Painting called the Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp by Rembrandt

“The body is wiser than its inhabitants.” ― Erica Jong

Information at a Glance

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

Have you ever wondered how our bodies work? The fact is that our bodies are an amazing product of billions of years of life on earth. The building blocks of our bodies are cells, small machine like units that are more complex than any man made object. Cells are grouped together to form tissues and organ systems with specialised functions such as absorption of nutrients, uptake of oxygen, excretion of waste, movement, defence, perception. The human body is made up of 11 systems which work with each other

Although we often take our bodies for granted, just like a machine if we do not look after them they can malfunction resulting in disease such as cancer or obesity. Or factors such as genetics, viruses or bacteria can cause our bodies to stop functioning correctly.

In the past half-century there has been a revolution in the understanding of how our bodies work, with the entire human genetic code being revealed we are set for a revolution in modern medicine. This course aims to reveal what makes our bodies tick and what happens when things go wrong.  

Designed as a course for students of all ages and with different backgrounds and experiences, this course is meant as an introduction for non-specialists who have an interest in medicine and would like to understand better what appears in the press.

NB. This course is not a series of lectures but based on an interactive approach. Films, activities and discussions help to explain the body and its workings.

The following course plan is a guideline only and may well change to reflect the interests of the class.

Course Information

Course Programme

Indicative course programme (subject to possible change)

  • Week 1: What is life
  • Week 2: The parts of the human body
  • Week 3: Respiratory system
  • Week 4: Cardiovascular system
  • Week 5: Digestive system
  • Week 6: Urinary system
  • Week 7: Skeletal system
  • Week 8: Lymphatic and immune system
  • Week 9: Nervous system

** Christmas break **

  • Week 10: Muscular system
  • Week 11: Reproductive system
  • Week 12: Integumentary system
  • Week 13: Cancer
  • Week 14: Viral infections
  • Week 15: Bacterial infections
  • Week 16: Obesity and diabetes
  • Week 17: Alzheimer's and ageing
  • Week 18: How to keep your body functioning properly
  • Week 19: Modern medicine and its alternatives
  • Week 20: Genome engineering of the human body

Additional Reading

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

Your Tutor

Palmer CProfessor Chris Palmer has had a varied and interesting career working on the HIV-1 virus, yeast ion channels, the nervous system and cancer.

Chris has worked at Reading University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Columbia University, Imperial College London and currently London Metropolitan University.

His current research interests include advancing our understanding of cancer and pain. He also has interests in herbal and complementary medicine.

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. 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.

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 sent to the course tutor, Chris Palmer,

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.