astronomy and planetary science data from sources on the world wide web, use computer spreadsheets to investigate some of the theoretical ideas that are presented in the modules and process some astronomical data using astronomical software.

Key skills

On completion of this qualification, you will be able to:

  • write short, written arguments that are coherent and clear, an appropriate for the intended audience
  • use spreadsheets to analyse and present observational data, and to investigate simple mathematical behaviour, and use astronomical software to process data
  • use the internet to find information related to topics of astronomical interest, and use astronomical databases on the internet
  • apply arithmetic, simple algebra, and simple graphical methods to solving a scientific problem
  • improve your own learning and performance.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge, understanding and application skills, as well as cognitive (thinking) skills are mainly acquired from either texts or online reading materials, with supporting material from web-based information sources. Basic principles underlying techniques and instruments are taught in part via activities, which will have a strong computer-based component. The skills to improve your own learning and performance are not taught explicitly, but developed by an online discussion forum and pre-course assessments. Self-testing is encouraged through in-text questions, exercises and examples. At least one part of this course is reliant on computer-based assessment which requires internet and computing access at specific times of the year.

Assessment is by tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and online end-of-module examination.