Suitable for ages 18+

Essential Information

Type Courses
Royal Observatory
Date and Times 10-week modules held on Tuesday evenings | See page for full dates
Prices £200 per module

Our Foundation Astrophysics programme provides people with the opportunity to study a number of topics in astronomy at foundation degree level, without the costs associated with accreditation or the pressure of examinations.

While not formally accredited, students are assessed through coursework and receive certificates of achievement from the Royal Observatory Greenwich on the completion of all modules.

There are six ten-week modules in the programme, which do not have to be studied in order. Each module runs on consecutive Tuesdays with gaps during holidays. When making your booking, simply select the start date of the module you'd like to join.


What can I study?

The modules running for the 2024/25 academic year are below. All of these courses require knowledge of basic science and algebra.

Module 1: Planetary Science

17 September - 26 November 2024 | 6.30pm - 9pm (holiday on 29 October)

This first module offers an introduction to planetary science, exploring current scientific theories on the formation and evolution of the Solar System, the structure of the planets and the processes that continue to shape their surfaces to this day. We try to explain why there are two such different types of planets. There’s also time to glance at some of the moons and probe types of atmospheres.

Module 2: Exoplanets and Astrobiology

3 December 2024 - 4 March 2025 | 6.30pm - 9pm (holidays from 17-31 December and on 18 February)

We explore the scientific techniques used in the discovery of exoplanets and the nature of the planetary systems discovered so far. The module then delves into the origin of life on Earth. This has implications for life and the search for it elsewhere in the Solar System and on planets orbiting distant stars. We don’t neglect SETI.

Module 3: Solar Physics

11 March - 27 May 2025 | 6.30pm - 9pm (holidays from 8-15 April)

This is an introduction to solar physics, exploring our current understanding of the formation, evolution and behaviour of the Sun. Thus, we cover the basic astrophysical principles upon which our understanding relies. Our Sun is the only star, which we can study in such detail.

Note: Each course is intended to be run on-site at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, although occasional online sessions may become necessary in rare circumstances. Please only book if you are certain you will be able to attend an on-site course. 

Everyone taking a course is also entitled to a 10% discount on books purchased from Royal Museums Greenwich - please check with your course tutor for more details.

Ages: 18+

Meet the tutor - Roger O'Brien

Roger has been an amateur astronomer for more than six decades. He graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a BSc in Astronomy in 1995, where staff sponsored him as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. His professional tutoring experience includes teaching at the Open University, City Lit and the Royal Observatory Greenwich, leading a wide range of courses from very basic to undergraduate level. Roger finds the variety stimulating and still enjoys doing some actual observing, volunteering as a demonstrator at the Hampstead Observatory. On the more theoretical side, he has a keen interest in Cosmology. 

A well organised course. Roger is an excellent tutor

Course taker autumn 2022

Public astronomy at the Royal Observatory

Learn all about our programme of events, including daytime observing sessions, evening lates, talks, community astronomy shows, film screenings in the planetarium, astronomy courses and more

Main image: Andromeda Galaxy at Arm's Length © Nicolas Lefaudeux, Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2020 winner