Choose an astronomy degree, and you’ll have the chance to grapple with scientific questions ranging from the origins of the universe to the nature of ‘dark energy’. Often offered alongside physics, astronomy is basically the science of the physical universe, typically focusing on objects and events outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.
What do astronomy degrees cover?
In general, astronomy degrees involve a combination of theory and observation, though some courses will focus more on one of these aspects. The observational side could include opportunities to use telescopes and other professional equipment at major observatories, which may mean travelling to different locations around the world. However, you should also be prepared to spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, as computer-based analysis is a key component of modern astronomy.
Entry requirements for astronomy degrees
Usually students with a variety of backgrounds and experience are accepted to astronomy degrees, and the entry requirements may be flexible. No particular previous knowledge or experience of astronomy is expected, but you should be able to demonstrate a strong interest in the subject. You’ll also need to show aptitude for mathematics and physics; other sciences which may aid your application include geology, geography, statistics, environmental science, chemistry and biology. Always check the specific requirements set by your chosen university.
Course structure and assessment methods
Astronomy degrees typically last three or four years at undergraduate level and one or two years at master’s level, depending on the location. Teaching will usually be based around lectures, discussion sessions and practical seminars, including work in observatories. Students are taught how to use telescopes, catalogues, star charts and computer-based images. Assessment is usually based on research projects and practical tests.
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