Understanding Science: An Introduction to Science
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." - Albert Einstein
At a Glance
- Online Course
- Wednesdays 18:00 - 20:00
- 20 weeks: October to March
- 2 hours weekly online taught time
- Tutor: Linda van Keimpema
- Fees from £220 to £410
- Award: Imperial College Attendance Certificate (T&Cs apply)
- Book from 15 August
Science is everywhere: it allows you to make a nice warm cup of tea, to see all the objects around you, and to cross water by walking over a bridge. Science also holds our galaxy together, it makes the laws that drive biodiversity, and describes the nature of subatomic particles - the building blocks of everything. Diving into the diversity and beauty of science will bring you an adventurous ride full of knowledge and surprises.
This course, Introduction to Science, aims to give you just a taste for that adventure, as we travel through the entirety of scientific understanding (or at least as much as we can fit in). Starting with the cosmos, we will travel through our universe and discuss all the objects we meet on the way. Landing on Earth we will learn about the ever changing aspects of our planet, and how Earth can support life. We will learn about the chemical building blocks of life, discover how our genetics determines who we are, see how our body works and can be improved using modern medicine, and explore how the knowledge of mathematics, artificial intelligence, and applied sciences shaped the modern world.
Each week we will explore a new topic, as well as discussing the science that is going on in the world around us and how we think that science will affect our future. If you have ever wanted to learn more about science and the way everything works, join us for what promises to be an exciting ride!
No prior knowledge of science is required, just an inquisitive mind!
This is a live-taught online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course delivery'.
Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.
The following is the syllabus for the 10-week course currently being advertised for our Summer School programme (late July to late September). For the 20-week course starting in October an adapted version of below syllabus will be posted here in due course. Please revisit this page soon for updated information.
Session 1: The Universe
In this session we will learn about the universe. We will discuss the origin of the universe, and how stars, galaxies and exoplanets were born. We will take a close look at our Solar System, and discuss the amazing features of individual planets. This session will also touch upon some laws of Physics which are important on the scale of the universe. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and a small experiment.
Session 2: Geology
In this session we will learn all about the planet we live on. We will discuss the timeline of Earth and how our planet changed over the billions of years it has been around. We will discuss the structure of the Earth and how plate tectonics lead to earth quakes and volcanoes. We will take a close look at the weather on Earth in present, past, and future. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and group discussions.
Session 3: Quantum Physics and Chemistry
In this lesson we will learn about elementary particles, which ones there are and how they make up everything around us. We will discuss how atoms can form into molecules and discuss laws of physics which work on a subatomic scale. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and a small experiment.
Session 4: Evolution
In this session we will learn how life started on Earth. From there, we will follow the route of evolution and discover how it led to the enormous variety of species which have been present on the Earth. We will see how species evolved - or became extinct - and ultimately how humans have evolved. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and small group discussions on the future of humanity.
Session 5: Genetics and diversity
In this lesson we will learn everything about the genetic code of life: DNA. We will discover how DNA contains the information to make the proteins which are essential in your body. We will dive into how the DNA can be changed over generations and causes diversity of a species. Finally we will discuss revolutionary techniques to modify organisms. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and small group discussions.
Session 6: Human body and medicine
In this session we will learn how the human body develops, and the organs and structures which are present in the human body. We will discuss different diseases, how they are caused and how they can be prevented. We will learn how our own immune system can prevent us from getting sick, and how sometimes our immune system is not working optimally. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and small group discussions.
Session 7: Neuroscience
In this session we will learn how our brain influences our every move, and how our brain detects all our experiences and can store this information. We will discuss how the brain is build up and how individual brain cells work together. Finally we will discuss how the brain is involved in learning and memory. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and if conditions allow a small demonstration.
Session 8: Maths and computers
In this session, we will discuss the history and important discoveries in mathematics. We will learn how computers work, and how complex systems are used to develop an artificial intelligence. We will talk about how AI helps us to live our lives, and how this will influence our future. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and small group discussion.
Session 9: Applied sciences
We will take a look how the knowledge of different sciences has impacted and improved modern life. We will learn how electricity and magnetism works, and how the combination of electricity and magnetism is used in different modern techniques. We will look at different types of transport, and how transport has changed in the past, present and how it might look in our future. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, including short exercises about the content and small group discussion.
Session 10: Scientific breakthroughs
In this session, we will discuss what it takes to be a scientist. We will look at some of the most impactful scientists and how their work has changed our understanding of the world around us. We will discuss together which field of science has made the most progress, and which fields are very promising to further advance human life in the future. The session will be a digital tutor-led slide lecture, and an extended discussion in small groups.
There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.
Your tutor will be Dr Linda van Keimpema who completed a PhD into molecular neuroscience and has taught biology, physics, mathematics and other science-related topics at VU University in Amsterdam and at Kaplan International College in London. She is a strategic teaching fellow at the Faculty of Medicine of Imperial College London.
All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.
This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.
Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.
We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.
All courses lasting two hours have a 10 minute break in the middle. For one hour courses there is no break.
Course Fees and Rate Categories
|Hours||Weeks||Standard Rate||Internal Rate||Associate Rate|
|40||20|| £410 (Early Bird Rate: £370*)
||£240 (Early Bird Rate: £220*)||£320 (Early Bird Rate: £290*)|
|* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October only | All fee rates quoted are for the whole 2-term course.|
Rate Categories and Discounts
- Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org before completing the online enrolment form.
- 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)
It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. 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.
|Hours||Weeks||Autumn term||Spring term||Summer term||Summer School|
|40||20||19 Oct - 18 Dec 2020 (9 weeks)* PLUS||11 Jan - 26 Mar 2021 (11 weeks)||n/a||n/a|
|* Followed by the Christmas break|
Web enrolment starts 15 August
Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:
- Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate 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 after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
- The following email notifications are sent:
|What is sent||When is it sent||What does it contain|
|1. Payment confirmation||Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application||
|2. Enrolment confirmation||Is sent within 10 working days. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received||
|3. Programme information||Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts||
|If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756
- Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor, Dr Linda van Keimpema at email@example.com
- Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.