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University of Tasmania

Understanding Dementia

University of Tasmania via Independent


The 7-week curriculum is divided into three units: ‘the brain’, ‘the diseases’ and ‘the person’. It covers a range of topics including basic brain anatomy, pathology, dementia research, risk factors, the difference between normal ageing and dementia, diagnosis, medical management, living with dementia, progression and staging, palliation, behavioural and psychological symptoms, therapeutic approaches, dementia friendly communities and more.

The content is delivered by 18 experts in the field of dementia including neuroscientists, health scientists, clinicians, dementia care professionals and people living with dementia.

Participants will have an opportunity to engage with the material via video clips, activities, games, scenarios and quizzes. Furthermore, they will have an opportunity to meet an international network of peers online to discuss the key issues surrounding dementia.


Module: The Brain
The Brain provides background content on basic nervous system anatomy and function, followed by a discussion of the diseases that cause dementia, current dementia research and future directions.

  • Nervous system anatomy
  • Anatomy with Body Central
  • Pathology of dementia
  • Future directions of dementia research


Module: The Diseases

The Diseases explores differences between normal ageing and dementia, risk factors, issues surrounding diagnosis, as well as medical management.

  • Difference between normal ageing and dementia
  • Risk factors for dementia
  • Domains of dementia
  • Diagnosis of dementia
  • Younger onset dementia
  • Stages of dementia and focusing support
  • Medical management


Module: The Person

The Person addresses difficulties in recognising symptoms, living with dementia, palliation, pain, dementia friendly communities, dementia inclusive design, and non-pharmacological therapies.

  • Insidious onset of dementia
  • Living with dementia
  • Dementia palliation
  • Non-pharmacological therapies
  • Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia
  • Pain and dementia
  • Advanced dementia symptoms and management
  • Dementia friendly communities
  • Dementia inclusive design

Taught by

Prof Fran McInerney


4.9 rating, based on 12,080 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 of...
  • Colin David Walpole

    Colin David Walpole completed this course.

    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 demetias...
  • Dr David Smith

    Dr David Smith completed this course.

    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 multimedia...
  • Anna Spencer

    Anna Spencer completed this course, spending 25 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    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 motivation...
  • 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 deteriorate...
  • Mary Lou Rey

    Mary Lou Rey completed this course.

    "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 and...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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 ten...
  • "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 other...
  • 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
    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 to...
  • 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

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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 demetias...
  • Everyone should complete this course, it equips you with not only the foundations in dementia knowledge but helps you to gain personal understanding and perspective. I have completed this course twice now & it just keeps getting better.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Understanding Dementia. This review describes the brain science on dementia, the risk factors for dementia, the behavioural & psychological symptoms of dementia and therapy. Dementia is a collection of syndromes. Alzheimer's disease is known to be the...
  • 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 required...
  • This is a great class. I completed the 2022 version. I was curious about the subject matter and have learned a lot about various aspects of Dementia.

    I am now better prepared to understand the experiences of people suffering from Dementia. The quality of this MOOC was excellent. Learned from clinicians and researchers.

    I loved that at the end, they gave the option to purchase the certificate in a variety of formats. This is wonderful, as, one has access to all material, and only after the completion does one has the option to purchase the certificate. This is a nice way to pay for a MOOC after its completion.

    This is a great class, that I would recommend to anyone interested in the topic.
  • Bev Sawyer

    Bev Sawyer completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    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 knew...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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 diagnosed...
  • Anonymous
    I have recently completed the MOOC Understanding Dementia & I can highly recommend this course as excellent & the best on line course I have ever done. The course is so very informative , interesting & so relevant to understand dementia as the...
  • I am based in the UK, and chose this course after doing a search online for a dementia related course. My mother has dementia and I wanted more knowledge in order to better support her, and to prepare myself for what the future holds. This course was easy to navigate and provided excellent content.

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