Free online course: Introduction to Genetics and Evolution


About the Course
Introduction to Genetics and Evolution gives interested people a very basic overview of the principles behind these very fundamental areas of biology. We often hear about new “genome sequences,” commercial kits that can tell you about your ancestry (including pre-human) from your DNA or disease predispositions, debates about the truth of evolution, and why animals behave the way they do. This course provides the basic biology you need to understand all of these issues better and tries to clarify some misconceptions. No prior coursework is assumed.

About the Instructor

Dr. Mohamed Noor is the Earl D. McLean Professor and Associate Chair of Biology at Duke University. His expertise is in molecular evolution, and a large part of his research has been devoted to trying to understand the genetic changes that ultimately lead to the formation of new species. More recently, his research team has used fruit fly species to understand the causes and evolutionary consequences of variation in rates of genetic recombination/ exchange.

Dr. Noor has received several awards for research, teaching, and mentoring, and has been active in the scientific community, including serving as president of the American Genetic Association, chair of the NIH study section in Genetic Variation and Evolution, and editor of the journal Evolution.

Course Syllabus
Evidence for evolution
Introduction to basic genetics
Recombination and genetic mapping simple traits
Complications to genetic mapping
Genes vs. environment
Basic population genetics and Hardy-Weinberg
Gene flow, differentiation, inbreeding
Natural selection and genetic drift
Molecular evolution
Evolutionary applications and misapplications
Adaptive behaviors and species formation

Written By: Dr. Mohamed Noor
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  1.  Pretty awesome that they’re doing this. Look at the other courses offered!

    I might
    take: Galaxies and Cosmology (Cal Tech), Game Theory (Stanford), and Neuroethics (Univ. of

  2. Wire this to all free schools and free school applicants in the UK; trouble is, it’s for “…interested people…” and it would seem that it’s just not possible to get through to those who are “faithful”.


  3. Just signed up for this course. Am very thankful to Duke University for offering this and to RDF for bringing this resource to our attention.
    This is how real progress in our community is made.
    Can’t wait for it to start!

  4. With courses offered in this way, nobody understanding english can pretend not knowing the evidence for evolution anymore.
    And then the course should be translated in arabic, indonesian … 

  5. This is great!  Thanks for bringing attention to this.  Even though I’ve read all of Richard’s books, and Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution Is True”, and I have a degrees in biology and nursing, I feel I can never learn too much.  Another advantage will be having more credibility when I’m arguing against creationists (which, with my evangelical family, I do quite often).  I signed up immediately!

    Thanks again to Dr. Noor and RDFRS for posting this information!

  6. I agree.  There is just no excuse for ignorance of evolution these days.  The problem is, most of the people who really, really need this kind of access to learning seem to just use their computers for watching porn or writing retarded, misspelled rants against evolution on blogs and YouTube.  Sigh.

  7. What a fantastic resource and many thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’ve signed straight up and hope it starts soon.

  8. Very nice, indeed.

    I do, however, believe that the true beauty of online courses is that they make it possible to work at one’s own pace, be it faster or slower than average, rather than following a predetermined schedule. I suppose in this case it excusable because the university is being kind enough to offer actual assessment and an exam.

    Including the question “What if I don’t believe in evolution? What if it conflicts with my faith?” (and the reassurance that follows) in the FAQ is less excusable. Leaving aside the obvious fact that religious belief is bollocks, surely, surely, someone incapable of answering the above question for themself should not be attempting any form of higher learning. The subject of religion should never have been brought up in the first place.

    That said, I shall be signing up.

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