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Astronomy and Planetary Science

Orion Nebular complex

From planets orbiting other stars to the extreme conditions near a black hole, astronomy and planetary science is all about the discovery of the Universe. This subject area will deepen your understanding of astronomy and planetary science through topics including our Solar System, exoplanets, the life cycle of stars and the evolutionary history of the Universe.

Our Natural Sciences degree programme allows you to study an astronomy and planetary science pathway and your specialism will be included in the name of your degree, BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences (Astronomy and Planetary Science).

How we teach Astronomy and Planetary Science

Compton scattering apparatus

Our long established, quality distance-learning methods use innovative technologies to provide a modern, blended learning experience. We’re designing our new Science modules with on-screen delivery in mind, taking advantage of year-on-year developments in new technologies to make students studies with us even more engaging and flexible - on computer, mobile and tablet devices.

Students will be immersed in interactive activities, using a mix of high quality text, graphics, audios and videos to support their learning.

Meet some of our Academics

Professor Stephen Serjeant talks about his research into dark matter and warped space, he also discusses his work on 60 Second Adventures in Astronomy.

Hear how astrochemist Dr Helen Fraser and her multi-disciplinary team are investigating how planets are formed.

Teaching underpinned by research - Messier 17, the Omega or Swan Nebula

Teaching underpinned by research

The Open University doesn't just teach: its a global leader in research and innovation too, with OU research and development ranking in the top third of UK universities. The Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has a long and distinguished record of conducting high quality, internationally leading research. These researchers contribute to our state of the art curriculum material ensuring our teaching is up to date, informed by scientific research.

Find our more about our research in Astronomy.

You can get a flavour of our published research more broadly in the Physical Sciences through our Open Research Online (ORO) website

Meet some of our Students

Dr Mandy Bailey

I never dreamt I would do the things I have, the observing residential school in Mallorca was a turning point – I knew then what I really wanted to do.

Dr Mandy Bailey
Natural Sciences (Physics) student
Read more


FUSION is the Open University Physics & Astronomy society. They organise regular events of interest to members, have a regular newsletter and Facebook group. They welcome current and past students or anyone with a general interest in physics and astronomy.

Find out more about Fusion

Explore some of our Astronomy and Planetary Science resources

Get Inspired

Watch our 60 second adventures in Astronomy series. Funded by the UK space Agency, Narrated by David Mitchell

Galaxies, stars and planets

Have a look at our free OpenLearn unit. 'Galaxies, stars and planets' (8 hours study)

Icy bodies: Europa and elsewhere

Have a look at our free OpenLearn unit Icy bodies: Europa and elsewhere' (17 hours study)

Meet our Academics

Head and shoulders of male OU academic

In addition to teaching on Open University modules our academics are engaged in ground breaking research that benefits individuals and society.

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Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

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