An introduction to biology studies the diversity of life and the basic units of all living things. Modern biology is a science that also explores the history of life, resulting in major scientific breakthroughs. If you’re interested in learning biology for beginners or want more than just an intro to biology, you can use this article as a guide to the best biology courses for beginners.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for medical scientists is projected to grow by a staggering seventeen percent within this decade. The job outlook for microbiologists, biological technicians, biochemists, and biophysicists is also increasing. Continue reading for some of the best biology courses for beginners.
What Is Biology?
Biology is a fundamental unit of modern science that studies living organisms, such as humans, animals, and microorganisms, and their vital processes. This study of life has three main branches, including botany, zoology, and microbiology. However, there are over 25 common types of applied and basic biology, including genetics, evolution, molecular biology, the science of medicine, physiology, and more.
Biological knowledge has helped us understand major diseases, coherent theory, the process of evolution, genetic material, and nearly all forms of life. It explores the cell biology of bacterial cells, the structure of a host cell, the theory of evolution and natural selection, nucleic acids, hallmarks of cancer, genetic material, and even biological functions, like cell division and cellular respiration in eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells.
How to Learn Biology for Beginners
- Online courses. According to Statista, learning through online courses helped 81 percent of US college students increase their grades in 2016. There are numerous beginner courses available online that can help you understand this modern science.
- Self-study. Self-studying is a great method to pace your learning in a way that is suitable for you. Using digital technologies for self-study proves to be beneficial for students of any age or level, and there are plenty of biology textbooks available in both paper and digital formats.
- Bootcamps or workshops. Science camps, workshops, and bootcamps are a structured and organized way of learning biology that can be especially beneficial for beginners. They are an interactive and hands-on way of learning science.
- Bachelor’s degree. A college education, like a bachelor’s of science in any concentration of biological sciences, is a way to immerse yourself entirely while studying biology.
- Conferences. Going to scientific conferences and seminars that focus on topics within modern biology is a great way to learn through industry experts like scientists, biologists, medical doctors, and professors. You will expand your knowledge of biology in no time.
Best Biology Courses for Beginners
|AP Biology Chapter 1: Life in one Look||Udemy||$24.99||1.5 hours of video lectures|
|Biology Everywhere Specialization||Coursera||Free ($147 with certificate and graded work)||5 months|
|Cancer Biology Specialization||Coursera||$147||3 months|
|Essential Human Biology: Cells and Tissues||edX||Free ($169 with certificate and graded work)||5 weeks|
|General Biology 1: Foundations of Biology||Udemy||$19.99||2 hours 23 minutes of video lectures|
|Introduction to Biology – The Secret of Life||edX||Free ($150 with certificate and graded work)||4 months|
|Introduction to Animal Behavior||edX||Free, $169 with certificate and graded work||6 weeks|
|Introduction to Genetics and Evolution||Coursera||Free ($49 with certificate)||25 hours|
|Introductory Biology||Udemy||$59.99||9.5 hours of video lectures|
|Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life||Coursera||Free ($49 with certificate)||28 hours|
The Best Intro to Biology Courses: Explained
According to Statista, biomedical and biological sciences were among the top five bachelor’s degrees earned in the US in 2019, meaning there is a high demand for learning the subject. Below we’ve listed some of the best biology introductory online courses, many with certificate programs, that are great learning resources to help you dive into biology.
AP Biology Chapter 1: Life in one Look | Udemy
Advanced Placement (AP) Biology is an introductory high school level biology course with the option to earn college credits by passing the AP exam. The online class doesn’t require students to have previous knowledge of biology, so it’s a great biology course for beginners. It has five lectures, covering everything from cell biology to metabolism and reproduction. It also covers topics like adaptation, order, evolution, source of energy, and the scientific method.
Biology Everywhere Specialization | Coursera
Biology Everywhere is an introductory biology specialization program consisting of four courses offered by University of Colorado Boulder through Coursera. This course ties the characteristics of life that we know with biology in an applicable way. It covers cell biology, conservation, evolution, natural selection, ecology, and genetics. Students will learn to explore current biological issues, such as the internal environment, global warming, and endangered species.
Cancer Biology Specialization | Coursera
This is a beginner-level specialization course in cancer biology offered by Johns Hopkins University through Coursera. It covers the basics of cancer biology, genetic drift, and cancer metastasis. The course begins by explaining the molecular biology and risk factors of the most common types of major cancers, going on to elaborate on the screening and treatment procedures. This course also offers a certificate that you can include on your resume for future careers.
Essential Human Biology: Cells and Tissues | edX
The University of Adelaide offers this introductory cell biology course through edX. This course does not have any prerequisites but a basic understanding of biology is recommended. However, it is a great beginner’s course for those interested in human biology, anatomy, physiology, and the major organs in the human body.
General Biology 1: Foundations of Biology | Udemy
Foundations of Biology is another beginner-friendly course designed for freshmen and sophomore college students, high school students, and non-traditional learners. This course dives into many fundamental topics, such as the hierarchy of life, theory of evolution, cell structure of somatic cells, major cancers, cellular respiration, genes, cloning, and chemical bonds and elements.
Introduction to Biology – The Secret of Life | edX
This MIT biology course teaches the basics of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, recombinant DNA, genomics, and rational medicine. You will learn about genotypes and phenotypes, structures and functions of individual cells, DNA and RNA, synthesis of proteins, and genomics. The course is offered for free, or as a paid version that offers a certificate and graded assignments by MIT instructors.
Introduction to Animal Behavior | edX
Wageningen University offers this introductory course on the diversity of life within animals, featuring a deeper look into the ways animals behave socially. You will learn key zoological concepts, such as the primary source of energy for animals, how they form stronger bonds, and how to develop and test scientific hypotheses. This course is offered both for free and as a paid certification version.
Introduction to Genetics and Evolution | Coursera
This beginner genetics course offered by Duke University covers everything you need to know about the process of evolution. It covers a wide range of topics, from natural selection and genetic drift to the synthesis of DNA and protein molecules. It is a great introductory course for those interested specifically in the theory of evolution and how new species are formed.
Introductory Biology | Udemy
This course will cover all fundamental topics, such as the structures of eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells, cell reproduction, amino acids, associate structures, ionic bonds, chemical bonds, chemical energy, cellular respiration, daughter cells, modern genetics, and other major aspects of life and biology. It is a self-paced digital learning option, so you can complete it at your own pace.
Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life | Coursera
The University of Chicago offers this beginner biology course through Coursera. It covers the fundamental principles of neurobiology in our daily life. You will learn many fascinating topics, such as the nervous system, neural communication, how the brain communicates with our organ systems, neuroanatomy, the senses, common types of voluntary movements, motor modulation, homeostasis, and abstract function.
Is Learning Biology Worth It?
Yes, learning biology is worth it, as it is a well-respected field with many applications. Knowledge of biology allows you to use the scientific method to study the characteristics of life and organisms up close and understand complex processes like natural selection and cell theory. If you decide to pursue biology at the college level, be sure to choose the best bachelor of science program in biology to further expand your passion and knowledge of biology.
Introduction to Biology FAQ
The basics of biology are based on five principles: cell theory, gene theory, evolution, homeostasis, and the law of thermodynamics. Each has a basic principle. For example, cell theory states that all living organisms are composed of cells and that cells are the basic units of life.
The three main branches of biology include medical science, botany, and zoology. Medical science is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Botany is the study of plants, and zoology refers to the study of animals.
The main study of biology is the study of life. Biologists study the function, structure, growth, origin, evolution, and cells of living organisms.
The major types of biology include botany, conservation, evolution, ecology, genetics, marine biology, medicine, molecular biology, morphology, microbiology, physiology, taxonomy, and zoology. Each branch of biology has a specific focus.
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