Plants and their products are important not just as staple foods but also increasingly as biofuels, bioplastics and medicines, and even for catching criminals and in combating climate change. Science: plants and people is one of a series of 100-hour flexible online courses introducing fascinating topics in science. It allows you to learn about this topic just for interest and enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to further study. You can register and begin this course at any time and will have at least 6 months to complete it.
Plants form the basis of all life on Earth. There is an astonishing variety of uses that plants are put to by humans, but these uses, as well as climate and environmental changes, can threaten the very survival of many plants. This course aims to demonstrate the reliance humans have on plants and their products, while pointing out the challenges that plant life currently faces.
Through a range of topics that look at some of the most interesting aspects about plants, the course explores the crucial role that plants play in our everyday lives. Plants and their products provide the staple foods for all humans, and they are becoming increasingly important as biofuels and medicines. They can even have a role in catching criminals and combating climate change. The potential use of genetically modified staple crops for feeding an increasing world population, the techniques of micropropagation and modern ways of cultivating plants on different scales are also covered. The course also discusses the potential health-related benefits of plants and their products, including looking at the world’s favourite drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol, and at the botanical aspects of the drug marijuana. Finally, the importance of conserving the diversity of our natural heritage – in the UK and globally – is set in both a historical context and a vision for the future.
The core of the course is a richly illustrated ebook, Why People Need Plants. This has been written in four thematic parts by experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and The Open University. A series of online video and audio clips present some topical issues. Through a practical activity you’ll investigate the basis of flower and leaf colour. Specially-written OU study materials provide additional background science. They also guide you through Why People Need Plants and the other components, with interesting questions and activities to help your understanding and to develop scientific skills.
Demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, language, concepts and principles relating to plants. In particular you should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:
This programme requires students to demonstrate proficiency in English.
The course is designed for people who are new to the subject area and although a little basic knowledge of general science would be useful, all you need is an interest in plants and the benefits that they bring to the world. You’ll have to understand some basic science, such as biology and chemistry, in order to do this. If you have read popular books and magazines on the subject, you will find the course develops your understanding and introduces topics that you have not met before.
Check the programme website for information about funding options.
StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.
Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, StudyPortals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.