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Has anybody studied the UCLAN BSc in Astronomy?


NovaeSci
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Hi all,

My first post here. I've done a search, but most post on UCLAN seem to be from years ago. I've enrolled on Introduction to Astronomy, with the intention of completing the whole BSc, moving on to a MSc in Astrophysics and then a PhD.

I'm curious if people rate this degree? I was originally going to the Open University Physics degree, but I felt there wasn't enough Astro-content. This one is packed full.

All the best,

Michael :D

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Hi

That sounds like an excellent idea. 

Unfortunately, I can't comment on the quality of the course, and how it would prepare you for a Masters and beyond, but I'm sure that if you emailed Andy Newsom at Liverpool John Moores University he'll be happy to give his views.  LJMU is a significant provider of online Astronomy courses in its own right, and Andy is a big advocate of distance learning. 

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20 hours ago, NovaeSci said:

Hi all,

My first post here. I've done a search, but most post on UCLAN seem to be from years ago. I've enrolled on Introduction to Astronomy, with the intention of completing the whole BSc, moving on to a MSc in Astrophysics and then a PhD.

I'm curious if people rate this degree? I was originally going to the Open University Physics degree, but I felt there wasn't enough Astro-content. This one is packed full.

All the best,

Michael :D

Hi Michael, welcome to SGL.

I did this introductory course in 2013 and thought it was well worth it. However, was also doing an engineering degree with the OU (only two modules left), so didn't continue.

If I recall correctly, you'll need to do more than one module per year to get the degree, due to the number of modules.

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I've done five first year level courses under this consortium and found them excellent on all counts. Going further would have meant sorting out my maths, a potentially impossible challenge. I was a teacher at the time of my astronomical studies and, therefore, had an interest in the business of teaching and learning as a subject in its own right. What struck me was how well thought-out the courses were from a pedagogical point of view. I felt I was being very well taught.

Olly

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Hi

I've got a physics with astrophysics degree and the amount of maths in the degree (and the level of it) was close to 50% of the content. My concern would-be the step up from a BSc in astronomy (where, in general, the level of maths is not comparable to a physics degree) to a MSc and PhD in astrophysics. 

 

If you have confidence in your maths then go for it and for all I know the BSc may contain more maths then I envisage. 

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Hi NovaeSci,

I am enrolled currently in the UCLAN BSc course. I would agree that it is excellent and challenging (the latter maybe because I am a MD). I can't say how well it will prepare you for the MSc and PhD levels. Regarding math you will need something a bit more than IGCSE level - some basic calculus is required even for the level one courses. If you wish to get the degree in a reasonable time you will need to do two or three courses a year. Part time I have found two courses a year my limit. 

Best

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  • 2 months later...
On 21/09/2020 at 17:29, NovaeSci said:

Hi all,

My first post here. I've done a search, but most post on UCLAN seem to be from years ago. I've enrolled on Introduction to Astronomy, with the intention of completing the whole BSc, moving on to a MSc in Astrophysics and then a PhD.

I'm curious if people rate this degree? I was originally going to the Open University Physics degree, but I felt there wasn't enough Astro-content. This one is packed full.

All the best,

Michael :D

Hi Michael,

I want to give a quick idea about both University since I have successfully completed the BSc (Hons) in Astronomy (UCLan) and MSc in Astrophysics (Ljmu).

You did the right choice with UCLan the staff is very professional, extremely well organised and always ready to support students. You will have detailed feedbacks helping you to improve the level. If you proceed you will see the difference between level 4 and level 6 but the staff is ready to help you with questions or doubts.

Unfortunately I can't say the same about Ljmu, the MSc in Astrophysics has been a massive disappointment. Despite I have enjoyed the subject, there is no support of any kind, no feedback of your exams, the staff doesn't give you any help. You have quick sessions of tutorials and that's all..!

There are strange rules on the exams, if you don't respect you will be eavily penalised. Most shocking the staff doesn't give any feedback so you have no idea with question is correct and which is not so the question is: could improve the level? Definitively no...!!!

Same process was applied for my MSc dissertation, got the final marking with no feedback. In addition is not a cheap MSc currently fees are increased...

I strongly don't recommend Ljmu avoid if you can is waste time and educationally useless..

Regards

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 21/12/2020 at 21:59, Von said:

Hi Michael,

I want to give a quick idea about both University since I have successfully completed the BSc (Hons) in Astronomy (UCLan) and MSc in Astrophysics (Ljmu).

You did the right choice with UCLan the staff is very professional, extremely well organised and always ready to support students. You will have detailed feedbacks helping you to improve the level. If you proceed you will see the difference between level 4 and level 6 but the staff is ready to help you with questions or doubts.

Unfortunately I can't say the same about Ljmu, the MSc in Astrophysics has been a massive disappointment. Despite I have enjoyed the subject, there is no support of any kind, no feedback of your exams, the staff doesn't give you any help. You have quick sessions of tutorials and that's all..!

There are strange rules on the exams, if you don't respect you will be eavily penalised. Most shocking the staff doesn't give any feedback so you have no idea with question is correct and which is not so the question is: could improve the level? Definitively no...!!!

Same process was applied for my MSc dissertation, got the final marking with no feedback. In addition is not a cheap MSc currently fees are increased...

I strongly don't recommend Ljmu avoid if you can is waste time and educationally useless..

Regards

Hi all,

 

Apologies for the late response. Thank you to all for your messages, it's greatly appreciated!

Von - you said you had done the BSc in Astronomy? Another reason which swayed me from the Open Uni is that most of it is textbook and exams, with not a lot of chances to practice academic writing and research skills as much as I'd like. How would you rate the BSc Astronomy in terms of the coursework they set and the research opportunity potential, etc? Did you get to pick your own Dissertation?

Also, regarding the Maths and Physics content, how much would you say there is compared to a Physics/Astrophysics degree? I hear that even though it's called a BSc in Astronomy, it would be more aptly named BSc in Astrophysics. What did you find you was lacking between the transition from BSc to MSc as well?

I'm sorry to hear about your experience with your MSc. I've been highly considering doing a MSc by Research in Astrophysics. That's why I'm hoping I can finish this degree with some good research skills under my belt.

Thanks again Von and to everyone else :)

Michael

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On 22/09/2020 at 16:06, michael.h.f.wilkinson said:

I will ask my colleagues at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen what they think of the course, if you like

Hi Michael,

 

That would be great to hear some feedback 

 

Thank you :)

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On 02/10/2020 at 12:24, beka said:

Hi NovaeSci,

I am enrolled currently in the UCLAN BSc course. I would agree that it is excellent and challenging (the latter maybe because I am a MD). I can't say how well it will prepare you for the MSc and PhD levels. Regarding math you will need something a bit more than IGCSE level - some basic calculus is required even for the level one courses. If you wish to get the degree in a reasonable time you will need to do two or three courses a year. Part time I have found two courses a year my limit. 

Best

Hi Beka,

What courses have you completed/enrolled on, up to now? Just trying to get as much info; but, there doesn't seem to be many people to talk to about the course.

All the best,

Michael

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On 08/01/2021 at 23:43, NovaeSci said:

Hi Beka,

What courses have you completed/enrolled on, up to now? Just trying to get as much info; but, there doesn't seem to be many people to talk to about the course.

All the best,

Michael

I have completed 8 courses, currently on my ninth. Here is the list...

Introduction to Astronomy, Introduction to Cosmology, IT for Astronomy, Energy Matter and the Universe, Investigations in Astronomy, Sun Earth and Climate, Introduction to Astrobiology, The Milky Way and finally Ultraviolet, Optical and Infrared Astronomy. 

The last which I am currently doing. Some of them require the first two as a prerequisite. I have really enjoyed all them - the course materials are fantastic. The instructors when needed are responsive on the forums. I intend to go as far as I can to the extent my time and resources allow. 

Best

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9 hours ago, beka said:

I have completed 8 courses, currently on my ninth. Here is the list...

Introduction to Astronomy, Introduction to Cosmology, IT for Astronomy, Energy Matter and the Universe, Investigations in Astronomy, Sun Earth and Climate, Introduction to Astrobiology, The Milky Way and finally Ultraviolet, Optical and Infrared Astronomy. 

The last which I am currently doing. Some of them require the first two as a prerequisite. I have really enjoyed all them - the course materials are fantastic. The instructors when needed are responsive on the forums. I intend to go as far as I can to the extent my time and resources allow. 

Best

In 'Energy, Matter and the Universe', how much physics and maths do you end up learning? Is it mainly A-Level level, or does it go in to University level? I also hear it feels more like a 30 credit course, rather than 20 credits, if there is any truth in that? I have the recommended books 'Engineering Mathematics' and 'Principles of Physics', and I wondered how much does the course refer you to these books, along with how much of the books do they cover? Is it just selective parts, or does the module cover a great deal of info from the book?

One I'm interested in is 'Investigations in Astronomy'. Would you say this provides the student with a good foundation in scientific writing and research skills? What did you get a choice of doing as well?

I plan on doing 3 modules each year and possibly maybe studying the Dissertation in a year by itself. But that's a bit of a way off yet.

Thanks again for the response :)

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11 hours ago, NovaeSci said:

In 'Energy, Matter and the Universe', how much physics and maths do you end up learning? Is it mainly A-Level level, or does it go in to University level? I also hear it feels more like a 30 credit course, rather than 20 credits, if there is any truth in that? I have the recommended books 'Engineering Mathematics' and 'Principles of Physics', and I wondered how much does the course refer you to these books, along with how much of the books do they cover? Is it just selective parts, or does the module cover a great deal of info from the book?

One I'm interested in is 'Investigations in Astronomy'. Would you say this provides the student with a good foundation in scientific writing and research skills? What did you get a choice of doing as well?

I plan on doing 3 modules each year and possibly maybe studying the Dissertation in a year by itself. But that's a bit of a way off yet.

Thanks again for the response :)

Well, regarding how much physics and math you end up getting from the 'Energy, Matter and the Universe' course, while I am unfamiliar with the A level I have seen some of the International Baccalaureate (IB) courses my daughter had been doing which I understand are of a similar level. So the physics will be at the same kind of level as the IB Higher Level (there is also standard level), The mathematics though I believe might be on a slightly lower level than the IB Higher Level mathematics. In the 'Milky Way' course we had to review some papers and the mathematics in some of them was beyond the levels I had encountered in any of the courses.

On the texts books I can't say much as I did not use them. I mostly used the course notes and resources on the Internet as it is not very strait forward accessing them or purchasing them where I am. In fact I ended up purchasing the recommended texts only for the first two courses. Some of the others were available online in the UCLAN library, otherwise I made do with the course notes and other Internet resources - though it might not be ideal. My own opinion would be that some mathematics beyond that covered by the above course would be a great advantage - for example differential equations, probability and statistics etc. 

Finally in 'Investigations in Astronomy' you choose one from five or six topics to write up. I would agree that it gives a good foundation in scientific writing and research skill, my reservation was that you learn what your mistakes were when you receive your graded feedback and there is no further chance to correct these in a subsequent assignment - which might be significant if you are concerned about getting good grades.

Three courses a year is okay I think if you are not in a demanding full time job.

I hope this information is helpful.

Best

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Good to have your enthusiasm so go for it!  I can't comment on the course you outline but as a fifteen year remote study veteran in STEM subjects let me tell you this:  as others have said, that significant maths will be involved.  VERY significant as you advance.  It's then when your enthusiasm may wane, despite what you may think now in the glow of your initial excitement - I have seen this happen to many fellow students.  Maths comes into every STEM subject, it is all over the place in so many areas, areas where you'd think "How could maths be anything to do with it"?  But it does.  Py (i.e. 3.141) comes into almost everything!   You will spend many, many hours over very technical and detailed texts and books, stuck, and will have to work very hard at it.  This is the nature of advanced study so be prepared for this.

I have a BSc and MSc in electronic and computing/networking engineering, both done part time (my background is electrical) at Birmingham/Liverpool and Open Universities - all excellent.  However, they are a *huge* time commitment.  I mean HUGE and you need to be aware of this.  I did the first year of a part-time PhD too but abandoned it, the time commitment and research doing it part-time was almost impossible for me.  Maybe for you it will be different. 

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

Edited by kirkster501
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On 10/01/2021 at 07:50, beka said:

I have completed 8 courses, currently on my ninth. Here is the list...

Introduction to Astronomy, Introduction to Cosmology, IT for Astronomy, Energy Matter and the Universe, Investigations in Astronomy, Sun Earth and Climate, Introduction to Astrobiology, The Milky Way and finally Ultraviolet, Optical and Infrared Astronomy. 

 

IT for astronomy.  Indeed, there is an entire Python programming library dedicated to astronomy!

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1 hour ago, kirkster501 said:

Good to have your enthusiasm so go for it!  I can't comment on the course you outline but as a fifteen year remote study veteran in STEM subjects let me tell you this:  as others have said, that significant maths will be involved.  VERY significant as you advance.  It's then when your enthusiasm may wane, despite what you may think now in the glow of your initial excitement - I have seen this happen to many fellow students.  Maths comes into every STEM subject, it is all over the place in so many areas, areas where you'd think "How could maths be anything to do with it"?  But it does.  Py (i.e. 3.141) comes into almost everything!   You will spend many, many hours over very technical and detailed texts and books, stuck, and will have to work very hard at it.  This is the nature of advanced study so be prepared for this.

I have a BSc and MSc in electronic and computing/networking engineering, both done part time (my background is electrical) at Birmingham/Liverpool and Open Universities - all excellent.  However, they are a *huge* time commitment.  I mean HUGE and you need to be aware of this.  I did the first year of a part-time PhD too but abandoned it, the time commitment and research doing it part-time was almost impossible for me.  Maybe for you it will be different. 

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

I've always enjoyed maths and been quite a natural at it. I nearly went for the Mathematics and Physics degree at The Open Uni. I just chose this degree as I didn't fancy spending the next 6 years studying no Astro related modules. There is maths involved in the course, but I own KA Stroud's Engineering Mathematics, which I'm working through - I believe it takes you to the end of the second year in an Engineering degree. But I also own both the Mathematical Methods books by Boas and Riley, which I intend to go on to after Stroud's textbook. So I'm positive my maths will be up to par. I'm currently about to start learning Calculus. I'll most likely buy the Open University books on eBay as well. I intend to use the 4 month summer breaks (mid-May to mid-Sept) to learn new branches of maths. I kind of want to graduate this degree with a high level of mathematical competency. I'd like to do my dissertation on Black Holes or Dark Matter; however, this may change as I study more branches of Astrophysics. 

I'm lucky as I actually do have the time alongside my job. But I guess only time will tell. It's a joy for me studying Astronomy, so never feels like work.

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6 hours ago, beka said:

Well, regarding how much physics and math you end up getting from the 'Energy, Matter and the Universe' course, while I am unfamiliar with the A level I have seen some of the International Baccalaureate (IB) courses my daughter had been doing which I understand are of a similar level. So the physics will be at the same kind of level as the IB Higher Level (there is also standard level), The mathematics though I believe might be on a slightly lower level than the IB Higher Level mathematics. In the 'Milky Way' course we had to review some papers and the mathematics in some of them was beyond the levels I had encountered in any of the courses.

On the texts books I can't say much as I did not use them. I mostly used the course notes and resources on the Internet as it is not very strait forward accessing them or purchasing them where I am. In fact I ended up purchasing the recommended texts only for the first two courses. Some of the others were available online in the UCLAN library, otherwise I made do with the course notes and other Internet resources - though it might not be ideal. My own opinion would be that some mathematics beyond that covered by the above course would be a great advantage - for example differential equations, probability and statistics etc. 

Finally in 'Investigations in Astronomy' you choose one from five or six topics to write up. I would agree that it gives a good foundation in scientific writing and research skill, my reservation was that you learn what your mistakes were when you receive your graded feedback and there is no further chance to correct these in a subsequent assignment - which might be significant if you are concerned about getting good grades.

Three courses a year is okay I think if you are not in a demanding full time job.

I hope this information is helpful.

Best

Regarding the mathematics in The Milky Way, did you get taught the maths need prior to, or along with, the course? Or do they expect you to teach yourself the suitable maths before you start studying? If so, is there any direction for this, or does it just come as a surprise? Regarding Energy, Matter and the Universe, does this course have all the physics and maths in the course notes, or did you find you had to look on the online library quite a lot?

Regarding grades, I believe in the UK, your final grade with the degree is only calculated from the Level 2 and Level 3 courses.

What would you say has been your favourite course as of yet? I'm excited to study Introduction to Cosmology.

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1 hour ago, NovaeSci said:

I've always enjoyed maths and been quite a natural at it. I nearly went for the Mathematics and Physics degree at The Open Uni. I just chose this degree as I didn't fancy spending the next 6 years studying no Astro related modules. There is maths involved in the course, but I own KA Stroud's Engineering Mathematics, which I'm working through - I believe it takes you to the end of the second year in an Engineering degree. But I also own both the Mathematical Methods books by Boas and Riley, which I intend to go on to after Stroud's textbook. So I'm positive my maths will be up to par. I'm currently about to start learning Calculus. I'll most likely buy the Open University books on eBay as well. I intend to use the 4 month summer breaks (mid-May to mid-Sept) to learn new branches of maths. I kind of want to graduate this degree with a high level of mathematical competency. I'd like to do my dissertation on Black Holes or Dark Matter; however, this may change as I study more branches of Astrophysics. 

I'm lucky as I actually do have the time alongside my job. But I guess only time will tell. It's a joy for me studying Astronomy, so never feels like work.

Great, you sound a good candidate then.  The best of luck to you.

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17 hours ago, NovaeSci said:

Regarding the mathematics in The Milky Way, did you get taught the maths need prior to, or along with, the course? Or do they expect you to teach yourself the suitable maths before you start studying? If so, is there any direction for this, or does it just come as a surprise? Regarding Energy, Matter and the Universe, does this course have all the physics and maths in the course notes, or did you find you had to look on the online library quite a lot?

Regarding grades, I believe in the UK, your final grade with the degree is only calculated from the Level 2 and Level 3 courses.

What would you say has been your favourite course as of yet? I'm excited to study Introduction to Cosmology.

The maths in the article we had to review was not covered anywhere in the course but in retrospect I think it is a rather specialized area that is probably not covered in general undergraduate courses. It was to do with Velocity Ellipsoids and digging into that takes you into deeper mathematics like Tensors also not covered in the course. But it is stated that for Level 5 modules some independent work will be needed - I personally don't think this should put you off. For the "Energy Matter and the Universe" course the maths and physics required is covered in the course materials.

My favorite course is tough to say. I liked "Introduction to Cosmology" and next probably "Energy Matter and the Universe". Even "Sun Earth and Climate" which I was initially lukewarm towards because I thought it was least astronomy related, I ended up enjoying. 

All the best.

Edited by beka
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3 hours ago, beka said:

The maths in the article we had to review was not covered anywhere in the course but in retrospect I think it is a rather specialized area that is probably not covered in general undergraduate courses. It was to do with Velocity Ellipsoids and digging into that takes you into deeper mathematics like Tensors also not covered in the course. But it is stated that for Level 5 modules some independent work will be needed - I personally don't think this should put you off. For the "Energy Matter and the Universe" course the maths and physics required is covered in the course materials.

My favorite course is tough to say. I liked "Introduction to Cosmology" and next probably "Energy Matter and the Universe". Even "Sun Earth and Climate" which I was initially lukewarm towards because I thought it was least astronomy related, I ended up enjoying. 

All the best.

Thanks again for your insight and advice. It's been very helpful :)

All the best with your future studies.

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