Online course in Health & Psychology

The Many Faces of Dementia

Gain a unique insight into dementia through the stories, symptoms and science behind four less common diagnoses.

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 2 hours
  • Certificate Available

Why join the course?

Dementia is one of the foremost priorities in global health and is estimated to affect over 44 million people worldwide. This has a huge impact on individuals and on society, so improvements in understanding, care and treatments are desperately needed.

In this free online course you’ll discover some of the key issues in dementia care and research by exploring four less common forms of dementia through the eyes of people affected by the condition, and world-leading experts at UCL. We’ll show how research into the signs, stages, symptoms and causes of less common forms can bring us closer to the aim of defeating dementia.

A unique insight

Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of diseases, all causing a progressive loss of our ability to think, feel and perceive by affecting how the brain functions. In the four weeks of this course we’ll investigate four forms of dementia that are important to understand better in their own right (they’re often not well recognised), but can also provide important insights that change how we think about dementia in general.

Week 1 – What if dementia runs in the family?
Explore the challenges that face families - and ground-breaking research taking place - with people affected by familial Alzheimer’s disease, where the condition runs in the family and often starts at a young age.

Week 2 – What if dementia affects behaviour and personality?
Dementia is not just about memory loss – we investigate the particular challenges for diagnosis and care for people with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia.

Week 3 – What if dementia makes you see things that aren’t there?
Some people with dementia experience hallucinations, and many describe fluctuations in their symptoms over time. These aspects are particularly clear in dementia with Lewy bodies, which you’ll learn about in Week 3.

Week 4 – What if dementia affects your vision, not your memory? People with posterior cortical atrophy experience changes in the way the brain processes visual information; we’ll explore this condition and the research taking place to help people live better with visual impairment related to dementia.

Learn from dementia experts, experts by experience and each other

This course is presented by experts from the UCL Institute of Neurology and Division of Psychiatry who are highly regarded for their work as scientists and clinicians. Importantly, you’ll hear from people who have been diagnosed with dementia, and people who care for a family member with dementia to get a better understanding of the impact that a diagnosis of dementia brings.

You’ll be able to understand how dementia affects people by watching video interviews, look deeper into the topics by reading articles, interact through activities and questions, and also learn from others on the course by taking part in the discussions that accompany each step. You can join the conversation now by signing up and visiting the welcome page.

This course was created, and is led by Dr Tim Shakespeare, Alzheimer’s Research UK Fellow at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology.

In the trailer video, “PiB Pet Images AD” by Klunkwe is adapted & licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsHello my name is Nick Fox I direct the Dementia Research Centre at UCL's Institute of Neurology here at Queen Square in London. I'd like to talk to you about dementia. Dementia is the most pressing social and health problem of our time, has devastating consequences for the individual for their families and for society. Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of diseases that cause a progressive loss of thinking skills. Alzheimer's disease is by far the most common cause but there are many less well-known forms of dementia which affect thousands or millions of people but they're often under recognised. So how can we better understand dementia, how can we provide the support the care and the treatments that are desperately needed?

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 secondsOn this four-week course you'll learn about dementia from a new perspective with world leading experts sharing their knowledge and importantly patients and carers sharing their candid personal accounts to demonstrate the symptoms and understand the challenges of living with these four less common forms of dementia. These are familial Alzheimer's disease behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and posterior cortical atrophy. Research into these forms of dementia has the power to help those affected and their families and as we'll show it can also provide unique insights into dementia in general. For example we'll talk to professors Martin Rossor and John Hardy who carried out prize-winning work finding the very first gene that causes the rare familial form of Alzheimer's disease.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 secondsWe'll show how these insights from familial Alzheimer's disease led to the design of new treatments with huge potential currently being trialled at UCL. The course is designed to be suitable for anybody and we hope it will be particularly interesting for those who interact with people with dementia as part of their work and those whose families and friends are affected as well as students with an interest in dementia. By the time you've completed the course we hope you'll be able to apply your understanding of the different forms of dementia; symptoms, diagnosis, research and support to your personal and professional lives.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 secondsSo please sign up for this free 4 week course about dementia at UCL and learn from world leading experts, individuals, patients and their families and be part of the conversation about the challenge of our time, dementia.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

Who is the course for?

The only requirement is an interest in dementia, its effects on people and the brain.
We hope that this course will be of particular interest to:

  • Anyone who works with people diagnosed with dementia
  • People who have a friend or family member who has dementia
  • People in the early stages of the disease
  • Students with an interest in learning more about dementia

Who will you learn with?

Tim Shakespeare

Tim Shakespeare

I worked with people with less common dementias at UCL for 6 years, first as a PhD student then as an Alzheimer's Research UK fellow, starting this course in 2016. I now work in science communication.

Susie Henley

Susie Henley

I'm a Clinical Psychologist specialising in working with people with long-term neurological conditions and associated mental health difficulties.

Keir Yong

Keir Yong

I research dementia-related visual impairment, caused by changes to the brain rather than the eyes, in order to develop aids and strategies intended to minimise the effects of such impairment.

Who developed the course?

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats, to celebrate taking part.

$49.00

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: