The continuing education program offers special interest and educational courses with a difference focusing on art, archaeology, culture, history, science, literature and writing, music and life skills.

Tue 30 Oct 2018 - Sat 08 Dec 2018

18:00 - 20:15

8 Sessions
11 spots remaining.

Understanding birds will explore all aspects of birds – origins, ongoing evolution, structure, behaviour, ecology and conservation issues – with an emphasis on Australian and local species. No prior knowledge required. Includes two field trips to identify and discuss local species.

Course outline

Topics covered include:

  1. The Definition of a Bird; bird ancestors and evolution
  2. Bird–watching Techniques and Tools
  3. Basic Adaptations
  4. Australian Bioregions and Habitats
  5. Bird Ecology and Behaviour, including impacts of climate change
  6. Brief Introduction to Taxonomy 
  7. The Australian Bird Fauna – an outline

For a more detailed outline, please download the full course outline here

Course dates

6-8.15pm, Tuesday 30 October

6-8.15pm, Tuesday 6 November

6-8.15pm, Tuesday 13 November

6-8.15pm, Tuesday 20 November

6-8.15pm, Tuesday 27 November

6-8.15pm, Tuesday 4 December

9-11am, Saturday 1 and 8 December

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone who would like to discover more about birds.


Mon 07 May 2018 - Mon 25 Jun 2018

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
4 spots remaining.

Ethics is the most important area of philosophy and the one which most affects our daily lives.

Course outline

Ethics is the most important area of philosophy and the one which most affects our daily lives.  As well as examining the major approaches to ethics in western philosophy, this course will encourage participants to refine and re-evaluate their own ethical positions.

  • Topic 1: Kinds of Ethics
  • Topic 2: Ethics and Consequences
  • Topic 3: Ethics and Duty
  • Topic 4: Peter Singer – Australia’s Greatest Philosopher
  • Topic 5: Modern Ethical Alternatives
  • Topic 6: Ethics and Evolution
  • Topic 7Case studies in Ethics
  • Topic 8The Post-Modern Challenge to Traditional Ethics

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course you should:

  • be familiar with the major ethical approaches in western philosophy.
  • be able to analyse and to re-evaluate their own ethical decision-making processes.

Who should enrol

Those who have an interest in ethical questions.

Wed 12 Sep 2018 - Wed 17 Oct 2018

18:00 - 20:00

6 Sessions
13 spots remaining.

Look up and behold - the wonders of the Universe! Discover planets, stars, black holes and much more in this introductory course. And no maths or physics required! Weather permitting, observe the cosmos using the outreach telescope of Mt Stomlo's Observatory.

Course outline

  • Introduction to astronomy: a brief look at the way the picture of the universe has changed over centuries, the people who changed it and the tools and methods they used. You'll be introduced to some basic concepts of earth's place in the universe and why the night sky changes over the course of days to years.
  • The private lives of stars: a look at how stars form, live and die. How do you measure the properties of stars? How does our sun compare? Introducing the "colourful zoo"; white dwarfs, red giants, black holes, etc, and the all-important H-R diagram.
  • Planets and planetary systems: planetary systems are the left-overs of star formation. You will look at the planets of our own solar system, and the hundreds of others that have been discovered in the past decade. You will also look at the "tiny bits"; comets, asteroids and meteors. Finally, you will consider the possibility of life on other worlds.
  • Observing night: come warmly dressed for a peek through several telescopes at some of the things we have been discussing. You'll also check out what can be seen in the night sky without a telescope. (This week is weather dependent and may be moved to the following week.)
  • Galaxies: are the basic unit of the universe. You will look at the various types of galaxies, their formation and interactions. How does our galaxy, the milky way, compare? Learn about dark matter and why we can't see it as well as the mysterious jets that some galaxies emit.
  • Cosmology and the future of astronomy: what can you tell about the age, size, and current state of the universe? Finally, we look at the future of astronomy and check out some of the projects underway in Australia and overseas.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should:

  • have an appreciation of the science of astronomy
  • be able to identify and apply techniques of observation to our galaxy and beyond
  • be able to identify some of the modern technologies that are applied in this research field and understand how this has impacted our modern life.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone who has looked into the night sky and wanted to discover more about what you see. Astronomy speaks to the heart of our human pursuit of discovery and exploration. If you have a passion for understanding the Big picture then this course is for you. No prior knowledge of Astronomy (or maths) is necessary.

Tue 31 Jul 2018 - Tue 18 Sep 2018

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
19 spots remaining.

We are often told that we are living in a post-modern environment, but what does that really mean? Find out in this course, which will explore the challenges presented by post-modernism while explaining how it came about.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: Pre-Modern and Modern approaches to philosophy
  • Topic 2: Romanticism and modernity
  • Topic 3: Hegel and Schopenhauer
  • Topic 4: Nietzsche and art
  • Topic 5: Heidegger and existentialism
  • Topic 6: From structuralism to post-structuralism
  • Topic 7: Foucault and history
  • Topic 8: Derrida and language

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should have an understanding of the major theme and issues of Western philosophy.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in learning more about philosophy.

Tue 16 Oct 2018 - Tue 04 Dec 2018

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
20 spots remaining.

Have you ever thought about whether you're free, how you should behave, whether things really are as they seem, or whether it is reasonable to believe in God? See how far you can go with these and other fundamental questions in this course.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: The big questions and how philosophy handles them
  • Topic 2: Questions and answers from the classical world
  • Topic 3: The existence of God
  • Topic 4: Are we free?
  • Topic 5: The mind-body problem
  • Topic 6: Knowledge and the self
  • Topic 7: Existence and the self
  • Topic 8: Ethical questions

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should have an understanding of the major themes and issues of western philosophy.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in learning more about philosophy.


Tue 08 May 2018 - Tue 26 Jun 2018

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
19 spots remaining.

This blockbuster course will look at movies that deal with major philosophical issues, or ‘the big questions’. For those wanting to further their understanding of philosophy or love movies, discuss a range of movies by well-known directors including Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Kurosawa. So the question is, "do you take the blue or the red pill?".

Course outline

The first movie – in bold type – on each week’s list will be the main topic for discussion, so course participants are encouraged to watch these movies before the class.  But the more movies you watch, the better, of course.

    • Week 1: Philosophy and Film - Plato’s Cinema.
    • Week 2: Knowledge and Scepticism - The Matrix (1999), Rashomon (1950).
    • Week 3: Mind and Consciousness - Ex Machina (2015) , Blade Runner (1982)
    • Week 4: Us, the Universe, and the Future - 2001 a Space Odyssey (1968), Solaris (1972, 2002), Blade Runner (1982), Alphaville (1965), Metropolis (1927).
    • Week 5: Ethics 1: Choices and Actions - Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989), Rope (1948), Lifeboat (1944), Bicycle Thieves (1948).
    • Week 6: Ethics 2: Morality and/in War? - Breaker Morant (1979), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Fury (2014).
    • Week 7: Freedom, Society, and Alienation - Minority Report (2002), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Taxi Driver (1967), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), Antz, (1998), Metropolis (1927).
    • Week 8: Metaphysics, Meaning, and God - The Seventh Seal (1957), Wings of Desire (1987), The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935).

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will be well acquainted with the central issues of western philosophy, and will possess a deeper understanding of our own cultural environment.

Who should enrol

Film buffs with a thirst for big answers!


Mon 30 Apr 2018 - Mon 04 Jun 2018

18:00 - 20:00

6 Sessions
7 spots remaining.

Physics doesn’t lie so why is there so much heat and controversy generated by this debate? The science behind global warming has been developing for over 150 years and many climate scientists have spent much of their careers in investigating and trying to understand the physical processes involved and the implications for the future. If you are confused about the competing claims with respect to climate change, here is your chance to interact with some of the world experts in their fields from the ANU on the actual science associated with global warming.

Week 1:

  • Weather and climate basics
  • Why do we get weather?
  • The difference between weather and climate
  • How do we categorize climate and climate of Australia?
  • Climate drivers of Australia and the world and their impact
  • ENSO, IOD, SAM, Monsoons, Ocean currents

Week 2:

  • The history and evidence of the science of climate change - The role of CO2 and other greenhouse gases:  How do they work?
  • Past climates: What can they tell us?

Week 3: 

  • Micro climates. How do they affect us?
  • Local climate change: What is happening in the Canberra region?

Week 4:

  • Present climate change in the broader earth system perspective
  • Impacts of climate change on developing countries

Week 5:

  • What are the likely future impacts on humans and ecosystems and how do we respond? Eg health, survival, fires, food security, infrastructure etc   Mitigation, Adaptation
  • Climate change and health

Week 6

  • Forum on international aspects of climate change
  • Why don’t people wish to believe the evidence?  What are the motives behind the denial campaigns?
  • International negotiations
  • Economics of climate change
  • General discussion/wind up


Guest speakers may include:

No dates are currently scheduled.

Thinking about our relationship with animals invites us to re-evaluate traditional approaches in both ethics and philosophy itself, and to question many long-standing socio-cultural assumptions. This course will cover attitudes towards animals in the Western intellectual and cultural tradition, the emergence of animal ethics as we know it in the late twentieth century, and current directions and tensions in the field of animal ethics.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: Attitudes towards animals in western thinking.
  • Topic 2: René Descartes and modern scientific thinking.
  • Topic 3: Enlightenment ethics and the idea of compassion.
  • Topic 4: The concept of speciesism; Peter Singer and Tom Regan.
  • Topic 5: Jacques Derrida and the continental intellectual tradition; postmodern ethics.
  • Topic 6: Ethics of Care; the question of intersectionality.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should have:

  • an understanding of some key philosophical and ethical concepts
  • an understanding of yourself and your relationship with the world in general and animals in particular.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in learning more about philosophy.

No dates are currently scheduled.

Are we alone? Are there aliens out there? Will we ever visit them on their planet or even live on another planet? Explore life in space, the creation of our planet, the parameters for searching for and finding life elsewhere, and the possibilities of becoming an inter-planetary species.

This course is being offered online and face-to-face. Live streaming and presentation links will be provided after enrolment.

Course outline

  • Week 1 - Life and astronomy: This will be an introduction to life in space from the context of astronomy.  What does astronomy has to say about how realistic it is that other life forms exist, and can we visit them?  We will explore topics such as exoplanets, the types of life that can exist, and even what Einstein has to say about life in space.
  • Week 2 - Living in space: We will explore the nature of living in space and being an inter-planetary species.  We will examine the health effects of space travel and how it will impact future exploration.  We will also examine how the laws of physics impact the practical aspects of space travel and living in space.
  • Week 3 - What if there is life in space:  What happens when we ask the question "Is Anybody Out There" and the answer is yes?  We will explore topics such as what happens to us if they are there and what happens to them?  

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should,

  • have an understanding and appreciation of life in the context of the Universe
  • be able to identify and explain the current issues of both living in space and space travel for species
  • have some understanding of the questions and discussion of 'aliens' in both your everyday life and in society.

Who should enrol

Anyone who has ever wondered if we are alone - but has wanted to know more. If you've asked any of these questions and wondered whether it is possible to live in space - this course is for you!  No prior knowledge of astronomy (or maths) is necessary.


No dates are currently scheduled.

The greatest minds are critical thinkers. Test your thinking skills and learn the strategies of critical thinking. By identifying and evaluating arguments and applying imaginative problem-solving you can build basic scientific reasoning for everyday life.

Course outline

Through presentations and workshops, this course will help you improve your critical thinking skills in a very practical way.  To start with, we will focus on identifying what is really offered as an argument. This means enhancing your detective skills by looking at the visible and discovering the invisible sections of an argument. Find out why most weaknesses of arguments lie in the missing premises/assumptions. We will then deal with argument evaluation through a wide variety of sources. There is no shortage of food for thought - current issues debated in the media and in popular culture offer a feast of ideas. Last part of the course tackles scientific reasoning/evidence-based decision making and mind experiments.

Learning outcomes

With the help of this course, the students will learn how to better use their critical thinking skills, as well as unlearn some of the bad thinking habits. They will be able to identify what is really being presented to them in an academic context, in a professional context as well as in the everyday situations that require problem-solving and imaginative thinking.  This course can help enhance general understanding of the crucial issues of our times as well as enable students to have much more enjoyment and pleasure in getting closer to the truth.

Who should enrol

Those with an interest in developing their thinking powers and recognising spin and bias.


No dates are currently scheduled.

Weather and climate lie at the heart of those major decisions we make on an everyday basis. What should I wear tomorrow? Should I hang out the washing?

Course outline

Weather and climate lie at the heart of those major decisions we make on an everyday basis. What should I wear tomorrow? Should I hang out the washing? Will I get wet if I ride my bike to work? What am I going to do with the kids this weekend? Should I do that concrete pour in the driveway?

This course explores the science of climate, weather and weather forecasting. You will discover how to read a weather map, how to make your own forecasts, whether you can rely on the accuracy of the daily forecasts and much more. If you have an interest in weather and climate or just want to understand what goes into the weather forecast, this is the course for you. The course will feature practical exercises to help you develop your own forecasting skills to make these decisions.

  • Topic 1: From sex to science. The history and basis of weather forecasting
  • Topic 2: From the ground up. Measuring and observing the weather.
  • Topic 3: Australia’s climate: the land of droughts and flooding rains (Clem/Janette).
  • Topic 4: What happens when Nature throws a tantrum? Severe weather of Australia.
  • Topic 5: Fire, heat and storms. Local Severe weather.
  • Topic 6: Turning up the heat. Weather, climate and human activities.

Who should enrol

For those seeking to understand and appreciate the science of weather and climate. Anyone interested in talking about the weather.