Cultural Astronomy and Astrology

iHumanities Distance Learning

Fascinating programmes

Every one of us has looked up at the night sky and marvelled at its beauty, immenseness and elegant order. An illuminated night sky gives us an insight into just how small we are in comparison to the scale of the universe.  For millennia celestial phenomena have played a central role in the formation of human beliefs. Indeed, the study of space, stars, planets, galaxies and comets has allowed us to develop cosmological theories that not only explain natural phenomena but are an important source of meaning and value too.

The unique MA programme in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at UWTSD offers you the opportunity to explore the ways in which humans through history have drawn on the skies to explain their place in the world. Alternatively, the MA in Ecology and Spirituality explores the relationship between spirituality, religion, and philosophy on the one hand, and ecology and environmental issues on the other.

Cosmology and culture

Cultural Astronomy enquires into with the ways in which human beings attribute meaning to the planets, stars and skies, and construct cosmologies which provide the basis for culture and society. Such an enquiry is a multidisciplinary endeavour which draws on insights from Archaeology, Philosophy, Anthropology, and History. As a distance-learner, you’ll engage in this fascinating discipline from the comfort of your own home.

Here’s a taster of what to expect from an online seminar…

Moon over sea

Star gazing and celestial distinctions

The split between astronomy and astrology is a feature of modern western thought. Astronomy is the scientific study of the physical universe. Astrology, meanwhile, is the practice of relating the heavenly bodies to lives and events on earth.

Interdisciplinary connections: poetry, myth, and philosophy

The work of Homer and Hesiod (two ancient Greek poets), in attributing organisation and control or the cosmos to the gods, offers some of the earliest Western cosmologies, as does the work of the Pre-Socratic philosophers for whom the universe could no longer be explained by talk of the gods and mythological ideas (even though atheism is effectively unknown in antiquity). For such philosophers, the cosmos and its features were involving interactions between natural phenomenon. But both the ancient Greek poets and philosophers were observers of the natural world and used their observations of celestial bodies to inform their cosmologies.

Anaximenes (Pre-Socratic philosopher), fl. c545BCE:

said that the first principle is infinite air, from which what is coming into being and what has come into being and what will exist and gods and divinities come into being… The form of the air is this: when it is most uniform it is invisible, but it is made apparent by the hot and the cold and the moist and the moving… and winds… are condensed air, and cloud is produced from air… when it is more condensed it is water, when still further condensed it is earth, and when it is as dense as possible it is stones”

(Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies).

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes…

We are all creatures of the universe: every atom in our bodies has passed through three stars – we are literally star dust. Our postgraduate programmes enable you to explore our emotional, spiritual, and physical relationships with the cosmos. Moreover, our Cultural Astronomy and Astrology MA is unique in that it is the only accredited university degree in the world to explore the human relationship with the sky through history and culture. 

And our flexible study options mean that you can take a programme that best suits your needs and interests. Options other than the full MA include:

  • Occasional student (take one MA module)
  • Postgraduate Certificate (two MA modules)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (four MA modules)

The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture

Our programmes are delivered as part of the work of Sophia Centre, and research and teaching centre at UWTSD.

“The work of the Centre is as broad as possible and the MA syllabus is ground-breaking, unique and innovative. We study the many ways in which human beings endow the cosmos with value and use the sky as a theatrical backdrop to tell stories and create meaning”

Dr Nicholas Campion, Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture

You’ll be part of this vibrant centre of research as well as part of an online community of like-minded students and scholars from all over the world.

UWTSD Lampeter Quad

Want to find out more?

For further information, why not contact us today and speak to our friendly staff.