Suitable for ages 18+

Essential Information

Type Courses
Date and Times Six-week courses held on Monday evenings | See page for full dates
Prices £96

Is our planet the only place in the Universe with life? Or is it everywhere in the Universe, just waiting to be found? This six-week course is designed to explore these possibilities, designed for beginners and taught by a tutor from the Royal Observatory Greenwich

This online course outlines the ongoing studies concerning life in the Universe and an introduction to astrobiology.

Students will learn about what it is that makes Earth suitable for life, uncover the difficulties astronomers encounter when looking for those conditions elsewhere in the Universe, and take a brief look into our search for intelligent life using the most advanced instruments we have at our disposal, including the James Webb Space Telescope.

The course will cover the following:

  • Knowing Ourselves - separating fact from fiction in a world looking for alien life
  • The Universe - exploring the structure of the Universe life resides in
  • Life - a summary of what we already know about the only example of life we currently have - that found on Earth
  • Worlds Beyond - looking for signatures of life on other worlds in our Solar System and beyond
  • Suitability - a checklist of which worlds might be suitable for life throughout the Universe
  • The Future - the chances of finding intelligent life in the Universe

While this course may be studied independently without prior knowledge, it is a possible follow-on for those who have attended the Royal Observatory's Introduction to Astronomy course, either in person or online.

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!

Age: 18+

Meet the tutor: Greg Smye-Rumsby

Greg has worked at the Royal Observatory for close to 20 years, continuing a lifelong passion for all aspects of astronomy. In that time he has created and tutored evening classes for adults in several areas of astronomy, including an Introduction to Astronomy, Amateur Astronomy for Beginners and Life in the Universe. 

An image for 'Meet the tutor: Greg Smye-Rumsby'

When do courses run?

Courses take place on Monday evenings from 7-9pm and run for six weeks in total. The full dates for the 2024/25 academic year are below; when making your booking, simply select the start date of the course you'd like to join in the calendar:

  • 4 November - 9 December 2024
  • 24 February - 31 March 2025

The course is ideal for students who are not within commutable distance of London or cannot travel to Greenwich. 

Note: This course will be run online via a Zoom webinar session.

Greg is one of the best, most enthusiastic and informative instructors I’ve ever had. Praise indeed.

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: James Webb Space Telescope (DAVID HIGGINBOTHAM / NASA)