Astronomy and Astrophysics

Postgraduate Certificate ( 1 year Part-time )


The Postgraduate Certificate in Astronomy and Astrophysics programme at Queen Mary, University of London, provides a unique opportunity for graduates to pursue the subject in depth, either for personal interest or as a first step towards a professional career in astronomy for those with degrees with sufficient mathematical or physics content. The certificate programme has been running since 1985 and around 50 certificates have been awarded. Some students have gone on to complete the MSc, and even to do PhDs. The programme provides a broad coverage of relevant research topics, including modules on research methods, exoplanets, stellar structure, galaxies and cosmology.

The programme at Queen Mary is unique in the UK in the scope of material covered. It gives students a detailed overview of the fundamentals of the subject as well as an up-to-date account of recent developments in research. The wide range of topics covered by the course reflects the breadth of research interests pursued by the members of staff in our large and friendly research group. Lectures cover such diverse topics as the origin of the universe, dark matter, the life and death of stars, black holes, extrasolar planets and space and solar plasma physics.

Students who do sufficiently well on the Postgraduate Certificate (which essentially consists of the first year of the MSc Astrophysics) may be allowed to change their registration to MSc Astrophysics part-time and go into the second year of the MSc.


The Certificate programme, which starts in late September, is offered part-time over one year.

Lectures are given on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon (14.00-16.00 lectures, 16.00-17.00 tutorial) and evening (18.00-18.30 tutorial, 18.30-19.25 lecture, 19.35,20.30 lecture, 20.30-21.00 tutorial).

Certificate students are required to take four taught modules  (one module typically comprises 22 hours of lectures and 11 hours of tutorials given in a 11 week semester) i.e. 2 of the 4 modules available each semester.

either all lectures on Tuesday and Thursday evenings    (suitable those in full-time employment)
  • or all lectures on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons
  • or all lectures on Tuesdays (afternoon and evening)
  • or all lectures on Thursdays (afternoon and evening)
Modules are chosen in consultation with the MSc Astrophysics Programme Director.

Entry requirements

Students wishing to apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Astronomy and Astrophysics should normally have a degree in a subject with a substantial Mathematics and/or Physics content.

International applicants

Students from outside of the UK help form a global community here at Queen Mary. For detailed country specific entry requirements please visit the International section of our website. If your first language is not English, you must provide evidence of your English language proficiency. You can find details on our English language entry requirements here:

If you do not meet language or scholarly requirements it might be possible for you to undertake foundation or pre-sessional programmes that will prepare you for the masters programme.

If you are unable to find the information you require, please contact the Admissions Office for assistance.

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures, exercises and tutorials.
We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students. You are assigned an Academic Adviser who will guide you in both academic and pastoral matters throughout your time at Queen Mary.
The Astronomy Unit participates in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, using our research background to enthuse students and teach them about the latest advances in astronomy and astrophysics.
Teaching is delivered on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon (14.00-16.00 lectures and 16.00-17.00 tutorial) and evening (18.00-18.30 tutorial, 18.30-19.25 Lecture, 19.35-20.30 lecture, 20.30-21.00 tutorial), with topics swapping in alternate years between day of week and between afternoon and evening. 
Certificate students are required to take four taught modules over one academic year (one module typically comprises 22 hours of lectures and 11 hours of tutorials given in a 11 week semester).
Certificate students normally attend all lectures on Tuesday and Thursday evenings). The full range of timetabling possibilities are:
  • either all lectures on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (suitable those in full-time employment)
  • or all lectures on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
  • or all lectures on Tuesdays (afternoon and evening)
  • or all lectures on Thursdays (afternoon and evening).

Independent Study:
For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for working life.


Of the eight taught modules available each year seven are assessed by examination only and one by coursework only. Certificate students take four of these 8 modules.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2020/21 Academic Year

Part time £5,450

Tuition fees for International students

2020/21 Academic Year

Part time £11,400

Part time fees are charged per annum over two years for a two year programme and per annum over three years for a three year programme. A percentage increase may be applied to the fees in years two and three.

This increase is defined each year and published on the intranet and in the Tuition Fee Regulations. A 3% increase was applied to the unregulated university fees in 2019/20. Further information can be viewed on our University Fees webpage, including details about annual increases.


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

Graduate employment

Postgraduates from the Queen Mary School of Physics and Astronomy go on to work in a variety of careers, such as risk analysis, science communication and academia, whilst others pursue their interest in physics and astronomy by undertaking a PhD.

The national 2011 destination survey confirmed that 91% of the graduates on this programme were in employment and/or study six months after graduation and all were working/studying at graduate level.  Queen Mary postgraduates have an average earning power of £35, 410 six months after graduation.

The broad range of skills gained through programmes in this School, coupled with multiple opportunities for extra-curricular activities and work experience, has enabled students to move into careers such as:

  • Science Communicator
  • Royal Observatory
  • Risk Analyst
  • Equifax
  • Maths Lecturer
  • King’s College London
  • Campaign Analyst
  • Financial Times

Throughout the programme postgraduates have access to careers support to prepare them for applying for work after graduation. Recent career events for the School’s postgraduates include workshops on applying for and doing a PhD, and how to pursue your career aspirations.

Queen Mary’s location between Canary Wharf, the City and the Olympic Village redevelopment means that there are substantial opportunities for on campus and local part time work during their postgraduate degree. On campus there are 1200 job and volunteer opportunities ranging from E-learning Assistant to Website Administrator and from Society President to Student Mentor. QTemps job agency offers work suitable for current students and recent graduates, QMSU Volunteering facilitates volunteering and QM JobOnline hosts over 800 part time and full time job vacancies.

Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers pages



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