• University of York

The Biology of Bugs, Brains, and Beasts

Improve your understanding of some of the key concepts in A level biology and discover what's involved in higher level study.

5,367 enrolled on this course

The Biology of Bugs, Brains, and Beasts

Prepare for university study with this online biology course

Are you a student in sixth form and thinking of studying at university? On this course, you will use innovative research to enhance your understanding of basic biological concepts taught in A level biology. You will also be introduced to university-level material so you can get a sense of what it’s like to study biosciences at the University of York.

Over three weeks, you will take a fascinating look into bugs, brains and neuroscience, and the interaction of animals with the environment. You will also discover what makes the University of York a unique place to study.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds Gain an insight into the exciting world of Biology by joining our course, as we explore three fascinating subject areas… Bugs, Brains and Beasts

What topics will you cover?

  • Bugs (microorganisms and the biochemistry of life)
  • Brains (neuroscience: learning and memory)
  • Beasts (interaction of animals with the environment - ecology and conservation)

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the ubiquity and importance of microbes
  • Explore the biological basis of learning and memory
  • Describe how species interact in biological communities, considering their wider habitat and the influence of humans

Who is the course for?

This course is for school students in sixth form or Year 11 that are considering applying to university, as well as anyone interested in biology.

Who will you learn with?

I am the course coordinator. I am also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of York. My teaching focuses on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

I am a microbiologist at the University of York who studies how bacteria interact with the world around them, whether this be inside our bodies, inside insects or in our armpits!

I'm a Lecturer in Biology at the University of York. My background is in disease ecology and I use microbiology to help answer interesting ecological questions.

I'm an Associate Lecturer in Biology at the University of York. My background spans chemistry to stem cell biology. I'm interested in human metabolism and how we can teach the body to repair itself.

I am a professor in the Department of Biology at the University of York. I use applied systems biology to understand and improve how anaerobic microbial communities recover resources from waste.

I am a Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience at the University of York. My work investigates the molecular and cellular basis of behaviour.

I am a Lecturer in the Department of Biology, University of York. One of my interests is the genetics of neurodegenerative diseases.

I am an ecologist working at the University of York who has particular interests in African ecology and conservation.

You can follow me on twitter at @TZBirder for lots of African birds & conservation!

I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of York. My teaching and research focus on cell signalling in the developing, mature and ageing brain.

Who developed the course?

University of York

The University of York combines the pursuit of academic excellence with a culture of inclusion, which encourages everyone – from a variety of backgrounds – to achieve their best.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.



Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 5 weeks



Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible


$189.99 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year

Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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