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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Big History - From the Big Bang until Today by University of Amsterdam

239 ratings

About the Course

Welcome to this Big History course! In this course, renowned scientists and scholars from the University of Amsterdam and beyond will take you on a journey from the Big Bang until today while addressing key questions in their fields. After completing this journey you will have developed a better understanding of how you and everything around you became the way they are today. You will also have gained an understanding of the underlying mechanisms that have helped shape the history of everything and how they wil help shape the future. Last but not least, you will have developed the skill to use this knowledge to put smaller subjects into a bigger perspective with the aid of the little big history approach, which can help you develop some new ideas on these smaller subjects....

Top reviews


May 30, 2022

Professionally composed and presented. Informational, educatinal, and well worth teh time. If you have an interst in the creatign and evolution of Earth and, well, us, take this course.


Oct 18, 2023

Excellent Course, It gives a comprehensive overview and one develops a good knowledge on the subject matter. The interactive nature of the course make learning fun and engaging.

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1 - 25 of 82 Reviews for Big History - From the Big Bang until Today

By Ritika R

Jun 1, 2020

I got to know a lot about this course and I am happy that I invested my time in learning this course....

Thanks to Coursera and their excellent teaching faculties....!!

By Gilly M

Oct 30, 2020

Parts of this course are extremely interesting and no matter what your background you will learn a lot about the evolution of our planet and mankind. However, the way the quizzes are marked is not well thought out, as only one point is allocated to each question, regardless of how many correct answers you give in the multiple choice. So the final mark is not an accurate assessment of how much knowledge you have acquired that week. On other Coursera courses I have taken, you are given one point for each correct answer, which is a fairer way to test your learning.

It is also quite frustrating how the final assessment is marked. On other courses, the peer assessment is anonymous but on this course you can see who has marked your assignment. So, if you have been critical of their work they have the opportunity to mark your assessment down! You also have to wait quite a long time for someone to mark your assignment simply because not that many students make it through to the final week, given the harsh marking of previous quizzes. If you look at Week 4 Forum it is full of students asking for someone to mark their assignment!!! This is not a great situation.

By Neel P

Jul 3, 2020

I enjoyed the course alot. The professors explained the lectures very well. Learned alot of things. Thanks Coursera and University of Amsterdam.

By Stephen C

May 21, 2017

Fantastic diversity of top teachers from so many disciplines all tied together to show the Big Picture! Thank you all!

By Sophie Z

Feb 10, 2019

Extremely interesting with engaging and knowledgeable professors. I had to watch some videos a few times and pause in places to absorb the somewhat-dense content, and if you don't have an introductory knowledge of physics and biology (maybe first-year university level?) it may be more difficult due to the increased density of the information. However, concepts are explained clearly and succinctly, making even the most difficult concepts palatable.

By Inna B

Jan 24, 2021

Well, this course is about everything and nothing and the same time. I want to thank the profs who took the lectures on Week 1 and the prof who told about the religion, because it was the most interesting lectures as for me. The rest was not very interesting and even boring. As for me, it is better to consider the topics in detail than to try to snatch pieces from the history and briefly tell about everything. I would like more examples and conretics.

The worst part of this course for me is Little Big History assignment. Lecturer has told that you can write whatever you want but linked it with the theme of the lecture. You can write a very creative essay, but other testing students do not think so and will give you low grades. This is not an objective grades. Besides, it's hard to write an essay every week when English isn't your native language.

I think that there are more interesting lectures on YouTube dedicated to the development of the world from the Big Bang until today.

By Deleted A

Mar 4, 2021

It was really tough for me to learn so much so fast. It's the first studying I've done in 30 or more years . But I persisted and it came easier as time went by. So at 82 I'm delighted that my grade was 90.60% for this course. I really enjoyed learning so much about Big History. These courses are a great way to fill in these long days of isolation during this pandemic. Now it's on to new courses. Thank you ever so much to Esther and all the other lecturers. Your presentations were well done.

By Diego L

Aug 29, 2020

Until today, the best course I have taken on Coursera. Its teachers are experts in different disciplines: astronomers, physicists, biologist, chemists, historian, anthropologists... ¡Thanks Mrs. Quaedackers!

SUBTÍTULOS EN ESPAÑOL: Si vas a estudiar este curso en español, tienes que saber que los subtítulos de los viedos tienen un error. Se traduce la palabra en inglés "billion" (mil millones de años) como "billón" en español (un millón de millones de años).

By Mandhir S

Mar 29, 2021

Excellent course. Great perspective and very factual, logical and illuminating. The exercises were more on applicability rather than memorization which is the better way.

By Maria V L

Nov 25, 2020

I think It could be more interesting if in this cours there would be more issues about astronomy and physics

By Bhavik D

Nov 8, 2018

Please improve your tests.

By Antony H

Oct 9, 2017

Antony Harper <>

9:50 AM (5 minutes ago)

to E.Ouaedackers

Dear Dr. Quaedackers,

I have just finished the Coursera course, Big History: From the Big Bang until Today, and found it a very worthwhile experience. If you can bear with me, I have a few (hopefully) helpful comments; if not please metaphorically shred this email and place in the bottom of your canary cage. The canary is optional.

The course was well organized both per presentation and per weekly topic, and the tempo of the course was appropriate. Having a transcribed text to accompany each presentation was quite helpful, although at times, due to the text being voice-prompted, the accents of the various speakers produced unique spellings, initially difficult to recognize as English. [Please note that were the arrangement reversed and, say, my American English accent were to be voice-morphed into Dutch spelling, who knows what would be produced! So, this last is not a criticism but rather an observation.] In particular, I found the combination of both a narrative approach to Big History and a conceptual one, the concepts being embedded within the overall narrative, a very effective mode of presentation, especially with the ultimate expectation of students producing a Little Big History on some personally valued topic.

With regard to the presenters themselves, all come off as experts who are genuinely motivated by the nature of their fields of study and by their responsibility to present in your course. While I did not complete a head-count of the total number of presenters, it was certainly in double digits and possibly in the twenties; what a nightmare to schedule and organize! My hat is off to you and your staff on this last point. While time per presentation is of the essence and the focus of the course was well established, it would have been interesting to have each presenter, either as a portion of their presentation or as a text addendum to the presentation, comment on the perspective that Big History gives to their specific research. Moving on…….

My formal training is in biology and at the graduate level, zoology with emphasis in ecology and evolution. This last is mentioned so you can take what follows with a grain of salt, i.e. my comments are biased by my background and are unnecessarily ladened with expectation. It would have been nice if the portion of the course dealing with the history of life spent a bit more time on mechanisms, specifically with respect to recovery from mass extinctions, and it would have been equally nice if comparisons of evolved complexity of succeeding ecologies were made between mass extinctions. Penultimately, after the Permo-Triassic extinction Lystrosaurus is the only large terrestrial vertebrate to appear in the fossil record. This poses some interesting ecological problems with respect to food source, predators, pathogens, and biomass, perhaps worth some consideration in a future version of the course. [Note here that Wignall (2015) suggests a slough of extinctions occurring over 80 million years beginning just prior to the P-T boundary and extending to the end of the Triassic and into the early Jurassic. Also note that Wignall suggests that biomass recovers quite quickly while biodiversity requires significantly more time to recover. If correct, this is an interesting phenomenon associated with recovery from collapse of complex systems in general!] Finally, convergent evolution should be considered more thoroughly both in temporal sequence, e.g. Phytosaurs to Crocodilians and with respect to the convergence of adaptive radiations themselves, e.g. Marsupials v. Placentals.

In closing, your course is excellent, and I would recommend it without qualification to anyone wishing a broader perspective of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. In conjuction with your course, I purchased Prof. Spier’s Big History and the Future of Humanity and found it a very worthwhile companion. The assigned writings were excellent and the capstone project very effective. Well done here! I do however have some concerns regarding the use of multiple choice questions, particularly when the payoff for being “correct” is so heavily skewed toward making errors; reward for learning should not be so constrained. Also, the position of Big History within formal academics, something that is currently only now being established, might be a valuable discussion topic to consider in the future. Further, asking students to submit their own unanswered Big History questions at the end of the course might be enlightening to both the student population and the presenters. Beyond these few admittedly narrow concerns and as mentioned previously, this course is excellent.

Many, many thanks for a first rate educational experience,

Tony Harper

Wignall, Paul B. 2015. The Worst of Times: How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million

Years of Extinctions. Princeton. Princeton University Press.

By Hannah L

Dec 29, 2022

As a science educator, I really appreciated the content of this course, for my own interest, and its application to the courses I teach (General Science, Biology, Environmental Science). Daily, I was applying what I learned in this course to my lessons in formation of earth and life, agricultural revolution and peat core sampling, natural and sexual selection, and implications of the industrial revolution on the environment. Writing the essays and completing the quizzes was a creative and appropriate way to test my knowledge intake. I opted to pay for the certificate in order to list the completion and passing this course on my resume, as I believe it to now be a fine reflection of my knowledge and skills!

By sunshinesmile018

Dec 27, 2022

I enjoy this Big History course very much. The science portions are difficult for me. I wish there could be a type of software installed into my art-literature type of brain to digest better on science subjects. Nevertheless, I have learned much and/or reviewed what I had learned in middle school.

I wish the course could have had more extended contents beyond summaries. Under each subject, it would be wonderful if there is a relatively profound course that we can take at will.

Thank you, all lecturers and peers!

By David H

Oct 12, 2018

A truly fascinating course. I have only a limited knowledge of science, but I have a growing fascination with astronomy and origins of the universe, life and the possibility of other life one day being discovered beyond Earth.

This course has allowed my to explore this fascination, even if it has stretched my understanding of scientific formulas and calculations. And I maybe still just as clueless about particle physics and Higgs bosom.

By Florencia H

Jul 12, 2020

This course is fantastic! It approaches Cosmic & Human History, Evolution and other topics with clear explanations, great teachers and applicable examples. The Little Big History approach allowed me to comprehend these topics and apply them to my own knowledge - my academic background is far from natural sciences (history & law) and I had no problem understanding the classes. The short duration (4 weeks) is also very approachable.

By John R

Aug 14, 2017

Another very innovative presentation of the history of the universe. This course shows the interrelationship of the various disciplines of academic study. No single discipline can be used to explain all the history of the universe. The selection of various subject areas, and stated in the beginning not all inclusive, allowed me to see how multiple ideas can interact. Thank you for a very interesting course.


Sep 25, 2023

I am very happy to have completed this course, I congratulate the teachers and the University of Amsterdam for their contribution to the training of teachers around the world.

I have learned a lot, many of the concepts and pedagogical formats I will apply immediately in my classes.

Big greeting from Argentina

Carlo Noseda

By Raúl P M

Mar 23, 2018

He tenido un enorme gusto de encontrarme con este tema en Coursera.

Tiene muchos años que estoy interesado en la Big History, y este curso ha sido una excelente propuesta (los "pequeños grandes relatos") para aprender del tema.

Ojalá que la Universidad de Ámsterdam ofrezca otros cursos sobre BH.

By jan m b

Mar 26, 2017

I followed the lessons of the course with great interest. I like to make a compliment to the professors and to the editors of the course material. The resulting insight into Big History has already helped me to better understand environmental problems and reports of newly discovered planets.

By Duvan A Z M

Mar 6, 2022

I think it´s an excellent course beacause like a historian it´s very important know the natural story of the universe and try to make hypothesis to connect this story with the earth story and the human story, and with that exercise try to explain why are humans the way they are

By ticoselvatico

Sep 14, 2017

I give my deepest thanks to all the teachers who shared their knowledge in this excellent course and especially to Professor Esther Quaedackers and her principal instructor. I found the learning acquired through all the modules of the course to be very valu

By Yvonne F

May 22, 2017

Enganging and empowering! The little big history assignments seemed rather intimidating at first, but it greatly helped to engage with big history more deeply. Don’t hesitate to switch sessions and take more time to think and write the assignments.

By Swami M

May 9, 2020

New perspective on history, a history that is local and evolving and personal. And everyone can be a historian and this course gives them a tool to go about systematically to create little histories that are close to their heart.

By Marina S

Nov 13, 2021

Very exciting topics, interesting lectures, thorough discussions. I couldn't stop listening and was even a bit sad when the course was over. One of the best history courses I've taken, for sure.