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    An undergraduate course in Science.

Galaxies, stars and planets

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Galaxies, stars and planets is one of a series of short, five month 10-credit courses introducing fascinating topics in science. It covers the exploration of our Solar System; the discovery of planets orbiting other stars; the birth, life and violent death of stars; and the creation of the Universe itself. With a choice of start dates it enables you to try out an area of study before you commit yourself to a longer course, or top up your knowledge and skills between longer courses. 

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£400.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£400.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

Have you ever gazed up into the sky and wondered what lies in the distant reaches of space? This course explores the fascinating science behind the galaxies, stars and planets of the Universe. It will develop your understanding of a wide range of topics in astronomy, with sections on the Sun, planets, stars, extraterrestrial life, galaxies and the origin and evolution of the Universe.

This course explains how the Sun gets its energy and how astronomers are able to observe the Sun, even into its interior. You will be introduced to the planets, their satellites and the minor bodies of the solar system. You will also meet exoplanets, i.e. planets around other stars. The latest ideas about the life cycle of stars, from birth to death, and the cosmic re-cycling of their components are also explored.

You will also meet ideas about the expanding Universe, dark matter, dark energy, the large-scale structure of the Universe and what we know about the very early Universe, shortly after the 'Big Bang'. Many of these topics are at the cutting edge of our understanding but are dealt with in an approachable and (largely) non-mathematical way.

Finally, life beyond the Earth is considered, including its requirements and possible habitats, and the likelihood of alien life – including intelligent life.

Through a series of structured activities you will learn to use the Aladin Sky Atlas (Aladin) program on a PC for interpreting and manipulating astronomical images from space telescopes and ground-based telescopes. Aladin is a leading astronomical software package that is used by professional astronomers and will help you make the transition from just appreciating beautiful astronomical images to also doing quantitative science.

If you are a beginner in science, you will find that the study book introduces new scientific ideas as you need them, progressively developing more sophisticated concepts and skills. If you are an amateur astronomer, or have read popular books on astronomy, you will find that the course develops your understanding and introduces areas of astronomy that you have not met before.

The course is based on a specially written Open University (OU) study book and a website. The website gives you access to astronomical images from some of the biggest telescopes on Earth and in space. The study book provides questions and some activities to help you to test your understanding. You can also use these for self-assessment as you progress through the course. A number of activities will only be presented online via the website.

Entry

Please note: this course is only available for standalone study. You cannot count the credits you gain from the course towards any current OU qualification. It may be possible, however, to count the credits gained towards a qualification if you are already studying with us and have declared your qualification intention before September 2012 – see your qualification description in StudentHome for details.

This course is for people who are new to the subject area. You need little more than an interest in astronomy and the motivation to discover more about it.

Mathematically, you need only to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers. The structured teaching will take you to a level at which you are happy to use maths as a tool in a range of scientific contexts. A maths skills ebook is provided to help you with, for example, fractions, percentages, reading graphs and tables, and scientific units as required by the course.

To cope with the written material you should be able to read and understand written English of a style and complexity characteristic of a professional magazine or quality newspaper, and you should be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and comprehensibly in a written format.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

A proportion of the course is delivered online so you will have to make considerable use of a computer and the internet. If you have severely impaired sight you may not be able to achieve some of the course learning outcomes, as the course relies heavily on coloured images, video sequences and visual identification.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the course materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Study book, study guide, online activities and a website.

You will need

A basic scientific calculator and access to a digital camera or scanner.

You may be required to draw diagrams or to annotate diagrams that you download, and then to use either a scanner or a digital camera to produce electronic versions of these diagrams for inclusion in your assessment. Alternatively creating diagrams electronically will be acceptable.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Study support

You can contact a team of expert science study advisers through an online discussion forum, and they will be able to help you with academic questions to do with the course and the assessment. There will also be an online discussion forum that you can use to get in touch with other students and study advisers.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA).

You have to submit the single piece of written work for assessment after 21 weeks. There will be no other opportunity to complete the course.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in April and October 2014, and April 2015 when it will be available for the last time.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“Did this course in it's first round. I was not disappointed! Brilliantly worded course with excellent examples, diagrams and explanations. ...”
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“I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Having passed its predecessor S194 10 years ago I found this replacement more challenging and, ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code S177
Credits 10
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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