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PGDip Astronomy (online)

Explore the solar system and uncover the mystery of space

Year of entry: 2019


2 years part-time

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

This Online Masters offers you the opportunity to explore the building blocks of planets, stellar physics, infra-red, radio and high energy astronomy, and discuss the foundations of cosmology. This course delivers flexible and fully supported modules and is taught exclusively online.

Over the course of two years you will gain a formal postgraduate qualification in Astronomy and Astrophysics. It is designed to give you a robust and up-to-date background in areas such as the origins of life and planetary systems. 

Guided by a supportive tutor, you will strengthen your scientific communication and essay writing skills and build your knowledge of physics and chemistry. You will also explore fundermental topics; from the importance of water to the structure of the sun and the solar cycle.

Join a global community

Broaden your academic horizons alongside enthusiastic staff and students.

Learn online

The flexible modules can be accessed from anywhere, at any time; allowing you to shape your own learning experience.

Residential weekends

Meet tutors, network with fellow students, listen to expert talks and engage in study activities.

Course content

This part-time two-year programme is made up of six 20-credit modules and comprises of two stages, Certificate and Diploma. 

This programme will offer home astronomers, who may have graduated in subjects other than physics, the opportunity to gain a formal postgraduate qualification in Astronomy and Astrophysics, and is designed to give students a robust and up-to-date background in these areas.

We hold an optional two-day Residential Weekend at York each year. Each event is an opportunity to meet your fellow students and staff, engage in discussion and share your knowledge of astronomy. These events are free of charge, though students are expected to meet the costs of their travel, accommodation and sustenance. For students who are unable to attend these weekends, there is the option to watch recordings of the key sessions from each weekend.

Should your circumstances change, you can end your studies after one year and graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate.


Year One

Year Two

Students will be required to complete all these modules in the first instance, though additional modules may be added in the future to accommodate future programme growth and offer a broader learning experience.

Full details of programme structures and the modules which comprise individual awards can be found at Postgraduate Programme Specifications.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Part-time, distance learning (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

We strive to make reading materials available digitally within licensing agreements. When this is not possible, students may have to obtain some key texts themselves. You'll be issued reading lists in advance of each term.

UK-based students are encouraged to utilise the SCONUL Access scheme which allows the borrowing of reading materials from other libraries belonging to the scheme.

The optional residential weekends at York are free of charge to attend but you should expect to pay for food, accommodation and travel, which will vary in price depending on your location and the standard of accommodation you choose to book.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You will study online for an average of 15 hours per week. You can decide when you choose to work, as all activities can be completed around your schedule.

Although this programme is taught online, the supportive staff will guide you through a well-structured syllabus that encourages discussion and informed argument. 

The technology-based approach means that our programmes are highly flexible, and you can study from anywhere at a time convenient to you. They are however carefully structured and you will be asked to participate in tasks and activities every week.

The programme is interactive and comprises numerous blog-driven tasks and exercises. You can engage with the tasks at any time during the week. 


Your learning will take place within a supportive Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Blackboard which will give you access to study resources, discussion forums, the University of York Online Library and your University email account.

Within the VLE you will have access to a personal journal, for talking to your tutor on a one-to-one basis, and an online social space, for conversing with other students about programme material and interests or to organise social events.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll be assessed through a balance of short and long critical essays, conference style posters and maths-based open book problems. 

Careers and skills

This Postgraduate Diploma in Astronomy is enriching to astronomers at various stages of their academic journeys. As a graduate, you will have a newfound confidence in your personal abilities as well as an established variety of transferable skills and a rich knowledge of a variety of astrophysical topics. 

Career opportunities

  • Atmospheric Scientist
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Metereologist
  • Engineering Technician
  • Teaching
  • Higher Education
  • Teaching
  • Higher education
  • Science outreach
  • Science communication
  • Astronomy research
  • Further study

Transferable skills

  • Error analysis
  • Data analysis
  • Problem-solving
  • Mathematical techniques
  • Experimental techniques
  • Computational techniques
  • Critical writing
  • Time-management

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer

You should normally be a graduate in a related subject area. We favourably consider students with a BA/BSc award in any subject and evidence of recent higher education level study in this area. Any student may be called to interview and the University of York reserves the right to ask students for academic work to support their application.

Other qualifications

We are committed to ensuring open access and will seek to ensure those without the qualifications highlighted above, but with evident ability to succeed, have the opportunity to engage. In such instances, you may be asked to demonstrate the required skills, which could include a maths test, for consideration of the admissions panel.

Applicants are assessed on a case-by-case basis following the University's Equal Opportunities policy.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. You must have:

  • IELTS: 7.0, with a minimum of 6.5 in Writing and no less than 5.5 in all other components
  • PTE: 67, with a minimum of 61 in Writing and no less than 51 in all other components
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 185, with a minimum of 176 in Writing and no less than 162 in all other components
  • TOEFL: 96, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 23 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Distinction in all components

Full details of the requirements for distance learning students.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Ben Johnstone-Bray, Associate Lecturer
Amanda Pauw, Postgraduate Administrator

Learn more

Centre for Lifelong Learning

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