Master of Science (Astronomy) - 2017

Please note: This course has recently undergone a major change. Please refer to Transition Arrangements for more information.

Course summary

Course summary - 2017

Level: Postgraduate
Qualification: Masters Degree
Number of units: 12 units to complete

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Restrictions apply. See Eligibility.

This is a restricted course. Enrolment is only available to students who have been accepted into this course.

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Standard hours

Mon - Fri: 8am - late

Sat & Sun: 9am - 5pm

All times in Australian Eastern
Standard Time (AEST) or Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT)

These postgraduate courses in Science (Astronomy) covers the fundamental concepts and ‘big questions’ of modern astronomy. It equips students with an overall understanding of modern astronomy, rather than training as a professional astronomer.

The introductory-level units require no background mathematical knowledge and instead focus on a conceptual approach to astronomy. However, some of the more advanced-level units have prerequisites and assume knowledge of introductory tertiary level mathematics and physics.

At the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. interpret, analyse and evaluate credible resources to argue information, knowledge and critique on astronomy topics
  2. judge and apply problem solving methodologies to synthesise solutions that assess information and technical skills in astronomy
  3. apply and appraise communication skills to demonstrate an understanding of recent developments in astronomy
  4. demonstrate and appraise skills and knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to astronomy
  5. manage own time and work independently to design and construct a substantial research project work in astronomy
  6. demonstrate communication and technical skills, either individually or working as an effective member in a team to interpret and discriminate complex ideas in astronomy to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

The Master of Science (Astronomy) qualifies individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts related to contemporary astronomy. The course provides individuals with the requisite academic knowledge, science communication and independent research project skills across an extensive range of astronomy and astronomy-related fields for professional practice or scholarship, and as a pathway for further learning.

Many graduates use this qualification to begin or enhance opportunities in teaching, working in observatories, science centres and museums, and science/astronomy education, public outreach and communication positions. It should be noted that postgraduate coursework degrees in astronomy are not professional qualifications.

Academic Requirements
This program is available to students who have a recognised tertiary qualification* in a cognate discipline aligned to astronomy and/or astronomy-related fields (including natural and physical sciences, information technology, engineering and related technologies, related scientific fields in health – e.g. optical science or radiography) (or approved equivalent).

*Bachelors degree, Level 7 in Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) or equivalent. The AQF specification for the volume of learning of a Bachelor Degree is typically 3-4 years.

English Language Requirements (International students only):
Swinburne College English for Academic Purposes Certificate: EAP 5 Advanced: 70%; OR, obtaining a minimum IELTS overall band of 6.5 (Academic Module) with no individual band below 6.0; OR, a TOEFL (Paper-based) minimum score of 550 (with Test of Written English (TWE) score of 5); OR, a TOEFL (Internet-based) minimum score of 79, with no individual band below 18.

Students are expected to be computer literate and to have internet access outside of Swinburne.

Master of Science (Astronomy) students must complete 9 core units, 1 Major Project unit, and 2 prescribed electives.

There is no specific recommended study sequence; however, some units have prerequisites that need to be met. Students may choose to work their way through the nested course or enrol directly into the Masters.

Several elective units in the Graduate Diploma and Master of Science have prerequisites of university level 1 mathematics and physics. Students without university level mathematics and physics may apply for the Graduate Certificate in Science, as units in this award do not have any prerequisites.

Students without university level mathematics and physics who wish to complete the advanced units must complete MAS120 Applied Mathematics and SCI16 Introduction to Physics (or their equivalent) as non-award units before beginning the Graduate Diploma and Masters units.

Please note: You cannot re-enrol into Swinburne units that you have already passed.

Absent Without Leave and Leave of Absence: How to apply for an approved leave of absence and minimise the risk of having to reapply for degree admission:

To qualify for a Master of Science (Astronomy), a student must complete 9 core units (112.5 credit points), 1 Astronomy Major Project elective unit (12.5 credit points) and 2 prescribed electives (25 credit points).

The course is nested, incorporating a Graduate Certificate of Science (Astronomy) of 4 units and a Graduate Diploma of Science (Astronomy) of 8 units.

Please note: You cannot re-enrol into Swinburne units that you have already passed.

Custom-made course material is delivered online with accompanying downloadable PDF files. The course material includes animations and applets, as well as links to a unique set of astronomical resources. Students are not required to have access to a telescope for any units.

Total number of units to complete: 9 units Required Elective Optional
Unit name Code Provider Availability
Astrophotography & CCD Imaging
AST80002 Swinburne SP1 - - -
Cosmology and the Large-Scale Structure of the Universe
AST80003 Swinburne SP1 - - -
Exploring Stars and the Milky Way
AST80004 Swinburne SP1 - SP3 -
Exploring the Solar System
AST80005 Swinburne SP1 - SP3 -
Galaxies and their Place in the Universe
AST80006 Swinburne SP1 - SP3 -
Major Project - History of Astronomy
AST80012 Swinburne SP1 - - -
Planetary Science
AST80015 Swinburne SP1 - - -
Stellar Astrophysics
AST80016 Swinburne - - SP3 -
Tools of Modern Astronomy
AST80018 Swinburne - - SP3 -
Complete 2 units from the following 3 units Required Elective Optional
Unit name Code Provider Availability
Astrobiology and the Origins of Life
AST80001 Swinburne SP1 - - -
History of Astronomy
AST80008 Swinburne - - SP3 -
Studies in Space Exploration
AST80017 Swinburne SP1 - - -
Complete 1 unit from the following 3 units Required Elective Optional
Unit name Code Provider Availability
Major Project - Computational Astrophysics
AST80011 Swinburne - - SP3 -
Major Project - Observational Astronomy
AST80013 Swinburne - - SP3 -
Major Project - Astronomy and Astrophysics
AST80014 Swinburne Coming in 2018

Swinburne University RPL Higher Education policy applies and will be granted subject to approval of the Course Coordinator.

For information on how to apply for credit please refer to Swinburne’s website at

You can pay fees in one of two main ways:

Eligible OUA students can access the government loan scheme known as FEE-HELP. You pay back the loan through your taxes once your income reaches a minimum threshold.

Who can access it?

  • Australian citizens who will undertake, in Australia, at least one unit of study contributing to their course
  • Permanent humanitarian visa holders who will be resident in Australia for the duration of their unit
  • Permanent visa holders who are undertaking bridging study for overseas-trained professionals, and will be resident in Australia for the duration of their study

Find out more about FEE-HELP

You can pay your fees upfront - in full at the beginning of a unit - using:
  • Credit card (Visa and MasterCard)
  • Cheque
  • Money order

You should make cheques and money orders payable to 'Open Universities Australia' and send them to:
Open Universities Australia
GPO Box 5387
Melbourne 3001

Please note: This course has undergone a change due to changes in the Australian Qualification Framework. Students who started their degree prior to 2015 can continue with the pre2015 course. All students beginning their studies from 2015 will need to study the new course structure.


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