Skip to content
History & The Arts

History & The Arts

Explore culture, conflict, and the things that make us human.

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.

All topics
Grid List Results: 145 items
Simone de Beauvoir and the feminist revolution free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

Simone de Beauvoir and the feminist revolution

In this free course you will study the ideas of philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986). In doing so you will also briefly study the philosophy of Beauvoir’s lifelong partner, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. The type of philosophy that links them is called ‘existentialism’. Beauvoir and Sartre are the foremost philosophers of French existentialism. You will read extracts of Beauvoir’s work and learn about the existential view of the human being as free and responsible for his or her actions. You will discover that Beauvoir argues that women are generally conceived of as ‘Other’, that is different from a supposed neutral human being. This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A113 Revolutions63and is part of a set of four OpenLearn courses, covering Revolutions of the Sixties64. Transcript

Free course
4 hrs
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: © Debu55y | Dreamstime.com
The history of female protest and suffrage in the UK free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

The history of female protest and suffrage in the UK

This free course focuses on one example of democratic protest: the campaign to extend the vote to women in the UK. In the course you'll be introduced to two key figures in the campaign, Ada Nield Chew and May Billinghurst, and you'll look at the ways in which the Women's Social and Political Union, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and the First World War shaped and affected the battle for the vote.

Free course
10 hrs
Janis Joplin and the Sexual Revolution free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

Janis Joplin and the Sexual Revolution

This free course, Janis Joplin and the Sexual Revolution, will introduce you to issues around the sexual revolution and how this, and other contemporary social revolutions of the 1960s, impacted upon American rock musician Janis Joplin (1943-1970). You will investigate the extent to which the contemporary sexual revolution brought about greater gender equality for female popular musicians such as Janis Joplin, and consider whether it might be more accurate to view this as a superficial revolution which masked the reality of continued sexual conservatism. You do not need to play an instrument, to sing, to read music or have any prior musical knowledge to be able to complete this course. This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A113 Revolutionsand is part of a set of four OpenLearn courses, covering Revolutions of the Sixties. Transcript

Free course
3 hrs
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Chinnapong; Getty Images
Digital Humanities: Humanities research in the digital age free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

Digital Humanities: Humanities research in the digital age

This free course will prepare you for the challenges of doing research in an increasingly digital world. It introduces the methods of Digital Humanities and explains how research methods in the Humanities can be combined with digital media and technologies. After completing the course, you will be able to analyse, understand and use digital content, to ------ information technologies critically, and to integrate digitally-driven methodologies and media to develop your own research.

Free course
10 hrs
A spiritual revolution? Wicca and religious change in the 1960s free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

A spiritual revolution? Wicca and religious change in the 1960s

This free course, A spiritual revolution? Wicca and religious change in the 1960s looks at the ‘crisis’ of traditional religion in the Sixties in the Western world. It explores the process of religious renewal, looking at the development of Wicca, the prototypical form of modern Paganism. Originally presented as a Goddess religion of great antiquity, which had survived the Roman invasion and Church persecution, Wicca is in fact best seen as a new religion, clearly belonging to an age in which sexual norms, gender roles and traditional power structures were changing. It questions to what degree we can view religious change in the 1960s as spiritual revolution. This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A113 Revolutions63. and is part of a set of four OpenLearn courses, covering Revolutions of the Sixties. Transcript

Free course
3 hrs
The American Civil Rights Movement free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

The American Civil Rights Movement

In this free course, The American Civil Rights Movement, you will learn about the mass movement for racial equality in the United States that reached its zenith during the 1950s and 1960s. During this turbulent period in United States history, black Americans sought to overturn deeply entrenched systems of racial segregation and discrimination. This course discusses the key events in this campaign for social justice, drawing on a wide range of primary sources. In doing so, it assesses the achievements, shortcomings and revolutionary qualities of the civil rights movement.Use of racial language and terms This course deals with topics involving racial issues. Since the societies being studied were characterised by deeply-held and widespread racist views, this course contains language that is also racist. Although these may provoke a strong personal response, we believe it is necessary to engage with such attitudes to reach a clear understanding of the past. This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A113 Revolutionsand is part of a set of four OpenLearn courses, covering Revolutions of the Sixties.  Transcript

Free course
3 hrs
Creative commons image Icon Bernard Gagnon; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en under Creative-Commons license
The ethics of cultural heritage free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

The ethics of cultural heritage

This free course, The ethics of cultural heritage, provides the basic theory behind the protection of cultural property in war zones and is presented in three parts: the protection of cultural property; the legal basis for that protection; and accounts of proportionality (that is, on deciding whether or not there is a feasible alternative to damaging cultural property).

Free course
12 hrs
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: © stevanovicigor; iStockphoto.com
Discovering music through listening free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

Discovering music through listening

This free course, Discovering music through listening, will introduce you to the musical elements used by musicians to create a piece of music: pulse, tempo, metre, harmony, structure, texture, timbre and dynamics. You'll learn how to identify the different musical elements by taking a particular approach to listening to the music, known as close listening. Alongside developing your listening skills, you will learn how to explain what you hear using technical language.

Free course
9 hrs
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Kurt Wittman / Omni-Photo Communications, Inc. / Universal Images Group
Discovering music: the blues free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

Discovering music: the blues

This free course, Discovering music: the blues, will introduce you to a musical tradition with roots in the nineteenth century but which is still relevant to making music today. You will learn about how the lyrics of blues songs reflect the social environment in which they were created, and about the musical techniques that underpin the structures of blues songs. You do not need to play an instrument, to sing or have any prior musical knowledge to be able to complete this course.

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

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
Health and wellbeing in the ancient world free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

Health and wellbeing in the ancient world

This free course, Health and wellbeing in the ancient world, investigates the health of people in ancient Greece and Rome, using both literary and archaeological evidence to uncover details of real life in ancient societies.

Free course
18 hrs
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: MatiasEnElMundoi/Stock/Getty Images Plus
Reading Shakespeare's As You Like It free course icon Level

History & The Arts 

Reading Shakespeare's As You Like It

Do you enjoy watching Shakespeare's plays and like the idea of finding out more about them? This free course, Reading Shakespeare's As You Like It, will guide you through some of the most important speeches and scenes from one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies.

Free course
6 hrs
Page 1 of 13
Page 1 of 13