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.

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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: 101 items Grid List
Why maps are made Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Why maps are made

Cars have sat nav systems, mobile phones use GPS: maps are important in everyday life whether captured by aerial photography, satellite imagery or simply drawn. This free course, Why maps are made, looks at how we read and evaluate the information in maps and assesses the values embedded within them. From mental maps to public transport and street maps: how do they affect your life?

Free course
8 hrs
Scottish courts and the law free course icon Level 1 icon Badge icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Scottish courts and the law

This free course, Scottish courts and the law, explores the role, function and purpose of the courts in Scotland and their relationship with the law. You consider the way in which cases come to court, the difference between the criminal and civil justice systems, the separation of powers, how individuals may become involved with the court system, the alternatives to courts that have evolved in recent decades and future advances that are being considered. You learn about the work of lawyers and the judiciary and explore how Scottish courts and tribunals operate in an open and transparent way working to ensure justice.

Free course
24 hrs
Psychology in the 21st century Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Psychology in the 21st century

Psychology is not a simple subject. This free course, Psychology in the 21st century, examines how different aspects of human behaviour provide the focus for different psychologists. Using learning as an example, you will discover how many different approaches can be adopted, thus illustrating that there is no single way of answering psychological questions.

Free course
12 hrs
Passports: identity and airports Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © ArtWell/Shutterstock.com free course icon Level 2 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Passports: identity and airports

This free course, Passports: identity and airports, offers a sociological analysis of the modern airport. Using a lively mixture of videos, interactive exercises and readings, the course explores how the social world of the airport is made and maintained. In particular, it investigates how the processes that constitute this world - queuing, check in, security clearance, moving around and so on - depend on relations between people and material objects.

Free course
8 hrs

Society, Politics & Law 

Discovering disorder: young people and delinquency

This free course, Discovering disorder: young people and delinquency, will introduce two approaches to understanding juvenile delinquency. The psychological approach focuses on examining what makes some individuals, but not others, behave badly. The sociological approach looks at why some individuals and some behaviours, but not others, are defined as disorderly.

Free course
8 hrs
Company law in context Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Company law in context

The legal issues involved in setting up and running a business can be complex and confusing, especially when some of the terms used don't seem to have clear meanings. Company law in context is a free course from the College of Law, offering a basic introduction to the legal concepts of companies, partnerships, assets and liabilities.

Free course
10 hrs
Attention Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Attention

What does 'attention' mean to you? This free course, Attention, will help you to examine how we 'pay attention'. How do we manage to single out sounds and images that require attention and how easy is it to distract someone and why.

Free course
10 hrs

Society, Politics & Law 

Seeing institutions in different ways

To help you to understand the complexity of institutional development, this free course, Seeing institutions in different ways, will present institutions in three key ways: as rules and norms, as meanings and values and as big players. The rules govern social life and the norms establish how people should behave, while institutional development is about changing the rules. Meanings help people make sense of their lives and values indicate what is good or bad, while institutional development brings in new values. The big players are individuals and organisations with the power to shape social life, while institutional development struggles over what social life should be like.

Free course
12 hrs
Crimes of the powerful free course icon Level 3 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Crimes of the powerful

This free course examines the complexities of, and barriers to, setting new criminological research agendas by considering the difficulties associated with conducting research on crimes of the powerful.

Free course
2 hrs
The meaning of crime Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © free course icon Level 1 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

The meaning of crime

Tough on the causes of crime'. A famous phrase, but what is crime? This free course, The meaning of crime, examines how we, as a 'society', define crime. You will look at the fear that is generated within communities and what evidence is available to support claims that are made about crime rates.

Free course
8 hrs
Information technology: A new era? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Information technology: A new era?

Do the advances in information technology equate to a new industrial revolution? The advances made by IBM, Dell and many other manufacturers have resulted in massive changes to our working lives. This free course, Information technology: A new era?, looks at whether it is possible to predict the future of this industry by comparing it to the development of the automobile industry in the USA.

Free course
15 hrs
Nuclear power: Friend or foe? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Nuclear power: Friend or foe?

Are you for or against nuclear energy? The necessity to respond to climate change has put nuclear energy back on the political agenda as an alternative energy source. This is part of approaches to 'decarbonise' energy through a shift from coal to natural gas, nuclear energy and renewables. Yet, the recourse to nuclear energy is hotly debated. Opponents are rife, as are supporters. Can you adopt each position in turn? This free course, Nuclear power: Friend or foe?, challenges you to do so.

Free course
2 hrs
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