Introduction to Biology

Introduction to Biology

Gain a solid foundation for a career in healthcare or medicine with an understanding of biology. This course will help you learn how cells and DNA determine the structure and function of the human body which is essential to understanding the fundamental causes of human disease.

6 Weeks Access / 24 Course Hrs
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Are you interested in learning more about living things, or perhaps beginning to train for a career in the healthcare or medical professions? This course will help you understand the structure and function of the human body at the level of your tiniest living components—your cells. You'll also learn about DNA—what it is, what it does, and even a little bit about how forensic scientists use it to solve crimes. The knowledge you'll gain from this course is essential to understanding the fundamental causes of human disease, and will prepare you for more advanced courses in human anatomy and physiology.

As you explore each topic, you'll have lots of opportunities to deepen your understanding and relate what you're learning to your own life. When things get complicated, you'll have the guidance you need, so you won't get overwhelmed by the details. By the end of the course, you'll have a better appreciation of the fundamental characteristics of living things as well as a solid foundation in the biology of human beings and the biological and medical sciences.


In your first lesson, you'll get an introduction to the smallest living part of you: the cell. You'll discover the properties of life that you and your cells both have, and you'll see how cells combine to form the tissues and organs that make up your body. The lesson will also introduce the non-living components that make up cells, including molecules and atoms. Then you'll see how scientists sum up the most important facts about cells in cell theory. By the end of this lesson, you'll know why cells are the smallest units of life, and you'll understand how they make up all living things, including your body.

In this lesson, you'll take an in-depth look at your cells and how they function. You'll consider why all life on Earth is based on cells. You'll take a look at the structures found in eukaryotic cells—the type of cells shared by you, other animals, plants, mushrooms, and seaweed—and explore how each structure contributes to the life of the cell as a whole. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a better understanding of how your cells work.

In this lesson, you'll discover the fundamental units of matter that make up the structure of every organism and the Earth itself. You'll explore the structure of atoms and learn about the attractions that form between atoms to create molecules. You'll also take a peek at the unique nature of the water molecules that cover 70% of the Earth's surface and flow within every living thing. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a gained a foundation in simple chemistry that will help you better understand symbols like H2O and CO2. You'll also have a basis for understanding more complicated molecules like carbohydrates, proteins, and DNA.

In this lesson, you'll take a good look at the molecules that make up most of your body. You'll examine the structure of carbohydrates, lipids (fats and related molecules) and proteins, and learn exactly why your body needs all three of these types of molecules. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a better understanding of the value of carbohydrates, the difference between dangerous saturated fats and healthy unsaturated oils, and why you should choose lean protein to get your essential amino acids.

In this lesson, you'll explore the structure and function of one of the cell's most crucial parts: the plasma membrane. All life depends on this very important boundary between a cell and its environment! You'll start by examining the membrane's components and unique properties, which are perfectly suited to protecting the health and well-being of the cell. Then you'll take a look at the important jobs the membrane does for your cells, including screening materials, moving stuff in and out of the cell, and receiving messages. Finally, you'll see how materials cross the plasma membrane and why that's important to normal health. Along the way, you'll gain a better understanding of blood types, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis.

In this lesson, you'll learn all about enzymes: what they are, what they do, and why they're important to cells and human health. You'll also get an introduction to chemical reactions and some fundamentals of human metabolism. By the end of this lesson, you'll know why you need vitamins and minerals in your diet. You'll also discover how humans can manipulate enzymes, targeting them in order to benefit or harm human health.

In this lesson, you'll explore one of the most important parts of your metabolism: cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is the process that your cells use to get the energy they need to survive. You'll learn the fundamental laws that govern all energy exchanges, whether your cells or man-made machines perform them. By the end of this lesson, you'll understand the most important events that occur during cellular respiration, and you'll have new insights into why you breathe and why you sweat.

In this lesson, you'll look at the most important molecule of life: DNA. You'll see how the genetic blueprints in DNA determine all of your unique traits. You'll also explore the structure of DNA and learn about its powerful chemical code. By the end of the lesson, you'll know what the letters A, T, G, and C mean to biologists, and you'll have a better understanding of the importance of stem cells in medical research.

In this lesson, you'll explore how cells divide to make new cells for growth, repair, and sexual reproduction. You'll see how cells make exact copies of themselves during mitosis in order to grow or repair damage (such as a paper cut). The lesson will walk you through the process of mitosis to show you how cells get exactly the right number and types of chromosomes. You'll then see how a special kind of cell division called meiosis is necessary for sexual reproduction and the human life cycle.

In this lesson, you'll find out how parents pass traits to their offspring. You'll explore how the genetic information from both parents interacts to determine which traits appear in each generation. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a better understanding of why people in families look like each other and why there is so much diversity in human traits like skin and eye color. You'll also know more about the inheritance of some genetic diseases.

In this lesson, you'll look at how biologists are delving into the mysteries of life by reading and manipulating the genetic code. You'll take a peek at some of the new DNA technology that's helping scientists test for and treat genetic diseases, engineer organisms, and solve crimes. You'll explore some of the issues this technology presents. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a better understanding of genetic testing, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and how DNA is used in forensic science.

In the final lesson of the course, you'll investigate how normal cells turn into cancer cells. You'll look at the changes that occur in cells as the disease progresses. You'll also explore how cancer treatments work and find out what lifestyle choices you can make to lower your cancer risks. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a better understanding of the biology behind cancer, as well as the risks, prevention strategies, and treatments for this disease.



There are no prerequisites to take this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.


René Fester Kratz

René Fester Kratz graduated from the University of Washington with a Ph.D. in Botany. For the past 15 years, she's been teaching biology to a wide variety of students whose interests range from curiosity about the natural world to a desire to work in the healthcare professions. René's strong interest in science literacy motivated her to help develop science classes for future teachers and to write several science books aimed at the general public, including Biology for Dummies and Molecular and Cell Biology for Dummies. In both her teaching and her writing, René emphasizes central ideas and keeps jargon to a minimum.

Instructor Interaction: The instructor looks forward to interacting with learners in the online moderated discussion area to share their expertise and answer any questions you may have on the course content.


For someone who took biology more than 40 years ago, I found the information fairly easy to absorb. I appreciated the analogies used by instructor to get the information across to her students. They made it easier for me to understand the concepts she was teaching. I hope I have an opportunity to take another course with Rene.

I really enjoyed this Biology class. I thought it was going to be too difficult for me, but actually it wasn't. The course was very informative, interesting and had just enough touches of humor and real life examples so that I could understand the material. While I don't think I've grasped all of it, this will certainly be material that I will go back to for greater understanding. Thank you so much for the opportunity to learn this material and thank you to our instructor Rene, for caring enough to take an otherwise "scary" bit of material and bring it to light the way she has, in a condensed, hit the high points of the course. I'll look for another course taught by Rene and be even further enlightened!

I like the instructors analogies and how they related to the subject matter, like comparing a cell to a house. I thought the class was well thought out and presented in a logical manner. I loved the length of each class - giving you enough information to learn, but not over whelming. I enjoyed the class thoroughly.

This course was just right for me. I have read & studied a lot of biology over the years, but I wanted a simple, up-to-date review and that's what I got. Nicely written; I especially liked the analogies, they were great. The assignments were interesting and fun.

I found this course, Introduction to Biology, fascinating and a valuable update of my education of science. The instructor was excellent and responded to my questions with great depth. The span of the course is correct for its length. I hope there will be a follow-on course with a focus on plant biology and fungi.

Thank you so much for such an enjoyable class! Through your illustrations and analogies you made learning these concepts easy and fun! I really enjoyed it!

I enrolled in this Ed2Go course as a refresher of basic biology since my last biology course was during high school back in 1972. My intention is to enroll in a for-credit college level biology course/lab. This Ed2Go online biology class suited my needs perfectly. In addition, I was so fascinated by the discussion of chemistry and how it relates to biology, that I am currently enrolled in the online chemistry course! Learning is Life Long!

Thank you for all the information that you included in the course, especially for connecting theory to the everyday life, which made it easier to understand some mechanisms. I really enjoyed this course and I can actually say that I regret it's over.

Enjoyed the class, liked your way of teaching. You are making students understand the material not just simply memorize it! I did not study for a while and this was a good refresher for me.

I really enjoyed this course and felt that I learned a lot from it. I was pleased to see that the instructor used real life comparisons to help me better understand concepts. I really enjoyed this class and will enjoy using this new knowledge in my everyday life.

Instructor-Moderated Course Code: bio