Royal Observatory Greenwich

Astronomy courses London

Astronomy / January 31, 2016

This is a very exciting time for planetary science, with new data being returned by spacecraft from the Moon, Mars, Venus and Saturn, with forthcoming missions to Jupiter, Pluto, several asteroids and a comet, and with planets now being discovered orbiting other stars. There is also considerable scientific interest in the likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe. On this course you will learn more about all of this and develop your knowledge of the solar system and its astronomical context. You can also study by distance learning, wherever you are in the world.

This course is also available for part-time evening study over 4 years.



Application deadlines and interviews

15 January is the first UCAS deadline and the majority of university applications through UCAS are made by then. We welcome applications outside of the UCAS deadlines, so you can still apply through UCAS after 15 January, depending on the availability of places. We also take late applications via the UCAS Clearing system in August.

Course structure

You undertake a combination of compulsory and option modules, worth 360 credits in total.

In Year 1, you take 6 compulsory modules and choose 1 option module.

In Year 3, you take 3 compulsory modules and undertake a project.

In Years 2 and 3, some compulsory modules run in alternate years:

  • Comets, Asteroids and Meteorites/Volcanism in the Solar System
  • Physics of the Sun/Physical Principles of Astronomy
  • Exploration and Modelling of Planetary Interiors/Remote Sensing and Planetary Surfaces

You take both modules, but the order in which you take them will depend on which module of the pair is running when you reach Year 2.

Entry requirements

We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.

UCAS tariff points


The UCAS tariff system has changed for courses starting in September 2017 and is now calculated using a new number system. This means applicants applying for courses from October 2016 will see entry requirements and offers expressed using the new tariff.

The UCAS tariff score is applicable to you if you have recently studied a qualification that has a UCAS tariff equivalence.

GCSEs required at grade A*-C (or equivalent) in mathematics.

Alternative entry routes

Access to Higher Education Diploma with a minimum of 15 credits achieved at Merit or Distinction in a science-based subject.

Students who successfully complete Birkbeck's Certificate of Higher Education in Earth History and Palaeontology, Forensic Geology, Geology, Mineralogy and Volcanology or Planetary Geology, will be considered for a place on the BSc, with the possibility of exemption from the first-year modules.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.


Full-time home/EU students: £ 9250 pa
Full-time overseas students: £ 13000 pa

Additional costs

On this programme, you will also have to pay for the following additional costs:

There are 4 fieldtrips available as optional elements of this programme, as follows:

  • The fieldtrip to the Isle of Skye, Scotland includes costs for 11 nights’ accommodation (approximately £517, including evening meals), return flights to Inverness (from £100) and a minibus deposit (£120).
  • The fieldtrip to Scourie, Scotland includes costs that usually total around £700.
  • The fieldtrip to Greece includes costs for return flights (approximately £300), hotel (approximately £470) and vehicle hire (approximately £100).
  • The fieldtrip to Morocco includes costs that usually total around £700 for flights and accommodation.
  • In addition, students will need to equip themselves with field-note books and stationery, compass and hammer and GPS equipment (both optional), hand lens, walking boots and all weather clothing for Skye and Scourie.


Mostly through face-to-face lectures


A combination of coursework and a final-year examination, generally in May or early June. The optional geology field classes do not have a final examination and are assessed solely on work performed in the field.