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The Universe at Your Fingertips

Learn about the cutting-edge cosmology and gravitation research at the university

Credits: 20 Level 4 credits

Mode of study: additional part-time online study, to run alongside degree and other main courses

Notional hours: 200 hours

Level: suitable for undergraduate and postgraduate students of all year groups



The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth is a world-leading centre for research in astrophysics. At the ICG, astronomers use physics to study the Universe and the Universe itself to study basic physics.

Members of the ICG study the explosions of stars, the formation and evolution of galaxies, the interplay between supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, exotic models of gravity, the nature of dark energy, and the very first moments of the Universe.

Module overview

This module will introduce you to the cutting-edge research carried out at the ICG and the basic concepts in physics and astronomy that underpin it. What are stars and how do they shine? What is our place in the Milky Way Galaxy and how does it relate to other galaxies? What are dark matter and dark energy? What happens inside black holes? How did the Universe begin and how will it end?

If you ever looked up at the stars in the night sky and asked yourselves any of these questions, this distance learning module will provide you with answers.

Module credits

Module credits will be earned by taking part in weekly discussion boards. Each week, you will be asked a question about that week’s subject. Together with your fellow students, you will suggest and debate possible answers to these questions.

You will be assessed based on the number and quality of your posts, and by the way you interact with your peers. This is not just a way to assess your participation in the module but also a way to introduce you to the collaborative way in which science is done: not by lone geniuses cloistered in locked-off labs but through lively debate between colleagues spread all over the world.

This is also a way for you to meet and connect with fellow students from across the university who may be studying towards different degrees but who share a common interest in astronomy.

Note that this is a standalone additional module - the credits do not count towards your degree course, but they are a way to demonstrate valuable additional skills and attributes.


  • Online short module over 12 weeks (11 active weekly sessions and 1 consolidation week)
  • Course leaders: Or Graur


Pass/fail - no grading

  • Students will be assessed based on their activity on the module’s message boards
  • Students will be expected to open a thread of their own each week, as well as take part in other students’ threads - each discussion board will be open for two weeks at a time
  • Students' activity will have to demonstrate the learning outcomes of the module