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Biological science-From Genes to Species, Short Course

  • Application Deadline
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University rank #501 (WUR) Online
This Biological science-From Genes to Species module at The Open University UK explores a range of advanced topics in biological science from evolution to cell and molecular biology.


What you will study in the Biological science-From Genes to Species course at The Open University UK

Biology encompasses all aspects of the study of living things from their ecology and behaviour, physiology and anatomy, through to their cell biology and molecular composition. 

You will learn about biological processes operating at different levels - molecular, cellular, organismal and species – and explore key concepts and research methodologies in these areas. The module is presented as a series of eight topics, alongside which is a closely-related Research Skills strand.

  • Topic 1: Species and SpeciationHere you will consider the enormous diversity of life on Earth and how it has arisen. You will learn about some of the difficulties in defining species as well as current thinking on the mechanisms of speciation.
  • Topic 2: Evolutionary MechanismsIn this Topic you will study the mechanisms of evolution, examining the processes responsible for the diversity of living things. You will consider how variation in populations, which is necessary for evolution to occur, is studied and how it changes over time.
  • Topic 3: Origin of VariationWith the exception of some viruses, the genomes of all organisms on Earth are composed of DNA. Changes in DNA in individuals are the source of variation in a population, which allows evolution to occur. Here you will learn about how and why changes in DNA occur, and the effect of environmental influences on variation. You will also engage with case studies that illustrate how the molecular basis of variation is studied experimentally.
  • Topic 4: Genomes and genome evolutionThe genomes of different species differ considerably in their content and structure. Considering that all life on Earth is believed to originate from a common ancestor which existed over 3.5 billion years ago, a great amount of genome evolution must have occurred to give rise to the diversity of present day species. 
  • Topic 5: Gene expression and its control<>Whilst the characteristics of an organism are determined by its genome, the expression of its component genes varies. Whether or not particular genes are expressed in a particular cell, and the level of their expression, are determined by a variety of control mechanisms. 
  • Topic 6: Controlling cell behaviourAll organisms, whether unicellular or multicellular, need to respond to their ever-changing environment in order to survive and flourish. In this topic, you will learn about some of the fundamentals of cell signalling - how cells detect and respond to physical changes and chemical cues occurring around and within them. 
  • Topic 7: Life and Death of the CellThis topic takes a look at fascinating biological processes that occur at the beginning and end of the life of a cell. Cell death is a crucial aspect of life, and without cell death organisms would not develop or function correctly. Here you will focus largely on a form of programmed cell death known as apoptosis. 
  • Topic 8: Development, morphogenesis and ageingIn this topic, you will move from considering processes purely at the cellular level to relate these processes to what happens at the level of the whole organism. You will begin by focussing on the mechanisms that orchestrate embryonic development in multicellular organisms, before turning to the factors that influence the life span of different organisms, and to those that result in their biological ageing. 

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Deadline and start date Application deadline and start date were not specified by the programme.
  • Programme intensity Full-time
  • Credits
    60 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode

Programme Structure

You will have a tutor who will help you with your studies and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Tuition will be delivered online and will include tutorials delivered specifically to your tutor group as well as sessions available to all students studying the module. The former will be delivered by your allocated tutor whereas the latter will be delivered by a series of tutors and other academics.

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Academic Requirements

This is an OU level 3 module and you need to have a good knowledge of biology, obtained through level 1 and 2 study with the OU, or with another higher education institution. Students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully and get most enjoyment and satisfaction out of the module.

Tuition Fee


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