Courses – Science, Nature & Technology


Roddie McKenzie

Genomics is the decoding and manipulation of the information contained in the genetic material (DNA) of organisms, including humans.  We will explore what   DNA reveals about   ancestry, identity and disease susceptibility and learn how genetic engineering can alleviate disease and create products from new micro-organisms, plants and animals.

Course Code: 04   213       Wednesday 10.00/12.00    5 weeks   Starts:   24 February 2021      Fee: £40/£35




Roddie McKenzie

We will explore how scientific discoveries combine with other factors and needs, to fuel the development of various technologies and how they impact on society. We will consider both negative and positive effects of technology on society through specific examples including nuclear power,  artificial intelligence/robotics, genetic engineering  and the ethical issues they raise.

Course Code: 04  305     Wednesday 10.00/12.00       5 weeks    Starts: 14 April 2021   Fee: £40/£35




Brian Kelly

Take a voyage through space with this six-week course and discover the universe as revealed by twenty-first century astronomy. From the surfaces of nearby planets and moons to the distant realms of the stars and galaxies, we’ll explore our amazing cosmos and even try to answer some of the big questions – where did it all come from, and are we humans alone?

Course code : 04 209  Tuesdays 6.30/8.30   6 weeks  Starts: 16 February 2021  Fee: £48/£42



THE DUNDEE THREE: Great Thinkers that Changed our World

Keith Skene

Across history, brilliant thinkers are often clustered together, in both time and space. At the end of the nineteenth century, three amazing minds co-existed in Dundee, and their work would transform how we think about some of the most important issues facing us today.  They all worked in University College Dundee at the same time, and radically advanced their fields of study.

In this short course Dr Keith Skene will consider each of these extraordinary individuals, understanding where their inspiration came from and exploring why they once again find themselves at the heart of debate.

Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson: The great zoologist, and a true polymath, Thompson’s On Growth and Form, penned in Dundee, would have huge impacts in fields as widespread as anthropology, architecture and developmental biology, and has undergone a modern revival across these and many other subjects. He challenged Darwinian thinking, setting out a new theory of Structuralism, and inspired a vast number of great thinkers.

Patrick Geddes. An extraordinary thinker, his work spanned ecology, botany, social science and town planning.  Major design projects included Tel Aviv, and inner-city transformations of Edinburgh and many cities in India.  He transformed the subjects of urban renewal and of sociology, setting out a framework that would go on to inspire many urban planners and theorists including Lewis Mumford.

Robert Smith. Born and raised in Forebank Terrace in the Hilltown in Dundee, Smith studied under Geddes and would become the first plant ecologist in Britain.  He died aged 27, from appendicitis, but by then had established ecology as a field of study in Britain, an extraordinary legacy, which his brother, William, saw through to its completion.

Course Code: 04 214   Wednesday 6.30/8.30  3 weeks  Starts: 24 February 2021     Fees: £24/£21



A SCOTTISH FLORA:  A History of Scotland as Told by its Plants

Keith Skene

A four-week course, focusing on seven plants from Scotland, that tell the story of momentous changes that have occurred over the last four hundred million years.  From the fossilized plants of Rhynie, in Aberdeenshire, some of the oldest in the world, to the remnants of the Caledonian forests that used to dominate Scotland, and from mountain avens, which tells the story of one of the most dramatic climate change events ever to occur on our planet, to  thrift, one of the few plants to thrive at sea level and high in  the Scottish mountains. Dr Keith Skene will guide you through the stories, people and lessons to be learnt from these incredible flowers of Scotland.

Course code: 04 308  Wednesday 6.30/8.30        4 weeks     Starts: 5 May 2021   £32/£28



FIELD TRIP: Fowlsheugh Nature Reserve

Join Dr Keith Skene as he introduces you to the incredible bird and plant life at Fowlsheugh Nature Reserve, just north of Inverbervie at Crawton. One hundred and thirty thousand birds cling to the four-hundred-million-year-old cliffs, including puffins, kittiwakes, gannets, herring gulls, razorbills, guillemots and fulmars, and together they form one of the three largest bird colonies in mainland Britain. It’s an amazing place and we’ll discuss the biology of these species and the challenges faced by them in these turbulent times. A one-mile walk on grassy paths, and a bracing wind! Participants must arrange their own transport.  Details will be supplied.

Code: 04 315      11am/2pm  Saturday 12 June  2021           Fees:  tbc

NB: This event is dependent on easing of Covid-19 restrictions

FIELD TRIP: Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve – How Ecological Succession Created Links Golf

The finest links golf courses are found in Scotland, but just north of the Old Course in St Andrews lies the incredible Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve, a natural links course, thankfully protected from development. Join Dr Keith Skene to explore ecological succession (where sand dunes become forests) and how nature designed the best golf courses in the world, as sand dunes became bunkers and slacks became fairways.  Participants must arrange their own transport to Tentsmuir for this three-mile walk on sandy paths. Details will be supplied.

Code: 04 316  2/5pm   Saturday 19 June 2021           Fees: tbc

NB: This event is dependent on easing of Covid-19 restrictions

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