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.

Free badged courses

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
Transport and sustainability Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: S.Potter free course icon Level 2 icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Transport and sustainability

This free course, Transport and sustainability, explores the issues around sustainable transport and how the role of technology and society can interact to lower the overall impact of transport.

Free course
12 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
Animals at the extremes: Polar biology Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Animals at the extremes: Polar biology

The extreme challenges of life in the polar regions require the animals who make their habitat there to make many adaptations. This free course, Animals at the extremes: Polar biology, explores the polar climate and how animals like reindeer, polar bears, penguins, sea life and even humans manage to survive there. It looks at the adaptations to physiological proceses, the environmental effects on diet, activity and fecundity, and contrasts the strategies of aquatic and land-based animals in surviving in this extreme habitat.

Free course
14 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
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
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
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

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
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
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