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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: 118 items Grid List
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
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
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
The Holocaust Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

History & The Arts 

The Holocaust

This free course explores the Holocaust, as the destruction of European Jewry is commonly known. The mass killing represented by the Holocaust raises many questions concerning the development of European civilisation during the twentieth century. This course, therefore, covers essential ground if you wish to understand this development.

Free course
12 hrs
Artists and authorship: the case of Raphael Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Scala, Florence free course icon Level 3 icon

History & The Arts 

Artists and authorship: the case of Raphael

Individual artists have been the traditional focus of art history, but how do we evaluate the figure of the artist? This free course, Artists and authorship: the case of Raphael, takes the life of Raphael as a case study. You will examine sixteenth-century sources to explore the creation of artistic authorship in the early modern era. The course explores past and current approaches to the artist in terms of authorship, identity and subjectivity. You will consider issues such as the relationship between the artist's life and work, the enduring notion of 'genius' and the artist as a source of meaning.

Free course
10 hrs
English: skills for learning Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © PepitolPhotos/Istockphoto.com free course icon Level 1 icon Badge icon

Education & Development 

English: skills for learning

English: skills for learning, is a free course for anybody who is thinking of studying for a university degree and would like to develop the English reading and writing skills needed to succeed. You will learn through a range of engaging activities aimed at extending your existing language skills.

Free course
24 hrs

History & The Arts 

Dutch painting of the Golden Age

Seventeenth-century Dutch painting stands out from other art of the same period and even more so from that of previous centuries on account of its apparently ‘everyday’ character. Works by artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch and Jacob van Ruisdael seem to offer a faithful picture of life in the Netherlands at the time. In studying this free course, Dutch painting of the Golden Age, you will discover that there is much more to Dutch painting than meets the eye. You will explore scholarly debates about the possible meanings that might be attributed to this type of picture and learn how the very idea of ‘realism’ in art has been challenged in recent times.

Free course
4 hrs
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
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