Where Can I Find Free Online Biology Courses?
You can find free online biology courses through several accredited colleges and universities. Continue reading to learn what these courses cover and whether they have technical requirements.
What You Need to Know
Biology is a subject area included in several fields of study, including medicine, animal science, nutrition and exercise physiology. Numerous schools offer free online biology courses in a non-credit format. Requirements for these courses typically are minimal, with most requiring that you have a PDF reader and some form of multimedia viewing software, such as Adobe Flash Player. For these non-credit courses, assignments, papers, and quizzes are sometimes included, but will not be viewed or graded by a professor.
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley offers free videos of all 39 course lectures from its General Biology course through a webcast system.
What Does the Course Cover?
The course focuses on cell structure and genetics. Topics covered include cell membranes, metabolism, DNA replication and cellular mitosis. You'll also learn about the body's circulatory, respiratory and immune systems.
Are There Any Technical Requirements?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Originally offered to undergraduates, courses such as Anthropology of Biology and Introductory Biology are now available through the institution's OpenCourseWare (OCW) program. Materials for these online, non-credit courses are available through multiple mediums, including portable document format (PDF) files, Web page links, and multi-media content (which will require QuickTime).
What Can I Learn?
The Anthropology of Biology class combines social science with biology to examine how 20th century innovations have changed our perceptions about which characteristics of life are biological and which are cultural. Study topics include cloning, stem cell research, artificial insemination and genetically modified foods.
Course lectures for the Introductory Biology course cover cellular structure, genetics and mitosis. You could also study topics in cellular oncology, virology and immunology.
What Assignments Will I Complete?
For many MIT OCW courses, you can download PDF files of problem sets, practice quizzes, recitations and their solutions. A practice final exam may also be included, although solutions are not.
Some courses, however, are based more on research papers than quizzes. For example, assignments for Anthropology of Biology consist of three, 7-page papers on selected topics. You may choose to discuss how scientific journal articles are presented in the popular media, compare and contrast methods for classifying humans and animals, or present your thoughts on a topic of your choice. Because this is a non-credit course, your work will not be graded.
What Materials Are Provided?
MIT often includes links to some of the reading materials, while other readings may not be available due to copywrights on texts. The Introductory Biology course includes access to lectures in the form of transcripts, videos and audio files. The paper assignments for Anthropology of Biology include completed sample papers.