Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Planetary Sciences

Planetary Science is an exciting area of study, as new data returning from current planetary probes and rovers expands and deepens our understanding of the geology of other planets. If you have an undergraduate degree in earth sciences or geology, but want to increase your knowledge of planetary sciences, then this course will bring you up to date with developments in the field. The specialist knowledge you acquire could help you change career, or build a career within the planetary sciences and education, or enable you to progress onto doctoral research at PhD level. You will be taught by academics who are actively engaged in cutting-edge planetary research that is expanding the boundaries of knowledge. We cover planetary surfaces and remote sensing, volcanic activity on Earth and other planets, the nature of comets, asteroids and meteorites, and the internal structure and origin of planets, as well as offering advanced modules in astronomy, scientific computing, and the design of, and participation in, an analogue field mission. You can choose from a range of modules and put together a programme that matches, expands and deepens your particular interests. The course can be taken via distance-learning or face-to-face evening study.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold a BSc degree in geology, earth sciences, geological sciences, or equivalent, and have a basic knowledge of the architecture of the Solar System.

Those wishing to enrol on the Field Class for Planetary Science module must have some previous experience of fieldwork at undergraduate level.

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course modules

There are no core or compulsory modules: you choose from a range of advanced option modules from the final year of our BSc Planetary Science with Astronomy. You choose 4 modules worth 15 credits each, to a total of 60 credits. Option modules: Advanced Topics in Planetary Science; Comets, Asteroids and Meteorites; Exploration and Modelling of Planetary Interiors; Field Class for Planetary Science; Physical Principles of Astronomy; Remote Sensing and Planetary Surfaces; Scientific Computing and Data Modelling; Volcanism in the Solar System . Most of our modules are taught every other year, so not every module is available every year, but all are available over the 2-year period of the Graduate Certificate.

Assessment methods

Each module has specific pieces of assessed coursework, which may include reports, essays, experimental results, data interpretation, oral and poster presentations, and written examinations.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
Graduate Certificate Part-time October 2018 - 2 Years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus WC1E 7HX London

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Key information

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
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