Study Astronomy with our Oxford Summer School 2017 | Students aged 16-18
Class Summary

This course will give students a grounding in numerous types of celestial object, from asteroids and comets to planets, stars and galaxies. They will begin by exploring the history of astronomy as a discipline, looking at the ways in which humans have sought to make sense of the universe and the methods used for doing so.

Students on this intellectually stimulating course will be introduced to astronomical processes and concepts such as supernovae, gamma ray bursts, quasars and cosmic background radiation, also looking at what astronomy can tell us about the earliest origins of the universe. Students will consider the practical differences between observational and theoretical astronomy, as well as what’s involved in studying the various sub-branches of astronomy, such as solar astronomy, galactical astronomy and cosmology.

As part of the course, students will be introduced to techniques such as computer modelling, as well as other learning about the powerful equipment astronomers have at their disposal, such as the types of telescopes and observatories. Students will also have the chance to debate some of the biggest questions, developing their public speaking skills as they address questions such as ‘will humans ever populate Mars?’, ‘is there life beyond Earth?’ and ‘what lies beyond the universe?’

The course gives students the chance to start exploring a fascinating subject that they are unlikely to have had the chance to study at school. As well as expanding their general knowledge and gaining a deeper understanding of the universe and Earth’s place in it, students will develop skills that will be of relevance to scientific degrees, such as research and analysis. Transferable skills will also be gained, such as the ability to work effectively with others and to present to a group.

For students who find themselves sufficiently inspired to want to pursue astronomy at university, our expert teachers will be on hand to answer questions about university applications and careers in astronomy.


No knowledge of astronomy will be expected of students embarking on this course, though the course will be of most interest to those with an enthusiasm for the natural sciences.