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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A growing selection of our courses offer a free Open University digital badge. Badges demonstrate your interest in a subject, a commitment to your career or provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Lunchtime learning

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: 85 items Grid List
Global water resources Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Global water resources

Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a world where there is climate change. This free course, Global water resources, examines the options.

Free course
2 hrs
Water for life Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Water for life

Atoms, elements and molecules are the building blocks of everything that makes up our world, including ourselves. In this free course, Water for life, you will learn the basic chemistry of how these components work together, starting with a chemical compound we are all very familiar with water.

Free course
15 hrs
'Land grab': an environmental issue? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © Tobias Helbig/ iStockphoto free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

'Land grab': an environmental issue?

This free course, 'Land grab': an environmental issue?, explores how environmental problems are entangled with economic and political issues and offers tools for making sense of the complexity that results. The case of land grab illustrates how everyday issues such as food prices are caught up in connections that link different places, different people and their livelihoods across the globe; connections that are brought to life in the course through rich audio-visual material and interactive activities.

Free course
8 hrs

Nature & Environment 

Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment

Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment is a free course. It begins with an introduction to water and goes on to briefly outline the major sources of water pollution (these being sewage works, manufacturing and industrial plants, the farming and animal husbandry sectors, landfill sites and urban surface water run-off). It considers the major water pollutants and describes the effects they have on water.

Free course
3 hrs
The environmental impact of teaching and learning free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

The environmental impact of teaching and learning

This free course, The environmental impact of teaching and learning, discusses the impact on the environment of carbon based teaching and learning in Higher Education Institutions. It introduces a suite of innovative tools and resources which have been designed to help assess and identify ways to reduce these impacts.

Free course
10 hrs
Migration free course icon Level 2 icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Migration

Migration is a free course looking at the migrations of animals, with special reference to birds, and also introducing the themes of movement, selection and homeostasis.

Free course
8 hrs
Changing cities free course icon Level 3 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Changing cities

Urban processes are increasingly held to be responsible for causing a variety of problems environmental destruction, social injustice, global financial instability. They are also identified as harbouring the potential to meet these challenges through urban experiments in sustainable living, creative culture and alternative economies. This free course, Changing cities, explores how contemporary processes of urbanisation challenge how we think about political agency, providing a framework for the analysis of the causes, implications and responses to issues of common concern.

Free course
15 hrs
Introducing environmental decision making Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

Nature & Environment 

Introducing environmental decision making

Many of the decisions we make have implications for our environment, particularly those concerning natural resources and waste. Taking account of environmental factors in decision making can be both complex and challenging. This free course, Introducing environmental decision making, considers decisions in their broader contexts and advocates a systems approach to environmental decision making.

Free course
24 hrs
Unclear about nuclear? free course icon Level 1 icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Unclear about nuclear?

Young people (18+) who are interested in but unsure about entering the nuclear industry will find assistance in this free course, Unclear about nuclear? It will help develop their understanding of nuclear energy, improve their study and maths skills in a nuclear context and aid them in investigating further training (within and beyond the OU) or employment opportunities in the nuclear industry.

Free course
20 hrs
Operations, technology and stakeholder value Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

Nature & Environment 

Operations, technology and stakeholder value

The management of processes or operations is the very essence of any kind of business enterprise, and it is critically important that they are designed and managed well. This free course, Operations, technology and stakeholder value, uses case studies and models to illustrate the importance of effective operations management and outlines the steps to preparing your own operations proposal.

Free course
40 hrs

Nature & Environment 

Earth's physical resources: petroleum

The discovery of the world's first major underground oil field in Pennsylvania, USA in 1859 sparked the continuing era of the world's reliance on cheap energy from oil and gas. This free course, Earth's physical resources: petroleum, begins by examining the geological characteristics of petroleum and the key ingredients necessary to form oil and gas accumulations. Then there is a brief description of industrial operations during the life cycle of an oil field, starting with subsurface analysis and exploration drilling. The course also highlights the role of safety and environmental management as an integral part of the petroleum business and concludes with a short review of global resources and non-conventional petroleum.

Free course
12 hrs
Global warming Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Global warming

This free course provides an introduction to global warming. We will be considering the history of global warming by looking at the pattern of ice ages and analysis of recorded temperatures. We will aim to gather meaningful information from this data. We will briefly assess the impact and influence of humans on global warming and, finally, we will examine climate models and how to predict future changes.

Free course
5 hrs
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