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The Secret Science of Sewage
Explore the valuable resources in sewage through world-leading science.
1st April 2021 at 1:00AM
Dr George McGavin and Dr Zoe Laughlin set up base camp at one of the UK’s biggest Sewage Works to investigate the revolutionary science finding vital renewable resources and undiscovered life in human waste. Teaming up with world class scientists, they search for biological entities in sewage with potentially lifesaving medical properties, find out how pee can generate electricity, gas from poo can fuel a car and how nutrients in waste can help solve the soil crisis. They follow each stage of the sewage treatment process, revealing what the stuff we flush can tell us about how we live today, and the mindboggling biotechnology being harnessed to clean it, making the wastewater safe enough to return to the environment.
You and your microbiota. Although you might think of yourself as a single individual composed of many millions of cells, you are also host to over one hundred trillion bacteria.Read now ❯What lives in, and on, you
Can you tell blue cheese from dental plaque? Try our interactive quiz to find out and learn more about food with fascinating facts from James Wong!Take part now ❯Quiz: Can you identify food under an electron microscope?
This flexible degree combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Build your own degree from a wide range of STEM modules and study routes. Build a qualification that's unique to you.Learn more ❯BSc (Honours) Combined STEM
This degree examines the science behind health. From individual health to global issues like epidemics or the treatment of dementia. You'll study scientific concepts that underpin the function of the human mind and body. Explore the incidence, diagnosis and treatment of disease and disability. And examine the maintenance and improvement of health in different populations. It's particularly relevant if you work in, or aspire to work in, a health-related profession.Learn more ❯BSc (Honours) Health Sciences
Our biology degree is for those inspired by the natural world. Studying with the OU will enable you to gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of life and biological processes involved. Explore diverse subject areas from the cellular and molecular levels to whole organism survival. Biology encompasses all living species, explaining their diversity via evolutionary origins. It defines their anatomy and structure, describes their physiology and behaviour, and provides scientific rationales for their habitat requirements and ecosystem interactions.Learn more ❯BSc (Honours) Biology
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Environmental monitoring and protection
To conserve our environment, we need to ensure that any deterioration which can be prevented is addressed. This module is entirely online, and will equip you with knowledge of the different environmental monitoring techniques for water, noise, air, and waste; how to model and interpret the impacts of pollutants; and the techniques available to eliminate the pollutants. Computer models and rich examples make for an interesting and useful coverage of water pollution control, noise control, air quality management, and solid waste management. You will gain the skills necessary to undertake environmental assessment work, interpret the results, and suggest appropriate remedial measures, bearing in mind pollutants can be a reusable resource.Learn more ❯Environmental monitoring and protection
This online course explores the intriguing world of bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic organisms ? an empire of creatures that extends into every facet of human life and the environment. is one of a series of 100-hour flexible online courses introducing fascinating topics in science. It allows you to learn about this topic just for interest and enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to further study. You can register and begin this course at any time and will have at least 6 months to complete it.Learn more ❯Science: microbes
This key introductory module introduces the science of human health and is structured around eight globally important health topics, ranging from nutrition and infectious diseases to pain and breast cancer screening. Each topic integrates key concepts in the biological, chemical and physical sciences with psychology and health statistics to illuminate the causes of disease and disability and the consequence for individuals and populations. You will also develop the skills you need for further study of the health sciences, including evaluating evidence; handling numbers; presenting data; writing skills; and using information technology.Learn more ❯Science and health: an evidence-based approach
Microbes often get a bad name. Whilst some of them do cause disease, others play vital roles in recycling nutrients in the soil to enable plants to grow, and in breaking down human waste. Without microbes, we would have no beer, no yoghurt, no coffee. That's quite impressive for something too small to see. This free course, Microbes friend or foe? sheds some light on them.Learn more ❯Microbes – friend or foe?
Both vitamins and minerals are essential in the diet in small quantities. Learn about the two main vitamin groups and the major mineral elements. This free course, Nutrition: vitamins and minerals, looks at the two main groups of vitamins: the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K; and the water-soluble vitamins, the B group and vitamin C. It also examines the major mineral elements, and the importance of fluid balance in the body.Learn more ❯Nutrition: vitamins and minerals
Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat, compromising our ability to treat infections and increasing the risk of routine surgery. Resistant infections are increasing due to overuse of antibiotics and this has resulted in the emergence of 'superbugs' (bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics). This free course, Understanding antibiotic resistance, provides the science background underlying antibiotic resistance. It will cover the following questions. What are antibiotics? Why do we need them? How do they work? What is antibiotic resistance? Why is it a problem? What can we do about it?Learn more ❯Understanding antibiotic resistance
Dr Mark Hirst - Senior lecturer in Biology
My background is in human genomics and disease, but more recent research has focussed on genome evolution/genomic data analysis (across biology) and its applications in human disease diagnosis and prognosis.
I have taught at all levels of the life sciences curriculum from core biology (genomics, microbiology, evolution, DNA biochemistry), biomedical sciences, and hands-on laboratory schools. This has included microbiology, environmental testing of water/sewage (bugs, nitrates, pesticides), hands-on classes monitoring antibiotic resistance in bacteria (growing bugs and DNA detection), and analysing the human microbiome.
I am the Biosciences lead for the OpenSTEM labs and currently both an author and academic editor for a new biomedicine course for the OU that covers many aspects of human health, including antimicrobial resistance and the role of the microbiome in health (S290).