History of Astronomy

Qualification: Postgraduate unit
Study mode: Online
Payment options: FEE-HELP may be available
Duration: 13 weeks
Start date: Enquire now for upcoming start dates
Awarded by: Swinburne University of Technology
Course Unit A course unit is a single subject offered as part of a program of study, but can be completed individually. You may receive Recognition of Prior Learning for studying this unit.

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About this unit

This Open Universities Australia and Swinburne University unit offers a fascinating look into the History of Astronomy without the need for any prior knowledge of physics or astronomy. By studying this unit, you will learn about the leading theorists throughout history, including Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Descartes, and you will become familiar with their theoretical contributions to science.

The unit will take you through the social reasons for advancement of the science of astronomy, and will enable you to become aware of the development of astronomical techniques and concepts throughout history. You will consider these changes from a cross-cultural perspective as various segments of this unit will focus on Islamic, Chinese, Indian, Greek, and Roman astronomy.

You will also become familiar with the phases of progress within the field, including medieval astronomy, the Newtonian revolution, the discoveries surrounding the electromagnetic spectrum and major breakthroughs and theories of the 20th century.


To be eligible to enrol in this unit, applicants must be accepted into one of the following courses:

  • Graduate Certificate of Science(Astronomy)
  • Graduate Diploma of Science (Astronomy)
  • Master of Science (Astronomy)

Areas of study

In this astronomy unit, the topics you will study include:

  • Naked eye astronomy; archaeoastronomy; the influence of mythology
  • The development of astronomy in Mesopotamia and Egypt; constellations, the zodiac, eclipses, astrology, concepts of time
  • Natural philosophy and science in ancient Greece, Greek and Roman astronomy
  • Islamic astronomy; astronomy in Asia: Chinese and Indian astronomy
  • Medieval astronomy: the influence of Islamic science, pre-Copernicans, medieval astronomy, Copernican revolution: Brahe, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo
  • The Newtonian revolution: Descartes, Newtonian cosmology, Halley; Kant and galaxies, Herschel and Uranus, physics and astronomy after Newton
  • 19th century: discovery of Neptune, large telescopes and observatories, nebulae to galaxies, spectroscopy and astrophysics, astrophotography and photometry
  • New wavelengths: the electromagnetic spectrum, infrared radiation, the dawn of radio astronomy
  • 20th century: relativity, cosmology and the Big Bang; the shift from imaging to imagination; modern cosmology
  • Issues in history of astronomy: philosophy science and scientific method; women in astronomy; astronomical instrumentation and technological developments

Course pathways

This unit is a core requirement in the following courses:

  • Graduate Certificate of Science (Astronomy), Swinburne University
  • Graduate Diploma of Science (Astronomy), Swinburne University
  • Master of Science (Astronomy), Swinburne University

Content may also be relevant to other courses, and could qualify you for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for a course offered by another institution.

Get more information

Want more information about this unit? Fill out the enquiry form to the right and a study consultant will contact you with the details you need.

There's plenty of support on offer for OUA students. Find out more.

How will this unit advance my career?

This unit will not only provide you with a foundation of knowledge in the History of Astronomy, it will also help to develop a range of skills which are transferable across industries. You will be required to design and write an essay on a topic within astronomy, and will therefore be expected to critique credible sources of information and academic articles on the subject. This will help to develop your communication skills as well as your critical thinking and analytical skills.

How else will I benefit from this unit?

  • Upon successful completion of this unit you will receive credit for competencies in History of Astronomy from Swinburne University.
  • Studying online means you can study where you want, at your own pace.
  • Gain industry-relevant skills and transferable knowledge.
  • Government financial support through FEE-HELP may be available.
  • Studying single units allows you the flexibility to work towards a qualification at your own pace.
  • Receive Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for this unit across a number of OUA's full degree programs.

Get more information

Want more information about the career benefits of this unit? Fill out the enquiry form to the right and a study consultant will contact you with the details you need.

Financial assistance

If you are an Australian citizen, you may be eligible to receive a government FEE-HELP loan, meaning you can defer payment of your fees.


Get more information

Want more information about financial and student support? Fill out the enquiry form to the right and a study consultant will contact you with the details you need.

You may be eligible to receive FEE-HELP for this course!

This course can be paid for through the FEE-HELP government loan scheme. If you are an Australian citizen or hold a permanent humanitarian visa, this means you don’t need to pay upfront.

Instead, the Australian government will pay your course fees on your behalf. You’ll begin repaying your loan through the tax system once you start earning more than the minimum threshold of $54,869 (2016-17 income year).

Find out more about government study loans here.
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Get more information

Want more information about the career benefits of this course?
Fill out the enquiry form to the right and a study consultant will contact you with the details you need.

FREE CALL 1800 063 523

Monday to Friday: 8am - late
Saturday and Sunday: 9am - 5pm

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