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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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Results: 121 items Grid List
Religious diversity: rethinking religion Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Religious diversity: rethinking religion

Religion is not necessarily what you think it is! This free course, Religious diversity: rethinking religion, introduces you to a selection of the vast variety of religious beliefs and practices in Britain today. Having some familiarity with religion and belief is increasingly required to make sense of issues of local, national and international importance. The course will introduce you to issues and skills necessary for better understanding and interacting with religiously-motivated people in today’s world. It will explore some religious places and practices and will give more confidence to interact with contemporary religious diversity in an informed way.

Free course
12 hrs
Exploring books for children: words and pictures Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Courtesy of Jackie Tuck free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Exploring books for children: words and pictures

Many people have fond memories of the stories they encountered in childhood, perhaps especially of those wonderful picture books and illustrated tales which fired our young imaginations and transported us to magical worlds. To an adult’s eye, some picture books may seem remarkably simple, even oversimplified. However, in this free course, Exploring books for children: words and pictures, you will learn how children’s books use words and pictures together in remarkably sophisticated ways to communicate both to young and older readers, drawing on examples from the classics, such as Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit, and from contemporary children’s authors such as Anthony Browne, author of Gorilla.

Free course
8 hrs
Studying religion Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Studying religion

This free course, Studying religion, will give you an opportunity to think about some of the key concepts and methods of the discipline of Religious Studies. You will meet examples of different forms of religious practice and belief, mostly from Britain and India.

Free course
20 hrs
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

History & The Arts 

National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780–1840

What is a ‘nation’? What is a ‘state’? Where have these ideas come from and how have they developed over time? This free course, National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780-1840, explores how the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland was formed. It then moves to analyse the distinctions between the terms ‘nation’ and ‘state’. Finally, it evaluates the role of national identities in British popular politics during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Free course
4 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
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
Art and life in ancient Egypt Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Art and life in ancient Egypt

Around 1350 BC, the Egyptian grain accountant Nebamun commissioned the walls of his tomb-chapel to be painted with scenes depicting his afterlife, and the world in which he lived. Nebamun worked in the temple of Amun at Karnak during the reign of Amenhotep III (c. 1390-1352 BC). Amenhotep was one of the most important kings of the 18th Dynasty, one of the high points of Egyptian wealth, but his reign preceded a period of dramatic upheaval in Egyptian society. In 1820 eleven pieces were removed from the walls of the tomb-chapel, location now unknown, and were acquired by the British Museum, where they are now iconic masterpieces of the collection. This free course explores the history and meaning of these paintings.

Free course
30 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
The origins of the wars of the three kingdoms Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

The origins of the wars of the three kingdoms

From Catholic rebellion to Civil War, what happened during the latter years of the reign of Charles I that caused people to take up arms against their fellow citizens? This free course, The origins of the wars of the three kingdoms, looks at the background of the wars between England, Scotland and Ireland and how the king's actions led to the rift between royalists and parliamentarians.

Free course
12 hrs
Dundee, jute and empire Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Dundee, jute and empire

Britain was the first country to industrialise, and it acquired the largest empire ever during this same period. But its sphere of economic influence extended far beyond the boundaries of the formal British Empire. This free course, Dundee, jute and empire, focuses on the economics of empire, using a case study of one town, Dundee in eastern Scotland, to explore this huge topic.

Free course
12 hrs
Religion today: Themes and issues Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

History & The Arts 

Religion today: Themes and issues

There is a widespread perception in the West that we live in a secular age, an age in which religion is at best an optional extra, if not a false delusion completely out of place. However, religion still arouses passion and causes controversy; it controls and transforms lives. An informed understanding of the contemporary world thus requires an appreciation of the role of religion in shaping ideas, world-views and actions that have an impact on the social as well as on the personal life of the individual. This free course, Religion today: Themes and issues, gives you a glimpse into this fascinating area.

Free course
15 hrs
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