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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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: 118 items Grid List
Language in the real world Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Courtesy © Neil Mitchell free course icon Level 3 icon

Languages 

Language in the real world

This free course, Language in the real world, explains and illustrates why a knowledge about how language works (i.e. ‘linguistics’) is helpful – some might say essential – for different aspects of our everyday lives. It provides an introduction to ideas around what language is and to the field of Applied Linguistics, which is dedicated to exploring and addressing situations where language plays a crucial role.

Free course
6 hrs

History & The Arts 

Understanding musical scores

This free course, Understanding musical scores, provides a general introduction to how to understand a musical score, and insights into what professional musicians do with the notation that these contain. You’ll learn how to connect the notation you see with the music you hear, from short familiar melodies to a full orchestral score.

Free course
12 hrs
English grammar in context Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

Education & Development 

English grammar in context

What are the differences between spoken and written English? Is use of grammar more or less complex than it appears? This free course, English grammar in context, looks at the way grammar can be used as a tool for adapting our communications (both written and spoken). This OpenLearn course will help you to see how language is intertwined with both describing a view of the world and interacting with others in that world.

Free course
15 hrs
Veiling free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Veiling

This free course explores controversies associated with the practice of 'veiling' within Islam. The Islamic 'veil', be it in the form of the hijab, niqab, jilbab or burqa (we shall explore this terminology in more detail later), has been at the centre of many different controversies. Many of these controversies can be understood in the context of debates about different citizenship models and different understandings of the roles, rights and demands of faith groups in society. In some instances, such controversies have resulted in legal disputes and the creation of new laws.

Free course
10 hrs

History & The Arts 

Exploring Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts

This free course introduces Virginia Woolf’s last novel, Between the Acts (1941), with the aim of understanding how she writes about time, memory, and ideas about identity. It also considers why Woolf’s fiction is often considered difficult. Selected extracts from her essays on writing help to clarify some of these perceived difficulties, illuminating complex patterning and structure in this fictional account of an English village, on a day in June in 1939.

Free course
6 hrs
Brighton Pavilion Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Brighton Pavilion

In this free course, Brighton Pavilion, we examine the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, and its relationship to nineteenth-century Romanticism and exoticism. We begin with a biographical discussion of the Prince of Wales, afterwards Prince Regent and eventually King George IV, to whose specifications the Pavilion was built. With the help of video and still images we take a tour of the Pavilion, examining the exterior then a series of interior rooms as a visitor in the 1820s may have experienced them. Besides this we look at contemporary aesthetic, cultural and political reactions to the building, its contents and its social milieu.

Free course
16 hrs
Getting started on classical Latin Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Art Archive/Alamy free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Getting started on classical Latin

This free course, Getting started on classical Latin, has been developed in response to requests from learners who had had no contact with Latin before and who felt they would like to spend a little time preparing for the kind of learning that studying a classical language involves. The course will give you a taster of what is involved in the very early stages of learning Latin and will offer you the opportunity to put in some early practice.

Free course
10 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
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
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
Language and creativity free course icon Level 2 icon

Languages 

Language and creativity

This free course is an introduction to the relationship between language and creativity, to the roles that linguistic creativity plays in culture and society, and to the different approaches to its study.

Free course
8 hrs
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