Life: What Is It, Where Does it Come From and Where is it Going?

Ref: C3742934

The findings of modern biology challenge many of our most cherished assumptions about life as a special, privileged domain and they undermine the view of humans as a species endowed with unique properties occupying a central place in the natural world. This course will introduce the key ideas of modern biology and explore the implications for the understanding of life, our selves and the future of our species. Topics to be presented and discussed will include; difficulties with defining life, what living things are made of and how do they ‘work’, cells and tissues, change and evolution, origins of life, possibilities of life on other worlds, how individuals age and die, threats and opportunities for the human species and how life itself may become extinct. We will look at specific organisms drawn from the microbial, plant and animal kingdoms to see how the live, how they differ and how they interact to make up the complicated web of life on earth.

Course aim

To explore the most important ideas in biology and to discuss their implication for our understanding of ourselves and other living things, including the origin, evolution and extinction of life.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • know and explain some key definitions and concepts in biology.
  • Have an appreciation and be able to describe some features of the scientific method, including the role of observations, idea generation and hypothesis testing
  • Participate and contribute to group discussions about the value and meaning of some important ideas in biology.
  • Locate and access sources of knowledge and information about biology, including from books, magazines, websites and other electronic formats.
  • Appreciate how the findings of modern biology may have an influence and impact on traditional cultural values and beliefs and discuss this impact in class.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Suggestions for readings that deepen or broaden some aspects of the course will be given, but these are purely optional and they are not required to follow, or understand the course material.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • Discussion will be an important part of the course and there will be ample time given for questions from students, feedback and opportunities to check understanding.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • There are many opportunities for further study of life sciences and pursuit of varied careers in applied life sciences. An overview of these will be presented during the course.

Download full course information sheet

Life: What Is It, Where Does it Come From and Where is it Going?


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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