Get university advice on The Student Room app

studentstudents, parents, grandparentsgb, united kingdomastronomy

Astronomy courses

Are you fascinated by how the universe works and by distant stars and galaxies? If so - and you are good at physics and maths - a degree in astronomy or astrophysics could be for you. Courses are intellectually challenging with in-depth study of physics and core modules in maths. You’ll also learn to operate telescopes and other state-of-the-art equipment. Graduates pursue research careers or work in physics jobs such as high-tech product development, nuclear power and medical physics.

Studying astronomy at university

Example course modules

  • Health issues and ethics
  • Foundations of astronomy
  • Introduction to astrobiology
  • Physics of the sun
  • Igneous petrology
  • Stars and their spectra
  • Relativity
  • Cosmology
  • Metamorphic petrology
  • The physical universe
  • Optical physics and elecctromagnetism

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 34%
    Male : 66%
  • Mature : 13%
    School leaver : 87%
  • Full-time : 88%
    Part-time : 12%

What students say about astronomy

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • Maths
  • Physics

Useful to have

  • Chemistry
  • Further maths

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
Not a lot of people study astronomy as a first degree, and if you want to be one of the small number of people who start work as an astronomer every year, you will need a doctorate – so 40% of graduates go into further study. Astronomy graduates, however, are versatile, going into all parts of the jobs market. If you want to find out more specifically about the prospects for your chosen subject, it might be a good idea to go on open days and talk to tutors about what previous graduates from your chosen subject went on to do.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Information technology and telecommunications professionals

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Physicist
  • Aerospace design engineer
  • Astronomer

Other real-life job examples

  • Actuary
  • Software developer
  • Instrumentation engineer

What employers like about this subject

Students on an astronomy degree will gain subject-specific skills including planning, execution and reporting of experiments and data analysis and the relation of that data to theories in physics and astronomy. Transferable skills you can develop will include communication skills, project management, IT skills, time management, team-working, problem solving, data investigation, high-level numeracy and good research skills. Astronomy graduates get jobs in the space, scientific research, IT and finance industries. If you are aiming for a career in research, you will usually need to take a postgraduate qualification (probably a doctorate) after your first degree and so many astronomy graduates take further degrees.