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This course gives students the chance to explore a fascinating subject seldom taught at school, gaining an understanding of celestial phenomena including supernovae, planets, and stars.

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Course Summary

The Broadening Horizons Astronomy summer course aims to introduce the students to a new fascinating topic, which is not usually taught at school. This course will take students from the history of astronomy as a discipline all the way to the latest discoveries in the field, such as exoplanets and supermassive black holes.

The course requires no previous knowledge of astronomy, only some background in Physics (classical mechanics) and basic Mathematics. It will give the students a taste of the whole field, from fundamentals to the frontiers of human knowledge covering major topics such as celestial mechanics, planets, neutron stars, black holes, galaxies and cosmology. It will focus on understanding both the theoretical and observational aspects.


Physics background required: displacement, velocity, acceleration, period, angular velocity, energy; Newton’s Laws of Motion; The course will require some basic knowledge of concepts in classical mechanics and will expand on these in an astronomical context. Mathematical background required: basic algebraic manipulation; basic trigonometry;

The content of the course will probably be new to everyone. Unfamiliarity with the above topics should not discourage any student from taking this course. Roughly one third of the course is introducing new concepts and topics, a third is discussions and a third is problem solving. The tutor will determine the ratio of the three parts depending on whether the students are more mathematically inclined or not.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will have:


What to expect from this course

The course structure is based on discussion and problem solving. There will be two types of problems presented: some that require simple calculations or estimations and others, more involved, that require measurements, usually following a similar method that lead to a scientific breakthrough. This way, the students will get a feel of what it is like to be a researcher and make a genuine discovery. Problem solving in groups illustrates the teamwork required in science to achieve great scientific impact.

Furthermore, the course will involve many discussions, some philosophical and controversial such as the possibility of interplanetary travel or the existence of extraterrestrial life. There will be one homework sheet testing the student’s understanding and one student presentation.


Oxford College Accommodation

  • Location Oxford
  • Ages Ages: 12+, 13-15, 16-18, 19+
  • Bedroom Type Single and twin
  • Bathroom Type En-suite & Shared (single gender)
  • Year Built Founded in 1096 (University of Oxford)

Further Information

How to Enrol

Astronomy is part of the Broadening Horizons programme.

To visit Broadening Horizons and take Astronomy as a course option, just click the button below and follow the instructions.

Broadening Horizons

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