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Why are things beautiful?

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Why are things beautiful? Copyrighted image Credit: BBC New content
Intermediate level Duration 30 mins Updated 21 Nov 2014
The concept of beauty is explored in these short animations. 

Interstellar: a dangerous fantasy of US colonialism?

Interstellar: a dangerous fantasy of US colonialism? Copyrighted image Credit: Lagron49 | Dreamstime.com - Anne Hathaway Photo New content
Updated 19 Nov 2014
Anne Hathaway's space movie puts engineers and scientists at the heart of the story - but is let down by an American colonialist message, says...

What does it mean to be free?

What does it mean to be free? Copyrighted image Credit: BBC New content
Intermediate level Duration 30 mins Updated 14 Nov 2014
These series of animations explore the question: what does it mean to be free? 

OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas - Beauty and morality

Featuring: VideoVideo
OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas - Beauty and morality Copyrighted image Credit: BBC
Introductory level Duration 5 mins Updated 07 Nov 2014
Philosopher Angie Hobbs discusses Plato's ideas concerning beauty and its connection with morality.

OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas - Free will and the brain

Featuring: VideoVideo
OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas - Free will and the brain Copyrighted image Credit: BBC
Introductory level Duration 5 mins Updated 04 Nov 2014
Do we have free will or are our thoughts and actions pre-determined? Neuroscientist Paul Broks tackles this question in this episode of A History...

OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas - Religious freedom

Featuring: VideoVideo
OU on the BBC: A History of Ideas - Religious freedom Copyrighted image Credit: BBC
Introductory level Duration 5 mins Updated 04 Nov 2014
Theologian Giles Fraser discusses the religious stance on freedom in this episode of A History of Ideas. 

The Great Fall: The effect on the arts

The Great Fall: The effect on the arts Copyrighted image Credit: Alexander Vasilyev | Dreamstime.com
Introductory level Duration 5 mins Updated 03 Nov 2014
The fall of the Berlin Wall had a great impact, especially in the world of the arts. 

The Great Fall: Berlin’s ‘Freedom’ concert

The Great Fall: Berlin’s ‘Freedom’ concert Creative commons image Credit: Allan Warren under CC BY-SA 3.0) license
Introductory level Duration 5 mins Updated 03 Nov 2014
How did the Berlin 'Freedom' concert come about after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and what significance has music played in Germany's past?  

Green shade: Why debates without the party aren't worth the effort

Green shade: Why debates without the party aren't worth the effort Creative commons image Credit: Scottish Greens under CC-BY licence New content
Updated 31 Oct 2014
Plans for a leaders' debate prior to the 2015 election exclude The Green Party - undermining the value of the debate, says Peter Bloom.

Hold the hurrahs; let's have a viva: Testing Russell Brand's ideas

Hold the hurrahs; let's have a viva: Testing Russell Brand's ideas Creative commons image Credit: Eva Rindali under CC-BY-SA licence
Introductory level Duration 5 mins Updated 30 Oct 2014
Giving Russell Brand a platform for his vague ideas is worrying if we don't treat them with due rigour, argues Robert Herian

Free OpenLearn courses.
Free extracts from OU course materials

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Visions of protest: Graffiti

Free CourseFree Course Featuring: VideoVideo
Visions of protest: Graffiti Updated content
Introductory level Duration 8 hours Updated 18 Nov 2014
This unit introduces students to contrasting understandings of graffiti. It draws on a wide range of different examples of graffiti, including...

An introduction to material culture

Free CourseFree Course Featuring: VideoVideo
An introduction to material culture Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission
Introductory level Duration 2 hours Updated 24 Sep 2014
This unit is an introduction to the study of material culture. It asks why we should study things and outlines some basic approaches to studying...

Musée du Louvre

Free CourseFree Course Featuring: VideoVideo
Musée du Louvre Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission
Intermediate level Duration 4 hours Updated 27 Aug 2014
The Musée du Louvre houses 35,000 works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, but how were they brought together as a collection?...

Cultures

Free CourseFree Course
Cultures Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission
Intermediate level Duration 5 hours Updated 20 Aug 2014
In this unit you will address the question of traditional music and music from the francophone world and you will examine the place they occupy in...

Veiling

Free CourseFree Course Featuring: VideoVideo AudioAudio
Veiling
Intermediate level Duration 10 hours Updated 22 Jan 2014
This unit explores controversies associated with the practice of ‘veiling’ within Islam. The Islamic ‘veil', be it in the form of the hijab, niqab,...

Approaching poetry

Free CourseFree Course
Approaching poetry Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission
Intermediate level Duration 20 hours Updated 11 Dec 2013
Do you want to get more out of your reading of poetry? This unit is designed to develop the analytical skills you need for a more in-depth study of...

Art and Visual Culture: Medieval to Modern

Free CourseFree Course
Art and Visual Culture: Medieval to Modern
Intermediate level Duration 10 hours Updated 21 Nov 2013
What is art? What is visual culture? How have they changed through history? This unit explores the fundamental issues raised by the study of...

Two concepts of freedom

Free CourseFree Course
Two concepts of freedom Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission
Intermediate level Duration 20 hours Updated 14 Nov 2013
What defines individual freedom in a civilised society? Philosophers have argued over such questions for centuries. This unit looks at various...

Studying religion

Free CourseFree Course Featuring: VideoVideo
Studying religion Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission
Introductory level Duration 20 hours Updated 17 Oct 2013
This unit will give you an opportunity to think about some of the key concepts and methods of the discipline of Religious Studies. You will meet...

Composition and improvisation in cross-cultural perspective

Free CourseFree Course Featuring: VideoVideo
Composition and improvisation in cross-cultural perspective Copyrighted image Credit: Used with permission
Advanced level Duration 20 hours Updated 17 Oct 2013
Improvisation and composition are words frequently used in the western world to describe the creation of music. But are they really two distinct...

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Certificate of Higher Education Open

CourseCourse
Certificate of Higher Education Open Copyrighted image Credit: Irochka | Dreamstime.com Updated content
Duration 1200 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
If you’re keen to try university study and want to keep your options open, this certificate course is ideal. It’s part of our unique Open...

BA/BSc Open degree

CourseCourse
BA/BSc Open degree Copyrighted image Credit: Dreamstime Updated content
Duration 3000 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
Over 40 per cent of OU students who graduate do so with an Open degree. It’s a statistic we’re proud of – the BA/BSc Open is one of the most...

Certificate of Higher Education in Humanities

CourseCourse
Certificate of Higher Education in Humanities Copyrighted image Credit: Dreamstime Updated content
Duration 1200 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
Why study the arts? Apart from sheer enjoyment, these subjects give you an enormous breadth of cultural literacy while training you to think and...

BA (Honours) Humanities

CourseCourse
BA (Honours) Humanities Copyrighted image Credit: The Open University / Karen Parker Updated content
Duration 3600 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
This degree in humanities offers a broad-based grounding in the study and enjoyment of the arts and humanities – covering a fascinating variety of...

Diploma of Higher Education in Humanities

CourseCourse
Diploma of Higher Education in Humanities Copyrighted image Credit: Dreamstime Updated content
Duration 2400 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
The Diploma of Higher Education in Humanities will help you refine your skills of debate and analysis while developing your cultural literacy. It...

BA (Honours) Philosophy and Psychological Studies

CourseCourse
BA (Honours) Philosophy and Psychological Studies Copyrighted image Credit: The Open University/Karen Parker Updated content
Duration 3600 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
Philosophy and psychology seek to answer profound questions about us, our minds, our behaviour, and our place in the social and physical universe....

Diploma of Higher Education Open

CourseCourse
Diploma of Higher Education Open Copyrighted image Credit: The Open University / Karen Parker Updated content
Duration 2400 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
Studying at university level is not just about gaining a degree. We also offer a range of other qualifications, including Certificates and Diplomas...

BA (Honours) English Literature

CourseCourse
BA (Honours) English Literature Copyrighted image Credit: The Open University / Karen Parker Updated content
Duration 3600 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
English literature is a broad and accessible subject that is important in its own right and offers connections to a wide range of other kinds of...

BA (Honours) English Language and Literature

CourseCourse
BA (Honours) English Language and Literature Copyrighted image Credit: The Open University / Karen Parker Updated content
Duration 3600 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
This degree course offers a stimulating and wide-ranging introduction to English language and literature. You’ll have the opportunity to...

BA (Honours) Politics, Philosophy and Economics

CourseCourse
BA (Honours) Politics, Philosophy and Economics Copyrighted image Credit: Dreamstime Updated content
Duration 3600 hours Updated 26 Nov 2014
Where do social order (and disorder) come from? How can we make ourselves richer, and does society always gain? What does justice mean, how do we...