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Free online degree on alien life to launch
Edinburgh University has announced they will launch a series of short courses accessible online to the public for free from late 2012, including an opportunity to study an "Introduction to Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life".
The course, which will be taught by Charles Cockell, a professor of Astrobiology, is one of six being offered as part of the Coursera scheme – a US-run project backed by Stanford and Princeton universities which encourages leading institutions from around the world to make high-calibre courses available globally.
The course will aim to answer questions such as "Is there life on other planetary bodies?", and "How is it distributed throughout the Universe?"
Edinburgh will also offer five other courses including "Equine Nutrition" and "Artificial Intelligence Planning" as a part of the scheme, which focuses on offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to a global audience.
Members of the consortium hope the experiment can "reinvent" the higher education landscape, with students signing up from around the world for four hours' study each week, consisting of an hour of lectures, one hour of discussion and additional self-study.