Short courses


Introduction to Astronomy

  • 100 hours
  • 16 weeks


These new Introduction to Astronomy short courses allow anyone interested in space sciences to learn more about astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology.

The content of Introduction to Astronomy is divided into two courses intended to be taken sequentially:

Introduction to Astronomy I, which includes the following topics: Foundations of Astronomy, Techniques in Astronomy, Solar System, the Sun and Stars. This course is offered from October 2023.

Introduction to Astronomy II will include the following topics: Interstellar medium, extra solar planets, alien life, Galaxies and Cosmology. This course will be offered from October 2024 and the corresponding details will be posted here in the summer 2024.

You'll study in UCL's Physics and Astronomy Department, which is top-rated for teaching and research. 

You can find out more information on content and materials on the course's dedicated webpage


You'll learn about the following subject areas:  

  • Foundations of Astronomy 
  • Techniques of Astronomy 
  • The Solar System
  • The Sun & Stars
  • Introduction to Galaxies & Extragalactic Objects


There are 12 weekly lectures on Tuesdays, and four practical sessions at the Observatory on Wednesdays. There are additionally two-weekly revision sessions, and two-weekly optional tests.

The first half of the course teaches the Foundations  and Techniques of Astronomy and combines lectures at UCL's Bloomsbury campus with practical sessions at UCL Observatory which is at 553 Watford Way, Mill Hill Park, London, NW7 2QS. 

There is a revision session, followed by an optional test. 

The second half of the course follows the same structure, but focuses on The Solar System: Sun, Stars and Galaxies. 

The lectures at UCL's Bloosmbury campus take place on Tuesdays from 6-9pm.

The sessions at UCL Observatory take place every third Wednesday from 6.30-9.30pm.

Who this course is for

This course is suitable for keen amateur astronomers, teachers and everyone interested in learning more about astronomy. 

Entry requirements and preparation

There are no subject-related A-level requirements, but basic maths and physics at secondary school level is an advantage. The main requirement is a great interest in the subject. 

Online refresher courses in basic physics and maths will be available. 

A good support software is Stellarium, which is free to download.

There is also a recommended text book to follow which is Universe by Roger Freedman, Robert Geller and William J Kaufman, any edition from the ninth onwards. 


The standard course fee is £1,750 which can be paid in two installments of £875.

Learning outcomes

On this course you'll: 

  • develop a solid foundation in astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. 
  • acquire a broad view of these sciences, useful to furthering your studies, perhaps on specific related subjects.


This course is not accredited, however attendees may sit two optional tests at the end of the course in order to receive a certificate of completion.

Course team

Dr Franciscio Diego

Dr Franciscio Diego

Francisco is a lecturer in the UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy. He has a PhD in Astronomical Instrumentation, and 20 years experience of preparing and lecturing at similar UCL courses. He is very active in public and school outreach and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons

Tim is doing postgraduate research at the UCL Astrophysics group on the structure of stellar winds of B supergiant stars, primarily in the Magellanic Clouds. He is a teaching assistant at the UCL Observatory, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a trustee of the British Astronomical Association.

Course information last modified: 23 Aug 2023, 12:05