Astronomy GCSE

Studying GCSE Astronomy will give you the critical skills to power your future.

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Due to high capacity this course is temporarily unavailable until early May 2023.

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Studying GCSE Astronomy will help you cultivate fundamental skills both universities and employers value highly, such as scientific thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to evaluate observations and methodologies.

A qualification in astronomy opens the doors to a diverse range of scientific careers such as becoming a meteorologist, a planetarium director, a science museum curator or even an engineer! It's the first step into astronomy but a giant leap for your future.

What you'll learn

Unit 1 - Essential Maths Skills for Astronomy

Before you get stuck into the rest of the course, this section will help you refresh and practise your maths skills! Maths is a fundamental part of astronomy, and you’ll need to be confident with numbers in order to do well in your exams.

Unit 2 - Planet Earth

To understand planets, you need to start with Earth! In this module, you’ll become an expert in Earth’s internal structures: the crust, mantle, outer and inner core. You’ll then learn about the major features of Earth’s surface and its reference points, like the equator and the prime meridian. Finally, you’ll learn about the effects of the Earth’s atmosphere on astronomical observations, including sky colour and skyglow.

Unit 3 - The Lunar Disc

Now it’s time to look closer at the moon and its structures, learn to identify some of the key features on its surface, such as craters and terrae. In this module, you’ll also study the rotation and revolution of the moon and the effect of libration.

Unit 4 - The Earth-Moon-Sun System

There is an integral relationship between the Earth, moon, and sun and in this module, you’ll understand exactly what connects them, by observing how they affect each other with tides, precession and eclipses. You’ll also develop a range of mathematical skills, including the use of angular measures in degrees and solving algebraic equations.

Unit 5 - Time and the Earth-Moon-Sun Cycles

Here’s where you get to study the astronomical definitions and measurements of time bylooking at the annual variation in the times of sunrise and sunset. You’ll be able to use data related to different time zones and understand the difference between synodic and sidereal time. Finally, you’ll study what causes solstices and equinoxes.

Unit 6 - Solar System Observation

There’s a certain way to observe planets, understanding the locations of planets in relation to the Earth, and a certain way to observe the sun safely, too. In this module, you’ll discover the different methods used to make solar system observations, noticing the motion of the sun as it follows an annual path called the ecliptic, amongst other solar occurrences. You’ll also be able to detect meteors and understand the cause of meteor showers.

Unit 7 - Celestial Observation

After studying this module, you’ll be able to observe astronomical phenomena (such as star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, planets and comets) with the naked eye. How? You’ll learn how to plan your observations taking into account weather and light pollution to be at the best time and location. This module will then teach you how to use information from star charts, planispheres, and different apps to identify objects in the night sky.

Unit 8 - Early Models of the Solar System

As if going back in time, you’ll learnhow early astronomers modelled the solar system. ‘Discover how ancient civilisations all around the world used solar and lunar observations for their agricultural, religious, time, and calendar systems, understanding how crucial astronomy was (and still is) in many aspects of life.

Unit 9 - Planetary Motion and Gravity

Dive into the gravitational pull of the sun, learning about the motions that planets and how gravity influences their journey around the sun. This unit will teach you about Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, alongside Newton’s law of universal gravitation.

Unit 10 - Exploring the Moon

Come to understand the major difference between the appearance of the moon’s near and far sides whilst paying attention to the moon’s internal structure and distinct features. Discover why there’s a constant drive to improve the accuracy, detail and range of observations made about the moon.

Unit 11 - Solar Astronomy

In this module, you’ll study the structure of the sun, learning about its energy production process and solar wind. You’ll also learn how to use sunspot data, and ‘ to determine information about the sun’s rotation period and solar cycle. ‘You’ll then explore the location and relative temperatures of the sun’s internal divisions, including its core and radiative zone.

Unit 12 - Exploring the Solar System

Here, you’ll discover the observations that provided a context for the invention of the telescope, the development of the space telescope, and probes to the outer reaches of our solar system. From here, we’ll teach you how to investigate the main bodies that make up the solar system, learning about their characteristics. This will provide a context for the manned exploration of the moon.

Unit 13 - Formation of Planetary Systems

It was the interaction of gravitation and tidal forces that led to the formation of our solar system. By using your understanding of how this might have occurred, you’ll use this information to study exoplanets and consider the possibility of life existing elsewhere in the universe.

Unit 14 - Exploring Starlight

Become an expert at observing stars in this module, learning how to obtain information about them just from observing the light they emit. ‘ You’ll learn why we observe stars in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and where telescopes are located to enable better observations to be made.

Unit 15 - Stellar Evolution

Learning about the different types of stars, you’ll also discover how and why stars evolve, looking at their formation and how they end their life, depending on their size. You’ll develop a solid understanding of the principal stages and timescales of stellar evolution for different stars, including red giant stars, white dwarf stars, and supernovas.

Unit 16 - Our Place in the Galaxy

In this module, you’ll get to study everything about the Milky Way and be able to recognise its appearance as seen from Earth. This is where you get to explore our place in the universe, looking at different types of galaxies beyond our own. Then, you’ll get to grapple with the main theories for the evolution of galaxies.

Unit 17 - Cosmology

Finally, you’ll end this course by closely studying the evidence and explanations for the universe’s expansion, with reference to the big bang theory and the steady-state theory. You’ll also gain an understanding of redshift and Hubble’s law for distant galaxies, exploring dark matter and dark energy. Delving into the possible fate of the universe, you’ll understand that current models predict different evolutionary paths for the future.

Extra info

Fast Track - In a rush? You'll have the option to complete this course within a year.
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Awarding Body


Edexcel is the UK’s largest awarding organisation offering academic and vocational qualifications in schools, colleges and workplaces in the UK and abroad. Edexcel is a multinational education and examination body covering A-Level Courses and GCSE Courses.

Course Outcome

Upon successful completion of this home learning course, you will receive an Astronomy GCSE (1AS0) qualification issued by Edexcel. This syllabus has been specifically chosen because it is best suited to distance learning.

How is this course assessed or examined?

You can enrol now for examinations for Summer 2024.

You will be required to complete the two standard GCSE Astronomy standard written exams:

  • Paper 1: 1 hour 45 minutes, 50% of GCSE, 100 marks.
  • Paper 2: 1 hour 45 minutes, 50% of GCSE, 100 marks.

We provide a guaranteed exam space in one of our exam centres around the country to take away the hassle of needing to find your own.

During your course, you'll be required to complete various assignments. These do not contribute to your final grade but provide you with an opportunity to submit work to your tutor for marking and feedback. This will help you to monitor your progress and will be used to produce predicted grades (CAGs) if needed.

You'll also need to complete two observational tasks: one unaided and one with the aid of a telescope. You can use your own telescope if you wish; however, you'll be given a login for the National Schools' Observatory, so you can complete your observations via the website.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this level two Astronomy course, but you will need the ability to carry out observations of the night sky. You'll also need to have a fairly good grasp of maths.


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Many of our courses do not require exams however, A-levels, GCSEs and some other courses do require exams to complete the qualification. Exam fees are additional to the cost of the course and prices vary depending on the course and where you sit them – find out more.

Planning on studying A-levels or GCSEs with us? We can add your exams during enrolment and blend them into your monthly payment plan if you wish. If you’re not ready to book your exam(s) yet, you can book them at a later date – all of the information is available on MyOxbridge under NEAS and Exams.

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At Oxbridge, we take enrolments all year round. Once you’re enrolled, you’ll be able to get started right away. Studying online means your work and revision fit around you and your lifestyle. For example, if you have a part-time job or need to study alongside other subjects, you’ll be able to find time to fit our online courses into your schedule.

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Exam Results: When will I receive my certificate?

Oxbridge students who sat their exams through our partnership exam centres will usually receive their certificates in November. Certificates will be sent out by recorded delivery.

Wondering what to do next? There are so many options available, it’s important to get the right advice. Whether your choice is to continue onto further education, go into job training or get an apprenticeship and whether your grades are high or low – there are always options! Speak to an adviser today to see how we can support you on your next steps…

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Universities prefer neither iGCSEs or GCSEs. Universities recognise both iGCSEs and GCSEs and treat them equally.

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How long does it take to gain a GCSE as an adult?

GCSEs are typically studied across a period of 2 years however, our fast-track GCSE option enables you to complete and qualify for your chosen GCSEs within a year.

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Gaining GCSEs is the first step toward sitting a uni degree. You’ll need GCSE courses or IGCSE courses to progress to A-level courses, which remain the most prevalent means of accessing higher education.

At Oxbridge, we offer both GCSE and IGCSE courses, which are qualifications of equal merit with the added benefit of being internationally recognised. Both GCSEs and IGCSEs can be studied by adults online.

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Exam Results: I have individual unit marks, but no overall grade. What should I do?

Check for a cash-in code on your statement of entry. If there isn’t one, cash-in may not have been applied for. Cash-in can be applied for retrospectively from your exam centre and once entered you can expect an overall grade in one week.

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Selecting GCSEs is a highly personal decision that will be influenced by factors such as your educational and career goals, your skills and strengths, and the subjects you enjoy (or don’t enjoy). To help you decide on the right GCSEs for you and your future, we’ve written a detailed guide on choosing GCSE subjects.

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Is IGCSE harder than GCSE?

International General Certificate of Secondary Education courses (ICGSEs) cover some of the same subjects as GCSE’s such as GeographyEnglish Language and the sciences, but they are recognised internationally. The level of difficulty is equal to a GCSE course, and universities view both qualifications as equal.

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It’s never too late to gain a GCSE qualification. Oxbridge teach thousands of adult GCSE courses every year. So, whether there’s a specific career you’ve always been interested in but couldn’t pursue because you didn’t have the right qualifications, or you want to take up a college or university course, an online General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) course can help get you there. The same can be said for our adult A-level courses too.

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Why study GCSE courses or IGCSE courses with Oxbridge?

When you enrol on a course with us, you’re really enrolling into a partnership. We set up our online learning platform to help people achieve the grades and qualifications they need to realise their aspirations. We do everything we can to help make our students’ dreams come true.

Our learning platform is award-winning, and our course content is written by Oxbridge subject experts and delivered by tutors who are just as passionate about their teaching as they are in helping you succeed.

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What does GCSE stand for?

GCSE stands for: General Certificate of Secondary Education and IGCSE stands for ‘International General Certificate of Secondary Education’.

Whatever your aspirations and goals for the future, you’ll most likely need GCSEs to get there. Introduced in 1988, the General Certificate of Secondary Education remains the UK’s primary recognised certificate of foundation-level education and is viewed by employers, colleges and universities as the minimum expected standard for prospective candidates.

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Why Study GCSE courses or IGCSE courses online?

GCSEs remain a basic requirement for further education and some workplaces, so adding them or an IGCSE equivalent to your CV can be essential for personal success.

Studying these GCSE qualifications online has opened up a world of possibilities for people who haven’t been able to learn around their jobs or family commitments before.

If traditional education has held you back long enough, take the reins and build a future you’re proud of.

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Why study AQA GCSE Astronomy online?

Completing the GCSE Astronomy online means you get to study in your own time, at your own pace – with the full help and support from Oxbridge of course! With our award-winning learning platform, you’ll explore every known corner of the known universe!

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What will you learn in this GCSE Astronomy course?

You’ll learn about the major components of our galaxy, from the Earth, moon, and sun, to the surrounding planets, comets and stars. You’ll explore the forces which have shaped our planetary systems, causing day, night and seasonal cycles. You’ll travel in time to understand how stargazers through the centuries have used astrological observations to make sense of our place in the world, before uncovering how current theories for the evolution of our universe may shape humanity’s future.

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