Skip to content
Nature & Environment

Nature & Environment

Explore our shared home and get to know the species you're sharing it with.

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: 91 items
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Environment: treading lightly on the Earth *new* free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Environment: treading lightly on the Earth *new*

Environment: treading lightly on the Earth focuses on the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide. This free course will give you an understanding of the nature and importance of carbon footprints of individuals and households. It will enable you to measure your own carbon footprint and explore what you could do to reduce that footprint and so ‘tread more lightly on the Earth’.

Free course
15 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Understanding water quality free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Understanding water quality

Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a world where there is climate change. Understanding water quality is a free course that helps explain the options.

Free course
10 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
An introduction to sustainable energy free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

An introduction to sustainable energy

The search for sustainable energy will dominate the twenty-first century. This free course, An introduction to sustainable energy, provides an introductory overview of the present energy systems and takes a brief look at where the world may find energy in the future - cleaner use of fossil fuels or renewable energy sources?

Free course
3 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
An introduction to energy resources free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

An introduction to energy resources

Energy resources are essential for any society, be it one dependent on subsistence farming or an industrialised country. There are many different sources of energy, some well-known such as coal or petroleum, others less so, such as tides or the heat inside the Earth. Is nuclear power a salvation or a nightmare? This free course, An introduction to energy resources, provides background information to each, so that you can ------ them for yourself.

Free course
8 hrs
Organisations, environmental management and innovation free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Organisations, environmental management and innovation

Do you want to discover more about how organisations innovate for environmental management? This free course, Organisations, environmental management and innovation, focuses on the innovations organisations are developing or using to manage contemporary environmental issues. It also covers how organisations are innovating thinking about environmental management.

Free course
12 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Water in the UK free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Water in the UK

Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a world where there is climate change. This free course looks at Water in the UK where water supplies are limited in certain areas, as shown by recent droughts.

Free course
7 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Animals at the extremes: The desert environment free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Animals at the extremes: The desert environment

Animal life has adapted to survive in the most unlikely and inhospitable habitats. This free course, Animals at the extremes: The desert environment, looks at the surprisingly diverse desert climates throughout the world and mammals, birds, lizards and amphibians that survive there. It splits these animals into three groups according to their strategy for survival: evaders, evaporators and endurers, then discusses how these strategies work on a biochemical and physiological level.

Free course
14 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City/Bridgeman Images
Exploring philosophy: faking nature free course icon Level 3 icon

History & The Arts 

Exploring philosophy: faking nature

Commercial exploitation of nature, such as mining, fracking, or generating hydro-electric power, often damages the way the natural environment looks. What if the environment could be restored to exactly how it looked before? Would that mean that no damage had been done, that the natural environment was as valuable as it had been before the commercial exploitation? This free course, Exploring philosophy: ------ nature, examines ‘the restoration thesis’, and provides an insight into philosophical study at postgraduate level.

Free course
9 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © Ale-ks/iStockphoto.com
Financial methods in environmental decisions free course icon Level 3 icon

Nature & Environment 

Financial methods in environmental decisions

This free course, Financial methods in environmental decisions, begins by introducing some of the tools that can be used to ------ the benefits of investment decisions, including ways of ------ing the ‘external costs’ – the wider costs and benefits to society as a whole – of environmental decisions.

Free course
10 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Life in the Palaeozoic free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Life in the Palaeozoic

Fossils are a glimpse into the distant past and fascinate young and old alike. This free course, Life in the Palaeozoic, will introduce you to the explosion of evolution that took place during the Palaeozoic era. You will look at the many different types of creatures that existed at that time and how they managed to evolve to exist on land.

Free course
12 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Animals at the extremes: Polar biology free course icon Level 2 icon

Nature & Environment 

Animals at the extremes: Polar biology

The extreme challenges of life in the polar regions require the animals who make their habitat there to make many adaptations. This free course, Animals at the extremes: Polar biology, explores the polar climate and how animals like reindeer, polar bears, penguins, sea life and even humans manage to survive there. It looks at the adaptations to physiological proceses, the environmental effects on diet, activity and fecundity, and contrasts the strategies of aquatic and land-based animals in surviving in this extreme habitat.

Free course
14 hrs
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission © NASA
Watching the weather free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Watching the weather

This free course, Watching the weather, describes how meteorological observations are made looking upwards from the surface of the Earth, looking downwards from satellites in space and from aircraft and balloons within the atmosphere. This international network of observations is vital for scientists and forecasters and the results impact on everyones daily activities.

Free course
10 hrs
Page 1 of 8
Page 1 of 8