Circadian clocks: how rhythms structure life

This course is geared towards starting undergraduate students. A solid background in biology will be helpful but not absolutely essential. The material will be of interest to those who are pursuing a career in any of the life sciences as well as anyone who has run up against their biological clock.

About The Course

Have you ever wondered why some people sleep later or earlier than others or why your sleep times are seasonal? Did you know that even fungi make spores earlier or later than their relatives each day? Daily rhythms – from gene expression to behaviour – are everywhere in nature and they form a web of rhythmic interactions – from bees to blossoms to moles to hawks. That we are earlier or later than our neighbours or even than family members is due to a combination of our genes, our age and our environment. In this Coursera offering, you will be taught about the science of chronobiology, with a specific emphasis on daily or circadian clocks. We will discuss a variety of biological clock systems from bacteria to humans and will explain how circadian systems are organised from the molecular mechanisms that generate the daily rhythms to the many ways that circadian clocks control our lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, copies of the texts (most of which can be obtained for free), and the time to read, write, and discuss.

  • What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?

    You will gain an understanding of how your own biological clock controls your life and how you might, in turn, take control of your clock. You'll be able to appreciate how the clock affects the lives of those around us also!

Recommended Background

All are welcome! If you wish to earn a certificate, the successful completion of introductory university-level biology will be helpful.