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Astronomy Summer Course in Oxford Ages 16-18

Oxford Summer School 2020

Part of the BROADENING HORIZONS Programme

Study Astronomy with our Oxford Summer School 2020. 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.

2 or 4 weeks | Available July - August 2020

  • Residential in historic buildings in Oxford
  • An inspiring Astronomy summer course taught by experts.
  • Combine this course with other options - tailor your programme
  • A truly international environment - over 150 nationalities in 2019

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.

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.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will have:

  • Know the history and importance of astronomy;
  • Have a phenomenological understanding of important topics in astronomy;
  • Understand the knowns and unknowns in this field;
  • Understand how these fundamentals are used to understand the world around us;
  • Have experience in researching and presenting a topic.
  • Have a taste of what it is like to study astronomy/astrophysics at university.

The Broadening Horizons Programme

This subject is part of the Broadening Horizons course at Oxford Royale Summer Schools’s Oxford summer school.

The Broadening Horizons course, for students aged 16 to 18, is suitable both for those who are trying to decide what to pursue in further education, and for those who simply want to learn about a variety of interesting subjects - 30+ study options are available!

Students choose two morning classes and one afternoon workshop to provide a diverse and stimulating curriculum that is tailored to their needs, allowing them to pursue areas of interest or try out something new. Students studying Broadening Horizons in Oxford get the chance to live and learn in a college of the University of Oxford or in our 17th-century manor house, Yarnton Manor.

Learn more about and apply for the Broadening Horizons Programme in Oxford

Take this course if...

Take this course if you would like to pursue astronomy/astrophysics at university, or if you are fascinated by physics, maths and the solar system.

Choose your options and apply for Broadening Horizons

The Broadening Horizons programme - our flagship Oxford summer course - allows you to combine different subject options to enable a flexible, tailored programme that best suits your academic needs

To view other options, select your choice of options and apply, please visit the main Broadening Horizons Programme page

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