Free course

Infection and immunity

Free statement of participation on completion
Infection and immunity Creative commons Icon

In this free course, Infection and immunity, you will be introduced to infectious diseases and to the biological agents that invade our bodies and cause them: pathogens. You will also learn about the immune system, the human body’s vital defence against pathogens. Along the way you will learn about the scientific method and how it has helped scientists understand pathogens and aid the prevention of infectious disease. But the challenge is ongoing. Pathogens are everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes. As you will see, the fight against infectious disease remains critical for global health today.

There are engaging videos and exciting animations to help you understand some more challenging concepts. The course is split into four sessions to help you structure your learning. Each session ends with a quiz so you can assess how well you're doing.

When you complete the course you'll receive a free statement of participation to help you to  share your achievement.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course SDK100 Science and health: an evidence-based approach, which forms the entry module in our undergraduate degree in Health Sciences.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • distinguish between symptoms and signs of an infectious disease and illustrate how they are combined in making a diagnosis
  • summarise the main direct and indirect transmission routes by which pathogens pass from person-to-person, from other animals, or from the environment to humans
  • appreciate the usefulness of combining systematic observations and measurements with testable hypotheses (the scientific method) in understanding infectious disease
  • distinguish between the six main types of pathogen multicellular parasites, single-celled protists, fungi, bacteria, viruses and prions
  • summarise the main features of human defences against infection.

First Published: 07/01/2016

Updated: 25/03/2020

You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.

Course content

Skip Rate and Review

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371