Graphic design showing three heads

“It ought to be generally known that the source of our pleasure, merriment, laughter and amusement, as of our grief, pain, anxiety and tears, is none other than the brain.” – Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BCE).

Information at a Glance

  • Evening Class
  • Thursdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • 2 hours taught time per week
  • Tutor: Angela Richards
  • Fees from £210 to £395
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington Campus

This course is now full, but if you would like information on future opportunities to join this and other courses, please join our mailing list.

As indicated above, at least as far back as Hippocrates, our species has been fascinated with the brain. By the time we are born, we have on average about 86 billion brain cells which get pruned down during adulthood.

This is a beginners’ course for those with little or no knowledge about the brain or science who wish to be introduced to the basic principles of brain functioning using the lenses of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience.

In this evening course programme, we will delve into the inner workings of this fascinating organ- the brain. We will start with considering distinctions between psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience before embarking on a journey of the building blocks of the brain.  We will explore questions such as what is the brain; how it functions, how it is affected by what we do, and what can happen when something goes wrong? Even a basic understanding of the brain can affect the way we live our lives and view the world, which has the potential to impact on aspects of physical health and mental wellbeing. This course aims to give you an insight into the brain’s intricacies in a way that is accessible, interesting, and relatable to all. 

The course is not lecture based, though some formal teaching will be included, and will be taught in an interactive manner. In addition to tutor input, you will get the opportunity to discuss your own ideas and experiences with a variety of people in your course, learn from each other, and take part in tasks and games that will build your understanding of each topic.

For example, can a statement such as "I think therefore I am" (Descartes) provide insight into the brain's functions or how can a game of dominoes help us understand chemical networks in the brain?  With a gentle exposure to specialist topics such as language, memory, consciousness and disease, you will be able to explore such questions and other ones that you might be curious about

We will start with considering distinctions between psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience before embarking on a journey of the building blocks of the brain.  We will aim to build an understanding of what the brain is and how it works before covering a range of specialist topics across the disciplines of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience.

Course Information

Course Programme




Introductions; Overview of the course; Neuroscience, Psychology and Psychiatry:

What’s the difference?


Basic anatomy of the brain.


Elaborated brain anatomy and localising functions.


The mystery of the nerve impulse and chemicals in the brain (neurotransmission):

Brain networks.


What’s in there? Physical tools used to investigate the brain (neuroscience).



What’s in there? Psychiatric and psychological tools used to measure and assess

 emotional and cognitive brain functioning.


The mind vs the brain: what is consciousness?


Mental illness: causes and effects.


Child to adult: how the brain develops (neurodevelopment).


-- Christmas break --


Learning, intelligence and getting better at things.


Language: how humans communicate.


Do you have a “good memory”?


When things go wrong: dementia and other diseases (neurodegenerative disorders).


Anxiety and performing under pressure.


Brain surgery and brain injury: stories you won’t believe.


Around the world: the brain in other cultures and contexts (cultural neuroscience).


The brain on the couch: why therapy works (or doesn’t).


Bad science and the ethics of neuroscience (neuroethics).


My heroes of the brain.


The existential brain: mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

This timetable is provisional and may be subject to alteration both before and during the course.

Additional Reading

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.

Your Tutor

Dr Angela Richards’ compulsion to find out about the brain was fuelled by a psychology degree. She then went on to conduct research on memory in animals before her psychology doctorate and later an MSc in clinical neuroscience. Angela has taught to a variety of students in academic institutions including Birkbeck University, City University, Open University, Oxford University, Queen Mary University and Roehampton University.  She has relevant professional memberships including the British Psychological Society, the British Neuroscience Association, Higher Education Association and is a state registered health practitioner (HCPC). Additional training has included NLP and mindfulness (under Professor Mark Williams, Oxford University), and she has recently become curious about VR and machine learning in clinical and mental health.  Her main interest is in neurodegenerative disorders, especially dementia, an area in which her involvement in a community project contributed to a finalist place for an Alzheimer’s Society Award.  

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 40  20  £395    (Early Bird Rate: £360*) £230    (Early Bird Rate: £210*)
£305    (Early Bird Rate: £280*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October   |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends of the South London Botanical Institute
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started, subject entirely to agreement by the tutor delivering the course. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the  before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer term
 40  20 14 Oct - 12 Dec 2019 (9 weeks)* 6 Jan - 19 Mar 2020 (11 weeks) n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 1 August

Enrolment & payment are through the Imperial College eStore. Please use above booking link noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on this page and your applicable category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details before your course choice and applicant details are queried on an in-built questionnnaire which completes the process
  • The following email notifications will be sent
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms your payment, date of payment and order number
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment receipt and therefore does not show your course however these details are sent to us via the system
2. Enrolment confirmation Sent in due course but likely not before the end of September. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Confirms your course choice
  • Shows the programme your course is part of as well as the term dates
  • Confirms your course' day of the week & time
3. Programme information Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains further course details incl. classroom location and teacher contact information
  • Provides further general programme details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Certificate of Attendance

Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% (16) of the taught classroom sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed to the course tutor, Dr Angela Richards,

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.