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FutureLearn announces a batch of health-related courses for World Health Day

Six free, online courses are open for registration on 7 April

In honour of World Health Day, six free, online courses that explore contemporary health issues will open for registration on FutureLearn, the UK-led online social learning platform. The courses will appeal to healthcare professionals looking to refresh their knowledge as well as members of the general public who are interested in the subject area or whose lives are affected by the respective topics.

The chief executive of FutureLearn, Simon Nelson, said: “Understanding advances in modern practice and research enables healthcare workers around the world to deliver the best care possible. And many ordinary people find themselves in the position of caring for a loved one with a debilitating condition, where understanding what’s happening can make a world of difference. FutureLearn is proud to offer these courses from some of Britain’s top universities for both practitioner and layperson alike, and our social platform will allow them to benefit and learn from each other’s experiences.”

While the courses are open for registration, please note the dates they start vary and are listed below:

Cancer in the 21st century: the genomic revolution

Course start: 19 May


This six-week course, from the University of Glasgow, will be divided into six key topics looking at ‘Where have we come from?’ ‘Where are we now?’ and ‘Where are we going?’ with respect to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Guest lecturers include active researchers and those involved in direct patient care and will include an insight in patient experience as well as discussion in key issues. A background in biology may be helpful but it is not necessary, and the course may be particularly attractive to current undergraduate students, nurses or medics who want to further their knowledge in this area.


Improving your image: dental photography in practice

Course start: 2 June


All aspects of the use of digital photography in dental practice will be covered in this four-week course from the University of Birmingham: intra-oral, extra-oral, and portraits. Participants will be taken through photography, from the basics of choosing correct equipment and setting it up, to optimum settings, techniques for consistent imaging and the safe storage of images. The course is taught by the team that delivers the online master’s degree course in Advanced General Dental Practice from the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham UK. No previous knowledge is necessary, but there will be certain requirements in terms of the equipment necessary to complete the course – particularly access to a digital SLR camera.


Obesity: causes and consequences

Course start: 9 June


On this four-week course from the University of Reading’s School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, learners will investigate how modern life, with its abundance of cheap, high calorie, fast food together with sedentary lifestyles and increasing urbanization, is increasing levels of obesity around the world and its wide-ranging consequences. We’ll look at how obesity is defined and measured, what causes obesity and what the consequences are for health. This course is suitable for anyone with an interest in understanding obesity and health, but will also be of benefit to healthcare professionals. For those participants who are unfamiliar with interpreting research, an overview of how to understand graphical and statistical evidence will be provided to help make the most of this content.


Swallowing difficulties and medicines

Course start: 9 June


Healthcare professionals and carers of people with swallowing difficulties will be interested in this eight-week course from the University of East Anglia. By the end of the course, participants will be able to describe: the swallowing process and different causes of swallowing problems; the different types of medicines formulations and how these should be administered to patients; how tablets and capsules are designed to ensure that drugs are appropriately distributed in the body; special considerations which need to be taken into account when giving medicines to older people and children; the special considerations which are required to administer medicines via enteral tubes; the law relating to the selection and administration of medicines; and how best to administer medicines to patients with dysphagia.


Good brain, bad brain: basics

Course start: 23 June


This three-week course from the University of Birmingham is an introduction to the human brain and provides basic information and explanations for the non-specialist. On the course, learners will look at what it’s made of, how these components are organised and how they function. Like all specialist areas, neuroscience uses jargon such that a word or short phrase can carry the meaning of perhaps a paragraph of description. The basics of the brain course is designed to introduce this jargon and the key biological processes underpinning brain function.


Inside cancer: how genes influence cancer development

Course start: 1 September


Learners on this six-week course from the University of Bath will explore the fundamental principles that inform the current understanding of cancer and the spread of cancer within the body. The concept of DNA mutations, and how tumours originate from the selective survival of cells where DNA mutations create an advantage allowing division and growth will be introduced. Other issues covered include the role of viruses in specific cancers, and this will be discussed in the context of cancer development. Learners on the course will also look at how the cellular signals controlling cell division and cell death are disrupted in cancer cells. Ultimately, this course will show you how genetics can influence a change in the behaviour of cells to make them cancerous. This is an introductory level course and will be suitable for students who studied biology at school, although those with more experience will also find the content interesting.

To enrol, visit

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