Free courses

Free courses

Produced by The Open University, a world leader in open and distance learning, all OpenLearn courses are free to study. We offer nearly 1000 free courses across 8 different subject areas. Our courses are available to start right away.

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Got a few spare minutes? Brush up on your knowledge with our range of free bite-size courses and activities.

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Results: 103 items Grid List
Icarus: entering the world of myth Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © EC Hellex/iStockphoto.com free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Icarus: entering the world of myth

This free course, Icarus: entering the world of myth, will introduce you to one of the best-known myths from classical antiquity and its various re-tellings in later periods. You will begin by examining how the Icarus story connects with a number of other ancient myths, such as that of Theseus and the Minotaur. You will then be guided through an in-depth reading of Icarus’ story as told by the Roman poet Ovid, one of the most important and sophisticated figures in the history of ancient myth-making. After this you will study the way in which Ovid’s Icarus myth has been reworked and transformed by later poets and painters.

Free course
3 hrs
Start writing fiction Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Start writing fiction

Have you always wanted to write, but never quite had the courage to start? This free course, Start writing fiction, will give you an insight into how authors create their characters and settings. You will also be able to look at the different genres for fiction.

Free course
12 hrs

History & The Arts 

Exploring Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts

This free course introduces Virginia Woolf’s last novel, Between the Acts (1941), with the aim of understanding how she writes about time, memory, and ideas about identity. It also considers why Woolf’s fiction is often considered difficult. Selected extracts from her essays on writing help to clarify some of these perceived difficulties, illuminating complex patterning and structure in this fictional account of an English village, on a day in June in 1939.

Free course
6 hrs
The Holocaust Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

History & The Arts 

The Holocaust

This free course explores the Holocaust, as the destruction of European Jewry is commonly known. The mass killing represented by the Holocaust raises many questions concerning the development of European civilisation during the twentieth century. This course, therefore, covers essential ground if you wish to understand this development.

Free course
12 hrs

History & The Arts 

Dutch painting of the Golden Age

Seventeenth-century Dutch painting stands out from other art of the same period and even more so from that of previous centuries on account of its apparently ‘everyday’ character. Works by artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch and Jacob van Ruisdael seem to offer a faithful picture of life in the Netherlands at the time. In studying this free course, Dutch painting of the Golden Age, you will discover that there is much more to Dutch painting than meets the eye. You will explore scholarly debates about the possible meanings that might be attributed to this type of picture and learn how the very idea of ‘realism’ in art has been challenged in recent times.

Free course
4 hrs

History & The Arts 

Understanding musical scores

This free course, Understanding musical scores, provides a general introduction to how to understand a musical score, and insights into what professional musicians do with the notation that these contain. You’ll learn how to connect the notation you see with the music you hear, from short familiar melodies to a full orchestral score.

Free course
12 hrs
Visions of protest: Graffiti free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Visions of protest: Graffiti

This free course, Visions of protest: Graffiti, introduces students to contrasting understandings of graffiti. It draws on a wide range of graffiti examples, including mystery zebras in Hackney, fish graffiti in Morecambe, 'tags' in a Milton Keynes underpass, a McDonald's advert and exhibits at a highly established art gallery, the Tate Modern. Students will consider different arguments for and against the perception of graffiti as a form of art or as vandalism and explore how graffiti has been used as a form of communication and as an articulation of protest.

Free course
8 hrs
Hadrian's Rome free course icon Level 3 icon

History & The Arts 

Hadrian's Rome

This free course, Hadrian's Rome, explores the city of Rome during the reign of the emperor Hadrian (117-38 CE). What impact did the emperor have on the appearance of the city? What types of structures were built and why? And how did the choices that Hadrian made relate to those of his predecessors, and also of his successors?

Free course
10 hrs
Wilberforce Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Wilberforce

William Wilberforce, the politician and religious writer, was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in Britain. This free course explores Wilberforce's career and writings and assesses their historical significance. In particular, it examines the contribution that Evangelicalism, the religious tradition to which Wilberforce belonged, made in the transitions between the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Throughout it relates Wilberforce's career and writings to wider social and cultural developments in Britain, with special regard for British reaction to the French Revolution.

Free course
16 hrs
Start writing fiction: characters and stories free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Start writing fiction: characters and stories

Start writing fiction is a free course that helps you to get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central skill of creating characters.

Free course
24 hrs
Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

The free course, Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin, gives a taste of what it is like to learn two ancient languages. It is for those who have encountered the classical world through translations of Greek and Latin texts and wish to know more about the languages in which these works were composed.

Free course
12 hrs
Writing what you know Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Writing what you know

Do you want to improve your descriptive writing? This free course, Writing what you know, will help you to develop your perception of the world about you and enable you to see the familiar things in everyday life in a new light. You will also learn how authors use their own personal histories to form the basis of their work.

Free course
8 hrs
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