Two years part-time
Two evenings a week and distance-learning
Other entry years for this course2017
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.
- In our joint submission with UCL, Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences at Birkbeck were rated sixth the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), while we achieved 100% for an environment conducive to research of the highest quality.
- We retain close links with UCL's Department of Earth Sciences, sharing expertise, facilities and events across the two institutions, including live streaming of lectures and digital lecture notes.
- We are part of the joint UCL-Birkbeck Institute of Earth and Planetary Sciences (IEPS).
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 four modules worth 15 credits each, to a total of 60 credits.
Most of our modules are taught every other year, so not every module is available every year, but all are available over the two-year period of the Graduate Certificate.
We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.
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.
International entry requirements
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.
If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.
Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.
Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)
If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.
We offer advice on all the options for financing your studies. You can pay your fees interest-free by direct debit and postgraduate loans are available for all Home/EU students.
Fees (2017/8)Part-time home/EU students: £ 2000 pa
Part-time overseas students: £ 2925 pa
Teaching and assessment
Our innovative, engaging teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments.
At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.
Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.
Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.
In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.
Methods of teaching on this course
For each taught module, you will be provided with lecture and practical material via our online learning environment, Moodle. These comprise files containing full text, diagrams and images, together with practical material to study and analyse, such as numerical databases, planetary images, and samples such as photomicrographs. You will use standard software, such as Excel and Word, and statistical software, to collate, analyse, interpret and present results pertaining to your studies.
There is an optional field class for students who have previous experience of fieldwork.
Optional Saturday sessions in petrology are available in our new petrology laboratory during term times.
Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).
Indicative class size
Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.
Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:
- academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
- written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
- numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).
Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.
Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.
Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.
Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.
Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.
Methods of assessment on this course
Each module has specific pieces of assessed coursework, which may include reports, essays, experimental results, data interpretation, oral and poster presentations, and written examinations.
As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.
Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.
Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.
Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.
Careers and employability
To help you get ahead in your career, we offer free advice and training and our recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, can connect you with employers.
Careers and employability
Graduates go in to careers in geology and postgraduate training in planetary sciences, astronomy and related fields. Graduates can pursue careers in other areas of industry or education. This degree may also be useful in becoming an astronomer, research scientist, or higher education lecturer.
Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.
We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.
How to apply
You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link below.
Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.
Application deadlines and interviews
We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.
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