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University of Maryland, College Park

Genes and the Human Condition (From Behavior to Biotechnology)

University of Maryland, College Park via Coursera


To acquire an understanding of the fundamental concepts of genomics and biotechnology, and their implications for human biology, evolution, medicine, social policy and individual life path choices in the 21st century.


  • Introduction to Genetics
    • Module One provides a foundational overview of genetics tools and principles.
  • Know Thy Ancestors
    • Module Two explores the field of comparative genomics and traces our emergence as a species.
  • My Genes Made Me Do It
    • Module Three examines the role genes play in our behavior.
  • Midterm Exam
    • Midterm covering material in Module One through Module Three.
  • My Genes Didn't Make Me Do It
    • Module Four considers our genes, epigenetics and our environment and how they impact our lives.
  • An Introduction to Genetic Engineering and Learning the Lingo
    • Module Five introduces the world of genetic engineering concepts and biotechnology.
  • The Future is Now
    • Module Six discusses the history of biotechnology, its role in our lives today, and its prospects for the future.
  • Final Exam
    • Final Exam covering material in Module Four through Module Six.

Taught by

Dr. Tammatha O'Brien and Dr. Raymond St. Leger



4.5 rating, based on 12 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 876 ratings

Start your review of Genes and the Human Condition (From Behavior to Biotechnology)

  • Emma Abbott completed this course, spending 12 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This was a quirky look at the role genetics play in our lives - the lecturers were easy to understand and the assessment tasks highly relevant. Merges well with other more scientific studies of genetics, you only need a reasonable grasp of genetic theory to complete this course (and that is reviewed in the first week anyway). Go on and take it - you will be pleasantly surprised!
  • Greg Chapman

    Greg Chapman completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This is a good course as a broad introduction to topics in genetics. Dr. O'Brien's lectures were somewhat like you'd expect from an introductory science course, but Dr. St. Leger's lectures were more like what you might expect from a "science cafe" type of informal lecture. There's quite a bit of breadth in the topics covered (from behavior to biotechnology), but not a lot of depth; the course will whet your appetite to explore some of the topics in more detail. They do link to some resources for more exploration of the topics covered, but I wish they had linked to more academic resources as well. The quizzes are all recall based, so the course is not very rigorous, but it is interesting and engaging.
  • Kristina Bogovic

    Kristina Bogovic is taking this course right now, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    The course is full of detailed information and analysis of genes and behavior under the influence of genes and environment. Lectures are complex and it is necessary to occasionally pause or read the transcripts to understand the content. Exams are related to the lectures and all questions can be found in them. Teachers are nice and very talkative!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Hai! Brien and St. Leger,

    This course enhanced my knowledge in Genetics.Topics delivered by the course directors are excellent. I enjoyed the topic Epigenetics that taught me new insights in Genetics.

    I congratulate the course directors for conducting this course on genes and Human condition.

    yours sincerely,

    Ganta Rramprasad Babu
  • Brendan McKenna

    Brendan McKenna completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This was my first course -- ever-- on genetics or biology (excluding gradeschool). I enjoyed the subject matter but the teaching style was old, mundane, and different to follow. The information wasn't presented in "chunks" but rather a continuous, unorganized stream. I'd bet there's a better introductory out there.
  • Caroline

    Caroline completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course is awesome! I am definitely a beginner, so I had to pause and take down notes from time to time, but the course is jammed with information and is a very in-depth intro into genetics. Instructors are great & engaging: not boring or stuffy. Enjoy it.
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