[REMINDER] Free online course: Introduction to Genetics and Evolution – new session starts Oct 10


Next session: Oct 10th 2012 (10 weeks long)
Workload: 5-6 hours/week 
This was originally posted on the old RDF website a couple months ago. 

About the Course

Introduction to Genetics and Evolution gives interested people a very basic overview of the principles behind these very fundamental areas of biology.  We often hear about new “genome sequences,” commercial kits that can tell you about your ancestry (including pre-human) from your DNA or disease predispositions, debates about the truth of evolution, and why animals behave the way they do.  This course provides the basic biology you need to understand all of these issues better and tries to clarify some misconceptions.  No prior coursework is assumed.

About the Instructor(s)

Dr. Mohamed Noor is the Earl D. McLean Professor and Associate Chair of Biology at Duke University.  His expertise is in molecular evolution, and a large part of his research has been devoted to trying to understand the genetic changes that ultimately lead to the formation of new species. More recently, his research team has used fruit fly species to understand the causes and evolutionary consequences of variation in rates of genetic recombination/ exchange. 

Dr. Noor has received several awards for research, teaching, and mentoring, and has been active in the scientific community, including serving as president of the American Genetic Association, chair of the NIH study section in Genetic Variation and Evolution, and editor of the journal Evolution.

Course Syllabus

  • Evidence for evolution
  • Introduction to basic genetics
  • Recombination and genetic mapping simple traits
  • Complications to genetic mapping
  • Genes vs. environment
  • Basic population genetics and Hardy-Weinberg
  • Gene flow, differentiation, inbreeding
  • Natural selection and genetic drift
  • Molecular evolution
  • Evolutionary applications and misapplications
  • Adaptive behaviors and species formation

Recommended Background

No prior coursework is assumed.

continue to source article at coursera.org


  1. Signed up for this when it was first announced….even reread Jerry Coyne’s WEIT. Have heard nothing about when the course is about to start.

  2. I got the email last week. Quite looking forward to it, as long as it doesn’t take up too much of my time.
    Last time I read through it, the course seemed a little too structured for my liking — almost to the point of negating the benefits of e-learning — but we shall see how it goes.

  3. Course starts Oct 10th per my email.  I majored in biology and have a great many textbooks around the house.  I’m using this familiar course as tester for Coursera’s model.  They seem like they are set up with good intentions.  I’m just wondering how the implementation will pan-0ut.  If all goes well I’ll jump in on some of their other courses.  

  4. Signed up, but not sure if this is a live class or one that can be watched when available time allows.

  5. Only spotted these courses last week and signed up for this one and a philosophy one in January. As far as online learning goes, the info is a little sketchy, ie how to produce and send (even if do send) essays. How is the exam taken, online, attendance centre? I’ve asked these questions in email, and also one about not being able to set up a profile, but no answer over three working days. For free, I suppose you get what you pay for, so I’m interested to find out what they are like, especially affliated with such universities.

  6. I’m taking this course. For anyone who still is reluctant to accept evolution as fact, almost discrediting it as ‘just a theory’ (Many in my country, Pakistan, have this attitude, for their correct understanding that accepting it as a fact will be a death-blow to their Allah, who made the first man Adam from clay and from his rib he created Eve), the first week lecture videos will be very helpful. The course is getting a bit technical lately, but I’m so much into it nevertheless. Knowing how evolution works has a profound impact on one’s correct understanding of human behavior and societies, their beliefs, taboos and everything else. It also helps one dispense with the human-centric view of life, that is a distructive, wrong view. Though the course has been running for three weeks now, you can benefit from it even though you’re not actually interested in getting certificate. Go on and enjoy!

  7. Please note that a 2nd iteration of this course is starting on 4th Jan.  I took the original course & in my view, it was an excellent intro to many aspects of Genetics & Evolution.

    There were a few tiresome creationists on it, but most of them gave up after the 1st week, which in some ways is a pity, as if they had stuck with it, they could potentially have gained more than most.

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