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Free course

An introduction to exoplanets

Free statement of participation on completion
An introduction to exoplanets
An introduction to exoplanets

What are the planets outside our Solar System like? Could there be life on them?

Learn about this fascinating area of twenty-first century science in this exciting free course, An introduction to exoplanets

The course introduces our Galaxy's population of planets, and some of their many surprises. It explains the methods used by astronomers to study exoplanets, and provides a general introduction to the methods of scientific inquiry. The course culminates in discussion of life elsewhere in our Galaxy.


This OpenLearn science course was produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation.

This course is accredited by the CPD Standards Office. It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development and on successful completion of the course you will be awarded 24 CPD points. Evidence of your CPD achievement is provided on the free Statement of Participation awarded on completion.

Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation.

Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation - which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

An introduction to exoplanets

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • discuss planets, exoplanets, stars, galaxies and the Universe
  • describe the various types of planets in terms of their size and comparison
  • understand how astronomers detect and study exoplanets, and appreciate the limitations to the knowledge we have
  • describe the characteristics of some particularly interesting exoplanets, and know a little about the Galaxy's history of planet formation
  • summarise the current ideas about the likelihood of life and complex life elsewhere in the Galaxy.

First Published: 09/03/2017

Updated: 08/01/2020

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