Definitions

GCSE Astronomy

GCSE Astronomy

GCSE Astronomy
The Helix Nebula, viewing and learning about how nebulas are formed are in the GCSE content.
Course: GCSE Astronomy (1627)
Awarding body: Edexcel
Available: England and Wales
Ages: 14-16

GCSE Astronomy is a GCSE type qualification available to students in England and Wales, which is intended to provide a greater depth of learning in the subject of Astronomy than is given in GCSE Science syllabuses. The only examinations board to provide the course is Edexcel. The course gives a chance for students to develop different skills, such as: ICT, observation and problem solving.

Course structure

The course is comprised of the following subjects:

  • Planet Earth – the Earth, Days and seasons
  • The Moon and the Sun – the Moon, the Sun, eclipses
  • The Solar System – planets and asteroids, meteors and comets
  • Stars and galaxies – constellations, stars, galaxies
  • Observing techniques and space exploration
  • Constellation, stellariams and discoveries

Assessment

The course requires the submission of two pieces of coursework, one of which is based on observation and the other construction, or work with computers. Combined, these form 25% (each being 12.5%)of the overall mark for the course.

A two-hour written examination paper makes up the remaining 75% of the marks, which includes a wide variety of questions related to the subject. Questions commonly require mathematical calculations and diagram drawing, as well as more conventional written responses. The final examination is a mix of questions from foundation and higher levels. Questions differ in length and consist of multiple choice, short answer and long answer questions. As you progress towards the end of the paper, the questions gradually get harder. Some questions in the exam paper are marked for the quality of the written answer.

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