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    An undergraduate course in Science.

Astronomy

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This course considers the structure, origin and evolution of stars, galaxies and the universe as a whole, asking questions such as: How are stars born, and what happens when they die? How do galaxies form, and how do we know that the universe began in a ‘big bang’? This introduction to astronomy investigates the stars and their life cycles, galaxies and quasars, and the origin and evolution of the universe – and how it might continue to evolve in the future. You’ll make use of computer-based resources and can undertake some straightforward project work, based on your observations of the sky. 

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

An additional fee for the examination may apply.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
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.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

A background in science and a modest amount of mathematics is required for this course. It is divided into two parts, each consisting of a full-colour book, DVD and web-based material. Project work, DVD and web-based activities support and extend these two parts.

The sun and stars We start with the sun – our star – and then explore the properties of other stars. You will see that there is an astonishing range of stellar types, and that our sun, though essential for our existence, is an unremarkable member of the stellar menagerie that encompasses massive blue stars, brown dwarfs, red giants, supergiants and white dwarfs. You will learn how the various types of star are born, how they live powered by nuclear reactions, and how they die, including the spectacular death of supergiants in supernovae – perhaps leaving behind a pulsar, perhaps even a black hole. Throughout this first part the relationship between stars and the interstellar medium is explored and you will see how the stars and interstellar gas are linked together in a process of cosmic recycling.

The activities supporting this first part include practical project work, mostly based on observations of celestial objects that you will make. All the projects are straightforward – no experience is required – and all can be done in an urban environment with the naked eye. There are also extensive computer and web-based activities. So, for example, you will retrieve and analyse astronomical data from sources on the internet, and use computer spreadsheets to investigate some of the theoretical ideas that are presented in the course. You will also use the internet as a source of up-to-date information about astronomical observatories, space missions and experiments.

Galaxies and cosmology The sun is one of a hundred thousand million stars that inhabit our galaxy – the Milky Way. You will find out how astronomers study the structure and content of our galaxy before moving on to consider other types of galaxy. You will see that some of the most luminous objects in the universe are active galaxies which probably contain supermassive black holes at their centres. You will consider current ideas about the formation and evolution of galaxies and the course discusses how such ideas will be tested by observations from new, space-based observatories. Moving on from individual galaxies, the course looks at large-scale structure and considers the evolution of the universe as a whole. You will review the evidence that supports the idea that the universe began in a ‘big bang’, and you will see how ideas about the early universe are at the forefront of research in physics and cosmology. As in the first part, there is a range of associated activities.

Entry

This is a Level 2 course and you need to have a good knowledge of the subject area, obtained either through Level 1 study with the OU, or by doing equivalent work at another university.

The course is intended for a wide range of people, and with proper preparation it is suitable for all those who want to develop their understanding of astronomy: anyone who has a general interest, amateur astronomers, schoolteachers (at all levels) who want to use the enormous appeal of the subject matter to enhance their teaching of science.

You are not expected to have any knowledge of astronomy, but we recommend that you do not attempt the course without a sound knowledge of physics and mathematics from our Level 1 courses (Exploring science (S104) or (Using mathematics (MST121).

It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle the course, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. The Science Faculty has produced a booklet Are You Ready For S282? to help you to decide whether you already have the recommended background knowledge or experience to start the course or whether you need a little extra preparation. This can be viewed or printed from the Are you ready for science? website.

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

If you have impaired sight you might experience difficulties with some of the questions used for assessment and some of the project work. You might also not be able to make full use of the video or the computer-based resources. If in certain cases these cannot be adapted appropriately for your needs the use of a sighted assistant to assist your work may be appropriate. You can get more advice from the Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

The study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, foreign language or graphic materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Written transcripts are available for the audio-visual material. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. 

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

Course books, other printed materials, DVD-ROMs, a website.

You will need

A scientific calculator.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

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

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. There will be a number of online tutorials that you can join and access via your computer. You are encouraged, but not obliged, to participate in these. You will also be able to participate in discussions through online forums.

If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor will be particularly concerned to help you with your study methods.

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 will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

The TMAs are designed to provide you with regular, targeted feedback in order to help you learn and to assess your own progress towards meeting the learning outcomes. You are required to send answers to your tutor in response to detailed questions and problems that address the various topics studied throughout the course.

Your final course result will be determined by the marks you achieve in your examination. However, you will also need to achieve a certain standard in your TMAs in order to pass the course.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2014.  We expect it to be available once a year.  

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

“I found this course challenging as my initial knowledge of physics was a bit light. At one point I thought ...”
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“Mixed feelings about this one. The subject matter is interesting, no doubt. But the whole thing's a bit of a ...”
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“S282 is designed to be accessible to students with a wide range of backgrounds so we have tried to keep ...”
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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 S282
Credits 30
OU Level 2
SCQF level 8
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Computer-marked assignment (CMA)
Examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

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