Science and Environment
Science is part of the fabric of our society, and the ability to question and understand how things behave is very much a part of what makes us human. This is why our Science and Environment programme covers such a wide range of topics.
This year, there are new courses on Art and Style in Garden Making, Oceans: Our Planet’s Vital Asset, Reading the British Garden and The Story of the Electron. The relationship between landscape and the underlying geology will be explored in courses on Field Geology of the Glamorgan Coast and Field Geology from the Malvern Hills to the Cotswolds. As always, there are courses on offer at weekends, and this year’s selection includes courses on astronomy, geology and herbal medicine.
Whether you would like to learn more about what physical evidence can tell us about crimes, or how planets, stars and galaxies work, we hope that there will be something of interest to you. Early enrolment is recommended for all courses to avoid disappointment.
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Science and Environment Courses
The design of house and garden are inextricably linked, and this course seeks to explore the gardens and landscapes architects have created both for themselves and for their clients. We will consider innovative and significant landscapes created by architects from across the world, including Frank Lloyd-Wright, Arne Jacobsen, Corbusier, and Lutyens.
This course provides a general introduction to searching for and watching wildlife in the UK. By considering sites both local and further afield we will explore what to look for, where and when. Basic ecology and identification features will be covered, with tips on how to find some key species.
In the eastern English Midlands, the generally subdued relief is conspicuously interrupted by the craggy, locally-wooded hills of Charnwood Forest, a few miles north-west of Leicester. Here are found rocks formed from explosive volcanic eruptions about 600 million years ago, together with lavas and igneous intrusions. Within rocks that were once volcanic ashes have been found world-famous fossil sea pens and jellyfish, pre-dating the earliest known shelly fossils. No prior knowledge of geology or the area is assumed. Please note that you will need to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements, with meetings times and places to be confirmed.
This course covers topical areas of astronomy and space science, ranging from our solar system to extra-solar planets and the Big Bang, with a particular emphasis on the expertise and research at Cardiff University. Workshops will consist of a taught lecture component supplemented with hands-on activities, with opportunities to use robotic telescopes over the Internet.
From Tudor times to the twentieth century great themes have dominated garden style: horticultural artifice in topiary and knots, intimacy and public display, private space and the park, entertainment and theatre, games, feasts and festivals. These recurrent elements will be studied across the centuries in their social context using the visual and written sources which record them.
This course discusses the problems posed by diseases that are specifically tropical or ones that stem from deficiencies in water supply and sanitation provision. The approach adopted is an ecological one and gives particular attention to control through habitat modification and technology transfer.
Have you ever wanted to grow your own food, but thought you did not have the time? Based on permaculture principles, this Edible Landscaping course will take you through: low maintenance food growing and gardening techniques, unusual perennial food plants, managing your pests naturally, working with weeds, basic soil science and water management techniques.
Learn how to design, create and maintain a low maintenance edible garden focussing on fruit trees, soft fruit and shade tolerant leafy plants. Based on permaculture principles, this Fruit Gardening course will take you through designing and drawing up plans for your garden and maintenance needs - including pruning, pest management and pollination.
Using realistic simulations and sophisticated computer programs, 'Exploring Space' will enable you to find out how planets, stars and galaxies work. Weather permitting, simple astronomical observations will supplement the virtual universe investigated indoors. You can work at your own pace and, having completed the basic exercises, then research what interests you most. This course is equally suitable for students with existing experience of 'Investigating Astronomy', or for beginners.
This highly scenic area spans the boundary between older folded rocks seen in much of Wales, and younger flatter rocks in southern England. Our study includes those from Precambrian to Jurassic age: metamorphics in the craggy Malverns, red desert strata in a cliff on the River Severn, and shelly oolitic limestones (some formerly containing dinosaur bones) in Cotswold quarries. No prior knowledge of geology or the locations is assumed. Please note that you will need to make your own travel arrangements, with meeting time and place to be confirmed.
The spectacular cliffs of the Glamorgan coast provide wonderful exposures of rocks and fossils which tell a tale of changing environments through time, from tropical seas to hot deserts and back to marine conditions. This course, which combines evening meetings with three days in the field, will demonstrate how to read the story in the rocks. No previous knowledge of geology will be assumed. Please note that you will need to make your own travel arrangements for the field trips.
We all have different nutritional needs depending on our metabolism, when and how often we eat, and whether we are stressed or relaxed. We shall look at the links between food and lifestyle, and see how we can best match our nutritional needs to our eating behaviour.
The significant gentlemen garden creators of the twentieth century created personal gardens for themselves and their friends to enjoy; some formed themselves into societies, others supported the great plant hunters of their day. This course looks in detail at these gardeners and their gardens, bringing it right up to date with contemporary garden designers.
Most of the world's population use plants as their main source of medicine. In this course we will concentrate on the traditional use of plants in Western herbal medicine but will also look at some of those in use in other cultures around the world. There will be an introduction to the main body systems and the safe and effective use of plants for common ailments. Practical sessions will offer the opportunity to learn how to make herbal infusions, tinctures, creams, oils and poultices.
What can physical evidence tell us about crimes, and how? Forensic scientists will introduce you to the analysis of fingerprints, body fluids, blood patterns, fire investigation, the biomechanics of injury, how death is investigated and the role of the forensic expert within the legal system. This is your opportunity to investigate forensic science through real case studies.
Up until the 20th century, our understanding of human anatomy came largely from dissection. Beginning with a brief history of anatomy, this course looks at how the application of x-ray, ultrasound, magnetic resonance and other imaging techniques have allowed us to delve inside the body in different ways, and so develop a more detailed understanding of a variety of body functions and conditions.
A delight to sail on, catch fish in, swim on, or dive under, or simply to look at, our global ocean carries our valuable cargo, and many cruise-ship passengers, everywhere. Where did this awesome, yet beautiful, vital asset come from, what is within and under it, and how does it all go together?
How did people come to populate the planet? Beginning with the early genesis of our species we will take a walk through time to develop our understanding of our origins. Along the way, we will investigate who the Neanderthals were, where animals were first domesticated, what is the ethical context of current and past theories, what does Ancient DNA tell us about the past and lots more!
Reading the British Garden is the course for every garden lover. Intended to give an account of the many different elements of gardens, explaining their meaning and their history: from mazes, lawns, herbaceous borders and ‘garden rooms’ to plant collecting and garden styles from around the world. Using modern media and contemporary illustrations, the course will bring historic and modern gardens to life.
Science features prominently in the news, and scientific discoveries enrich our lives on a daily basis, but how is science communicated, and for what reasons? From advertising to education, our analysis of who is trying to communicate with whom leads us to examine the novel ways in which people are attempting to engage the public with science.
Arguably the most useful subatomic particle, the electron was already revolutionalising the technological world before its actual discovery in the late 19th century. Since then, electricity and electronics have transformed our lives. But, what is an electron and how does it behave? Through a series of presentations, demonstrations and simple experiments the nature of an electron, and what it can do, will be revealed.
Learn how to grow food using permaculture and organic food growing techniques. Course includes: seed sowing, transplanting, potting on, natural soil management, natural pest management, weed management and more.