Cultural Astronomy and Astrology (MA) - FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
The Cultural Astronomy and Astrology MA is unique and exciting online programme. When you join our programme you will be joining an international community from every continent. You will have the opportunity to study up to 6 modules at a pace that suits you.
Frequenty Asked Questions
This is a personal judgment call. We have found that part-time students have more time to enjoy their studies and may have a richer experience, while full-time students feel that their period on the MA was rushed. In addition if you have extensive family commitments, or are working to support yourself, or do not have recent academic experience, you would, in any case, always be recommended to study part-time. If you wish to study full-time you should make sure that your personal and professional commitments for the period of study are at a minimum.
It is possible to alter your registration from full-time to part-time, or from part-time to full-time. Also, even if you are registered part-time, it is possible to take more modules in order to speed your path through the MA.
No. All course material is on-line and there is no need to come to the UK. Students study from home as part of our connected ‘Cloud Campus’.
Tutor-student interaction takes place via e-mail and video-conferencing. We make use of Skype, which allows for free computer-to-computer phone calls anywhere in the world. With a web cam, face-to-face tutorials are possible.
Please note that access to a broadband connection is necessary.
We may also arrange optional occasional residential or other student gatherings, as appropriate, depending on demand
Over the duration of the MA, students take six twenty-credit modules and then write a dissertation worth 60 credits. A full-time student would take two modules per term. A part-time student is expected to take at least two modules per year, and a maximum of four.
Time is a consideration for many of our students, many of whom have families and jobs. The basic requirement is that students must take two modules a year for the taught part of the MA. This equates to 400 hours of study. Each module equates to 200 hours of study over a period of around 12 weeks. So you would find yourself doing roughly half-time weeks for roughly half the year. We have a number of students who have done the MA while working full time, so we know it is manageable.
One twenty-credit module requires about 10 to 12 hours of study per week. Each module consists of eight weeks of course work plus, usually an extra two weeks to complete the final essay. Students work in their own time depending on other professional or family commitments. If you do not have recent academic experience, you may find initially that more time is required.
The amount of work per module is the same no matter whether you are studying for the Certificate, Diploma or MA. If each module is considered to require 200 hours work, so two modules a year is 400 hours, 3 modules 600 hours and so on.
The University is always willing to be flexible in the case of students in genuine need. University rules allow you to claim ‘extenuating circumstances’ if a you can show that an essay suffered because of personal pressures. You can also suspend your studies for up to a year if necessary.
Typically, all course work is posted on-line on ‘Moodle’ our web platform (which is also used by thousands of other universities) and students are given secure access to the University’s web site. Each week in each module engages with a different topic: lecture notes and course readings are posted on-line, together with other material, such as voice files and web links. Students also have access to various academic digital archives, including the extensive archives of academic journals such as JSTOR, archives which are available through the University. Students are encouraged to participate in weekly forum discussions, posting written responses to discussion questions or weekly readings.
We also hold periodic video conferencing sessions, for which a web cam and a headphone/microphone set are necessary.
Most modules are accompanied by eight video-conferencing seminars, which typically last between 1.5 and 2 hours – never more than 2 hours. Attendance is optional but recommended. These are held one day a week, usually at 4 pm UK time, which we have found is the best time when many of our students are on different time-zones. Seminars usually consist of one or two staff presentations with a chance for student question and discussion.
Online lectures are a very important part of the course, as well as being the place where you will meet your classmates and form new friendships, so we want to make sure that the software makes your experience easier and that you get the most from the course.
However, all seminars are recorded for students who are either unable to attend (for work, family or time-zone reasons), or wish to listen again.
Modules are usually arranged in eight weeks of course material. Teaching runs from the beginning of October to the beginning of December, late January/early February to late March , and late April/early May to late June/early July. Video conferencing seminar dates are announced before each term when the time table is finalised. As a guide, Introduction to Cultural Astronomy and Astrology seminars are held on Mondays and Researching Contemporary Cosmologies are held on Fridays.
You will need a broad-band connection. In addition, with a computer service such as Skype, computer-to-computer phone calls are free and, with the addition of a web-cam, free, international, face-to-face tutorials are possible. We run video-conferencing sessions which are optional, but for which you will need a web cam and headphone/microphone set.
You need a computer, but all the software you might need runs on both.
We have as much course material on line as we can, making use of digitised material and academic databases. Library facilities vary. The University operates a lending system by post, although this would not include rare books. Students in the UK and Ireland will be able to nominate three academic libraries which they can use under the SCONUL scheme. In other countries, we can write letters of recommendation if students wish to approach their local academic libraries. Many countries with public library systems can also obtain books under inter-library loan schemes. That said, it is always good to own some core books and both Amazon and Abebooks are excellent web-sources. There will be required books for some modules, but these will be available cheaply second-hand. For example, Nicholas Campion’s History of Western Astrology is required for the History module.
There is no required preparatory reading. However, if you wish to prepare yourself for the course, we would strongly advise you to read the following:
- Nicholas Campion, A History of Western Astrology Vol. 1 (The Ancient World, London: Continuum 2008) and Vol. 2 (The Medieval and Modern Worlds, London: Continuum 2009) (NB Vol. 1 was originally published as The Dawn of Astrology: A Cultural History of Western Astrology, Vol. 1, in 2008). This
- Nicholas Campion, Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions, New York: New York University Press., 2012 (This book developed out of our teaching material and is the only book to deal with astrology as a global phenomenon in cultures across the world).
- Nicholas Campion, Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2012, London: Routledge 2015). (This book is the first major investigation of what modern astrologers in the West actually think. It is available as a cheap paperback or an e-book, but you may have to go to the publishers website to buy it: (https://www.routledge.com/Astrology-and-Popular-Religion-in-the-Modern-West-Prophecy-Cosmology/Campion/p/book/9781409435143).
- Gary Phillipson, Astrology in the Year Zero, London: Flare Publications, 2000 (Gary Phillipson is one of your tutors, and he published this ground-breaking set of interviews with astrology – and critics of astrology - in 2000)
- Roy Willis and Patrick Curry, Astrology, Science and Culture: Pulling Down the Moon, Oxford: Berg, 2004 (Patrick Curry is on our teaching staff and was one of the original lecturers when the MA was set up in 2002. This book, written with the anthropologist Roy Willis, contains his arguments about the nature and cultural context of western astrology)
There are some required books or recommended books for specific modules. You will also find useful books at the Sophia Centre Press, www.sophiacentrepress.com
You may be able to transfer credits from other accredited postgraduate courses. Every case will be different. Please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.
180credits at a UK University correspond to 90 credits in the ECTS European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)** and 1 ECTS correspond to 0.5 US credit which means that a UK MA will give 45 credits. A MA in NY State is 30 credits.
*Mastersportal.eu articles 'all you need to know about the european credit system.
The simple answer is yes, although it depends on comparability of study and is at the discretion of the university in question. It is worth noting that under European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), UK credit is cut to half, so 20 UK credits are worth 10 European credits. Further information on UK-EU credit transfer, should be available via http://www.qaa.ac.uk
Credit transfer outside Europe is possible. If you are considering transferring credits outside the EU, you should make inquiries at the relevant university first. If you wish to investigate the transfer of non-UK credit to the UK, information is available via NARIC (http://www.naric.org.uk/).
In one recent case the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) accepted MA CAA credit towards a student taking one of its MAs. Acceptance of CAA credit by other universities will usually depend on individual circumstances.
The MA as a whole could be a staging post to a PhD, but you would be expected to get distinction level marks (i.e., the highest grades) in order to be considered for a PhD. PhDs are obtained by an independent, supervised research project. If you were to apply to study for a PhD after graduating from the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, we would normally expect you to have gained a Distinction in your Dissertation, although we will always take your whole progress through the MA into account. If do not have the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology we would normally expect you to have gained a Distinction in a MA Dissertation in a topic related to your proposed PhD research. For other requirements see the University’s website.