Astronomy and Artificial Intelligence Summer School with Public Engagement

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, both generally and within astronomy. As new, more complex models are developed and utilised in increasingly varied areas of the field, new PhD students and researchers can easily become overwhelmed with options, may not know where to begin, and might not be aware of the developments being made in research disciplines outside of astronomy.

In 2024, Canterbury Christ Church University is returning with its second STFC summer school on the use of AI in astronomy, with emphasis on an multidisciplinary approach of bringing together knowledge and researchers from different fields utilising AI, to devise solutions and create new opportunities. There is also the opportunity for attendees to participate in outreach training and a public engagement activity.

Aimed at astronomy PhD students with an interest in AI, this summer school is part of the Epistemic Insight Future of Knowledge Initiative at Canterbury Christ Church University and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The five-day programme takes place on 8-12th July at the university’s Augustine House Library, with the option for virtual attendance, and will build on the experience and success of the course ran in 2023.

Check out this video of the first summer school from 2023!

Online Event

Additionally, an online event will be held the week before on Wednesday 3rd July, with a focus on providing panel discussions and example use cases of AI in astronomy. This online event can be registered for separately to the summer school, and aims to reach a wider audience of STFC-funded astronomy PhD students (not just those attending the summer school).


Inspiration for the summer school came from our event at the Royal Society of Chemistry where experts in Astronomy, Oceanography and AI engaged in conversations about the Future of Knowledge.

We wanted to know: can bringing researchers together from different fields produce new solutions to opportunities and problems that are visible now and some we haven’t yet foreseen? Professor Berry Billingsley suggested:

Imagine a Sub – on a mission in the deepest parts of the ocean that seems to make its own decisions about where to explore and what images to record and what data to send back to the research team on shore. Or an apparently autonomous Space Probe on a mission to address humanity’s biggest mysteries – who are we, what is our purpose, are there more like us beyond our own planet? Want to see what the future might hold – these experts can help to take you there!

The Programme

Feedback from the first summer school showed that participants appreciated the value of exploring multidisciplinary perspectives and experiences of AI, being encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ and the quality of expertise and seminars. As such, the course this year will continue to provide seminars, workshops, and one-to-one conversations where the participants can learn about the role of AI in astronomy and beyond, collaborate to co-create new projects and get expert perspectives on their work. Participants will explore and gain insights in three key areas:

  • What are the roles of AI in astronomy and in the sciences more broadly?
  • What do curiosity and knowledge creation look like in a world of AI?
  • Public engagement and working with AI to engage new audiences in astronomy.

Regarding the final point, the Thursday will feature sessions on public engagement and outreach training. There will also be an opportunity for public outreach in which participants can opt to stay another night and work with us on an event for schools on the Friday, involving working with immersive tech to communicate ideas in astronomy, and assessing generative AI as a tool for creating activities and puzzles relating to your work. The video here showcases a pilot session co-created with teachers in one of our research schools.


The five-day programme runs 8-12th July at the university’s Augustine House Library, with the option for virtual attendance. Those wishing to attend in person will be provided with university accommodation next to the venue.

Monday 8th to Wednesday 10th: seminars, workshops, and one-to-one conversations for attendees to learn about the role of AI in astronomy and beyond, including attendees collaborating to co-create new projects and getting expert perspectives on their work.

Thursday 11th: training sessions on pubic engagement & outreach, including workshops and tips for creating websites, creating and presenting in videos, and editing videos with AI tools. There will also be a session on outreach for schools.

Friday 12th: outreach event on Friday for a local school, with the opportunity for summer school attendees to help out. Will include engaging presentations, interactive workshops, fun with Astronomy and AI, multidisciplinary stories, and continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities for teachers.

[PDF programme in progress.] For now, here is the programme from last year’s summer school to give a taste of what is to come!


[In Progress.]


The course this year will support face-to-face, hybrid and online engagement and will take up to 15 PhD students altogether with a maximum of ten attending in person. Any astronomy PhD students with an interest in AI are welcome to apply, whether you are just beginning your explorations into AI or already using AI in your research.

Eligibility. The summer school and online event are free for STFC-funded students. If you are not an STFC-funded student, you may still apply for the summer school but there will be a fee of £590. The online event is only available to STFC-funded students and those attending the summer school, though material from the event will be made public a week or so after the summer school.

To register for the summer school or the online event, please contact us at Summer school attendees will automatically have access to the online event without the need for separate registration.

Please provide the following information:

  • Your full name & pronouns.
  • Your associated university and if you are STFC-funded.
  • Do you wish to register for the summer school or just the online event?

If registering for the summer school, please provide the following additional information:

  • Your reasons for applying.
  • Do you wish to attend in-person or remotely?
  • Do you wish to participate in the public engagement training on Thursday and the outreach event on Friday?


About Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church is a modern multi-campus university with around 15,000 students and 1,800 staff.

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Situated on a World Heritage Site, our Canterbury campus offers great facilities, you can step out into a vibrant and world-famous cathedral city while benefitting from excellent learning and teaching resources, music venues, a super sports centre, a well-stocked bookshop and plenty of coffee bars and places to eat.

Our multi-million-pound investment over the last decade on new and renovated buildings is part of our commitment to providing a first-class student experience. Developments started with the creation of a stunning creative arts building, followed by a major facility for science, technology, health, engineering and medicine.


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