Queen Mary Summer School

The Universe: an introduction to astronomy, cosmology, and data science

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Academic Lead: Dr Alkistis Pourtsidou

This course provides a broad overview of astronomy to give you an understanding of the evolution of the universe and its constituents. You will learn about the constituents of the observed universe; appreciate (and be able to explain) the important part played by the laws of physics in designing experiments and making observations – and interpret and understand them. You will learn about important data science techniques and explore their applications to astronomy.

You will discover the home of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during your visit to the historic Royal Observatory in Greenwich (founded in the 1670s by King Charles II), and you will be able to stand astride the Prime Meridian, where zero degrees longitude is marked. You will also be able to carry out real astronomical observations using the optical telescopes in-house at the Queen Mary observatory.

Course content is subject to change.


Course aims

This course aims:

  • to acquaint you with a wide-ranging view of the universe from the solar system to stars, the Galaxy, its constituents and to the universe beyond our Galaxy
  • to inform you of the role played by the known laws of physics in our understanding of the observed universe
  • to train you to use astronomical information sources, especially those on the web providing services to both the astronomer and the layman
  • to provide the opportunity for you to gain experience of writing and talking about astronomy at a level either appropriate to a scientist or a layman.

Teaching and learning

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, workshops, and laboratory work.

Learning outcomes

You will learn/develop:

  • an understanding of standard Newtonian physics relevant for astronomy
  • an understanding of simple aspects of quantum mechanics and special relativity relevant for astronomy
  • how to connect ideas from ‘standard physics’ with astronomy, from the familiar physics to the novel setting of astronomy
  • an understanding of the scientific method, how observations and experiments inform and shape our theories of the universe.

You will develop/be able to:

  • understand which concepts from standard physics are relevant for astronomy
  • apply standard physics to the universe and its constituents (planets, stars, and galaxies)
  • understand what observational data is available in modern astronomy
  • understand how observations are made in modern astronomy
  • acquire and apply knowledge in astronomy and astrophysics
  • develop effective communication skills to discuss and communicate research outcomes
  • develop your curiosity and openness for new research areas in astronomy.


The Queen Mary Summer School costs: £1,650 per session, which includes tution and social programme. 

We offer a 10% discount to:

  • Students and staff from partner institutions
  • Alumni
  • Current Queen Mary students 


The cost of accommodation is approximately £500 per session. For further information, please visit our  page.

Additional costs and course excursions

There may be additional costs for field trips, such as entry to exhibitions, which will be in the region of £10-20.
All reading material will be provided online, so it is not necessary to purchase any books.

Please note there is no deposit payment required for the Queen Mary Summer School.

Entry requirements

To join our Summer School, you should have completed a minimum of two semesters’ study at your home institution.

We welcome Summer School students from around the world. We accept a range of qualifications:

  • if your home institution uses the four-point Grade Point Average (GPA) scale, we usually require a 3.0 GPA
  • if your home institution uses the letter scale, you will need to have a B+

We welcome international qualifications and we consider every application individually on its academic merit.

English language requirements

All of our courses are taught and assessed in English. If English isn’t your first language, you must meet one of the following English Language requirements in order to join the Queen Mary Summer School:

  • If you hold a degree from a majority English speaking country plus Canada you may use this degree to satisfy the English language requirements for entry, provided the degree was completed no more than 5 years before the start date of the course to which you are applying.
  • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all sub scores
  • TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 92 (L21; S23; R22; W24)
  • China UEE (University Entrance Exam) - 110
  • CET 4 - 550 or CET 6 - 490
  • PTE Academic 62
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English 176 60- grade C (old marking system)
  • Applicants with an alternative qualification should check it is equivalent to the above or contact us at summerschool@qmul.ac.uk


How to apply

Applications will open on 30 November 2018.

Check out our accommodation and fee discount page.

Have a question? Get in touch, one of the team will be happy to help.

Application deadline: 26 May 2019.

What do I need to apply?

You’ll need to upload the following documents together with your online application:

  • your current academic transcript or your record of studies to date
  • evidence of your English Language proficiency, if your first language isn’t English
  • a written statement explaining why you'd like to attend the Summer School
  • a copy of your passport

What do I do next? 

  • check that you meet the eligibility criteria
  • work with your home university adviser to select the courses you want to study at Queen Mary and ensure they are approved/can transfer back to your own institution
  • gather your transcripts and your proof of language proficiency (if applicable)
  • fill out our online application form

What happens then?

  • we make a decision on your application within 5 days of your application date and send you an offer letter
  • you accept our offer
  • apply for a visa (if you need it)
  • book your flights to London**
  • read all of our pre-departure emails carefully before you arrive
  • pack and get ready for your stay in London
  • arrive in London and move into your new home with us on campus
  • join the welcome programme and start your course
  • complete all your welcome programme/orientation tasks
  • enjoy your time at the Queen Mary Summer School!

** Please don’t connect or enter the UK via Ireland, as there are visa restrictions.


Teaching dates
Session Two: 22 July - 9 August 2019
Course hours
150 hours (including 45 contact hours)
Essay and in class test

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