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Nature & Environment

Nature & Environment

Explore our shared home and get to know the species you're sharing it with.

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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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Grid List Results: 85 items
Surviving the winter Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Surviving the winter

In this free course, Surviving the winter, we study one aspect of the fluctuating nature of an organisms environment. We consider how organisms living in a temperate climate, such as that in Britain, are adapted to cope with winter. You will see that there is much diversity of adaptations among organisms, with different species coping with the demands of a fluctuating environment in quite different ways. As cyclic variations are a widespread feature of environments, the range of adaptations to them is an important source of biological diversity.

Free course
10 hrs
Evolution: artificial selection and domestication Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Evolution: artificial selection and domestication

In the 18th and 19th century evolutionary biologists, including Darwin, emphasised the similarities between natural evolution and artificial 'improvement' of livestock under domestication. They believed that studying domesticated animals and plants could illuminate the mechanisms of natural evolution. This free course, Evolution: artificial selection and domestication, provides an introduction to their work.

Free course
5 hrs
Watching the weather Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission © NASA free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Watching the weather

This free course, Watching the weather, describes how meteorological observations are made looking upwards from the surface of the Earth, looking downwards from satellites in space and from aircraft and balloons within the atmosphere. This international network of observations is vital for scientists and forecasters and the results impact on everyones daily activities.

Free course
10 hrs
Microbes – friend or foe? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: selvanegra/istockphoto.com free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Microbes – friend or foe?

Microbes often get a bad name. Whilst some of them do cause disease, others play vital roles in recycling nutrients in the soil to enable plants to grow, and in breaking down human waste. Without microbes, we would have no beer, no yoghurt, no coffee. That's quite impressive for something too small to see. This free course, Microbes friend or foe? sheds some light on them.

Free course
10 hrs
Nature matters in conversation Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

Nature & Environment 

Nature matters in conversation

This free course, Nature matters in conversation, focuses on the substance of environmental responsibility-what matters. The question 'What should constitute our prime focus of attention' can prompt different responses. We consider two points of contrast in differing focuses on what matters: 1 a distinction between nature and the environment 2 a distinction between nature/environment and related human interactions

Free course
12 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
'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
School activities: Evolutionary tree of mammals Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

School activities: Evolutionary tree of mammals

This introduction to the evolution of mammals considers Darwin's observations on mammals and how he noticed that species fell into natural groups. This free course, School activities: Evolutionary tree of mammals, looks at evidence from fossils and DNA to examine which mammals are most closely related to whales.

Free course
5 hrs
Water use and the water cycle Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Water use and the water cycle

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. Water use and the water cycle is a free course designed to give the student an introduction to the subject.

Free course
10 hrs
Environmental management and organisations free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Environmental management and organisations

It is believed that environmental management requires action at all levels and by organisations of all types and sizes. However it is not always clear what we mean by environmental management and the role that organisations do and could play. This free course, explores the different interpretations and viewpoints involved by using system thinking to provide a framework with which to better understand environmental management and organisations.

Free course
15 hrs
Neighbourhood nature Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Neighbourhood nature

There is a fascinating world of nature all around us which we can see if we know how to look for it. Wherever you live, be it in a city or the countryside, you will find areas that support a range of wildlife. This free course, Neighbourhood nature, will provide you with basic scientific and observational skills so that you can go into your local neighbourhood to discover the animals and plants in open spaces. You will learn how to observe, identify and record the wildlife around you, building up a picture of a small part of your local environment.

Free course
1 hr
Energy in buildings free course icon Level 3 icon

Nature & Environment 

Energy in buildings

Themes covered in this free course, Energy in buildings, include reducing heating demand in buildings, heating systems and fuel emissions, and reducing electricity use by appliances. The course looks at the importance of energy in buildings in the UK, investigate heat loss and how to prevent it, ways of increasing building efficiency, decreasing CO2 emissions of different fuels and the use of efficient appliances.

Free course
10 hrs
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