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University of Tasmania

Understanding Dementia

University of Tasmania via Independent


The Understanding Dementia MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) was developed by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre based in the College of Health and Medicine at the University of Tasmania. This world-leading online course is free, easily accessible and available to everyone with an interest in dementia.

You'll learn from the global leaders in the field of dementia research and education, and gain knowledge to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia. 

Understanding Dementia is designed to be accessible and appealing to people from diverse backgrounds including:

  •       People living with dementia, their families, friends and caregivers
  •       Community and residential facility support staff
  •       Health professionals
  •       Health policy makers
  •       Individuals with a general interest in dementia

Anyone can develop dementia, everyone can help.

Dementia has a profound impact on individuals, families and communities, and the number of people with dementia across the world increases every year as our global population ages.

Dementia is now one of the most significant health, social and economic issues of the 21st Century.

Understanding Dementia examines the diseases that cause dementia, how they impact the person with dementia and the treatments and care practices that enhance quality of life across the trajectory of dementia for people with the condition, their families and caregivers. It provides avenues for engaging with participants from around the world about this major international health issue.

You should expect to spend approximately 3 hours per week engaging with the content and completing the course activities. You can work through the content at any time of day and at your own pace up until the course closes.

Once you have completed the course, you will be eligible to download a free, personalised certificate of completion. We also offer paid enhanced certificate options in addition to the free certificate.


Course Outline

  1. The Brain

Provides a background on basic nervous system anatomy and function, followed by a discussion of the diseases that cause dementia, current dementia research and future directions.

  1. The Diseases

Explores differences between normal ageing and dementia, risk factors, symptoms of dementia, issues surrounding diagnosis, as well as medical management.

  1. The Person

Addresses identifying and responding to symptoms, living with dementia, progression and staging, palliation, behavioural and psychological symptoms, and nonpharmacological therapies.

Taught by

Prof Fran McInerney


4.9 rating, based on 13,624 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Understanding Dementia

  • Anonymous
    The entire course is based on the misconception that human brain does the thinking instead of human mind. The understanding that human mind does the thinking process which includes remembering is extremely important. Imagine a person standing on top…
  • Colin David Walpole
    For me doing the course and its course work was a Rip Van Winkle experience. The last time I worked with people who had dementia was during the late seventies. At that time it was called Senile Dementia and Pre-senile Demetia. There were other demet…
  • Dr David Smith
    The Understanding Dementia MOOC provides a thorough overview of the nature and range of dementias and especially useful strategies for working with people living with dementia. As a film maker and physiologist, I have worked on some very large mult…
  • Anna Spencer
    Understanding Dementia is a brilliant course! I initially enrolled to enable me to better understand my father, who suffers from vascular dementia, and to ensure that he has the best care possible. I found the course so engaging, that my motivatio…
  • Syed Rahmat Ali Shah
    **Course Review: "Dementia: Unveiling the Layers of Understanding"** *Dementia*, an intricately designed course, offers a holistic journey into the world of cognitive decline, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive perspective. Divided into…
  • Mary Lou Rey
    "Undertaking the MOOC online course provided by the UTAS - Wicking Dementia Research & Education Centre, was an incredible journey for me. I had only worked briefly years ago in a Dementia Ward in a Nursing Care Facility in Queensland. I observed a…
  • Louise Cox
    This course has been invaluable to me. My mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2017 at the age of 83. Unfortunately I lost my mother last year at the height of the pandemic in Victoria last year. I watched her physically and mentally deteriorat…
  • "Understanding Dementia" is an incredibly heartfelt and well-made course. It admirably takes on a comprehensive biopsychosocial perspective to the reality of dementia, with some content being remarkably powerful in an emotional way. Unlike most othe…
  • Anonymous
    Dementia is the leading cause of death in Australia. Since 2017 it has become the leading cause of death for women who account for 64.5% of all dementia related deaths. Currently there is an estimated 447,115 Australians living with dementia. One in…
  • Anonymous
    For me doing the course and its course work was a Rip Van Winkle experience. The last time I worked with people who had dementia was during the late seventies. At that time it was called Senile Dementia and Pre-senile Demetia. There were other demet…
  • Anonymous
    I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to participate in and successfully complete the "Understanding Dementia" course offered through your MOOC platform. This learning journey has been enlightening, enriching, and incredib…
  • Most of us have, have had or will have family members & friends affected by one or other form of dementia. Some of us will be affected ourselves. Even if neither of these happens to you, as a member of our community dementias still affect you. You interact with people who have dementia. Their needs influence design of public spaces.
    DO NOT MISS THIS COURSE. It is free (incredibly). It is beautifully organised & well presented. Anyone can understand the material. If you are at all intellectually curious, it will interest you for its own sake. It is also an excellent example of on-line learning at its most effective.
  • Anonymous
    I recently had the privilege of participating in the "Understanding Dementia" MOOC facilitated through the University of Tasmania, and I can't praise it enough! This course exceeded all my expectations and deserves a resounding 5 stars. The content…
  • Anonymous
    recently had the privilege of completing the "Understanding Dementia" course, and I am genuinely impressed with the depth of knowledge and insights I have gained. This course has proven to be an invaluable resource for anyone seeking a profound und…
  • Anonymous
    This course inspired me to write a little poem about Dementia. It is called One Day at a Time. One Day at a Time I drive the only taxi in a little country town, So I get to know a lot of folks who need to get around. Each Friday Uncle Reg likes…
  • Highly recommend this course to others, especially those who may have a love one living with dementia. The course is easy to follow. Even the quiz's are easy to complete. The content covers what a carer needs to know. Awesome.
  • Bev Sawyer
    I am 74 years old and have a family member with mild alzheimer's disease. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the disease. A friend who works in providing care, completed the course in 2017. She sent me information on the course as she kne…
  • This course is an excellent layperson's guide to all aspects of dementia. It steps through the science and clinical aspects of dementing illnesses and corrects many myths and misunderstandings about dementia. With its final focus on the Person, I believe it contributes to the improvement in quality of life for carers and sufferers alike. I recommend it for instructors of Mental Health First Aid, as it builds on the knowledge we deliver, and for community service groups like Rotary who deliver projects too assist those caring for or living with dementia.
  • Anonymous
    Nanette Taylor - University of Canberra Hospital The course was an excellent 'learning platform' to outline the 'normal person with some challenges' versus those persons that have possible signs of dementia and those that have been conclusively dia…
  • This is a very easy to understand course for anyone interested in learning about and understanding the lives of people living with a dementia disease. It is presented in a recorded video conversation/interview style. There are scripts to read if re…