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Online course

Basic Science: Understanding Numbers

This course explains how you can use numbers to describe the natural world and make sense of everything from atoms to oceans.

Free:

  • Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Basic Science: Understanding Numbers

Why join the course?

This practical, hands-on course will help you to start thinking like a scientist, by using numbers to describe and understand the natural world.

It might be the size of the Greenland ice sheet, the number of molecules in a raindrop, or the latest set of mind-boggling numbers about climate change presented in the media.

No longer will you be put off by averages or percentages, and you’ll even learn to love negative numbers. You will understand and manage numbers like a scientist. The course will introduce all the main skills you’ll need to understand and communicate scientific numbers, relate them to the real world, and share your discoveries with other learners.

You may also be interested in joining Basic Science: Understanding Experiments.

All Open University science courses presented on FutureLearn are produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education.

Download video: standard or HD

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for anyone with an interest in numbers and making scientific observations. It does not require mathematical skills or any previous experience of studying the subject.

There are no special requirements for this course but you may like to find a simple calculator in a drawer or on your mobile phone to help you with some of the maths calculations.

Who will you learn with?

Simon Kelley

I'm an academic at the Open University responsible for the virtual microscope for Earth sciences and working on the Moons and Numbers MOOCs. I'm a geologist specialising in finding the age of rocks.

Who developed the course?

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

Supporters

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.