Find out more about The Open University's Business and Management courses and qualifications
Start Up Loans is committed to helping UK business owners realise their business dreams. Whether that’s making a business idea a reality, or helping new businesses to grow, through funding, mentoring and support, we’re here to help UK businesses get off the ground.
With the experts at The Open University, we’ve identified a range of free, useful courses – covering a whole host of business essentials – to do the same. The courses provide a rich source of vital information for anyone that’s new to being their own boss, as well as would-be business owners who are considering taking the plunge. Covering digital skills to bookkeeping and accounting, they’re designed to help business owners understand more about the key aspects of running a business – from the day-to-day to growing your venture. Alongside the business essentials, you can now find courses focusing on climate and sustainability, mental health and wellbeing, as well as trauma and grief.
Who are we?
Start Up Loans provides government-backed loans and support for UK businesses that struggle to access finance. We’ve helped almost 85,000 businesses from all across the UK, start up and grow with loans of between £500 and £25,000, as well as mentoring and support. Because of that, we’re familiar with the challenges businesses can face. The free courses we’ve selected with The Open University have been chosen with those exact challenges in mind.
Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
This free course, Entrepreneurship: from ideas to reality, is about starting and running your own business. Using case studies it will take you through the decisions from generating initial ideas through to deciding what you will do and how to establish your business and grow it. It will guide you through business models, funding options, ...
Rural entrepreneurship in Wales
What are the important issues to consider when starting up or running a small business in a rural environment? This free course, Rural entrepreneurship in Wales, will introduce you to some concepts and models that will help you work out what you want to do with your business idea and to consider the impact of living in a rural location.
Personal branding for career success
This free course, Personal branding for career success, considers what a personal brand is and whether you currently have one. You’ll look in detail at theories and examples of personal branding, and relevant marketing processes and practices. You’ll identify the values, skills, knowledge and expertise that you want to promote to employers, and ...
Finance and accounting
MSE’s Academy of Money
The Open University has joined forces with MoneySavingExpert (MSE) to produce this new free course to give you the skills and knowledge to master your finances. Packed with videos, audios, quizzes and activities the course covers all the key aspects of personal finance in six sessions of study that each take around two hours to complete.
Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting
Learn about the essential numerical skills required for accounting and bookkeeping. This free course, Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting, explains the fundamental rules of double-entry bookkeeping and how they are used to produce the balance sheet and the profit and loss account.
Career and leadership
Do you hate making decisions? Does the ability of others to make snap decisions really frustrate you? This free course will help you understand some of the processes involved in decision making. Attention to the psychology of decision making and the social context in which decisions are made can improve your understanding of others and yourself.
Planning a better future
Planning a better future is an introductory course for anyone considering changing jobs, wondering how to move up the ladder or return to work after a break, and those who might be looking to aspire to better things.
Leadership and followership
This free course, Leadership and followership, will help you to explore what makes a good leader, recognise common leadership challenges, and identify the skills you need to develop if you want to enhance your own leadership experience.
Marketing and commercial awareness
Marketing in the 21st Century
This free course, Marketing in the 21st century, offers a managerial perspective on how to deliver more effective marketing in an organisation, regardless of whether it is based in the private, public or non-profit sector. This is achieved through a variety of learning techniques, including case studies, videos, activities and group discussions....
This short course encourages you to look across your organisation, at your place within it and the value you create. It considers how getting different perspectives and widening existing ones within your organisation can enhance commercial awareness.
Marketing communications as a strategic function
Marketing communications help to define an organisation's relationship with its customers. This free course, Marketing communications as a strategic function, emphasises the strategic importance of such communication and its long-term effect on consumers. Communication models can act as a predictive guide, but in the end it is important to ...
Sustainability in the workplace
Energy in buildings
Themes covered in this free course, Energy in buildings, include reducing heating demand in buildings, heating systems and fuel emissions, and reducing electricity use by appliances. The course looks at the importance of energy in buildings in the UK, investigate heat loss and how to prevent it, ways of increasing building efficiency, ...
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 assess the benefits of investment decisions, including ways of assessing the ‘external costs’ – the wider costs and benefits to society as a whole – of environmental decisions.
Future energy demand and supply
When you consider that the global annual consumption of primary energy increased more than ten-fold during the 20th Century, the importance of planning future energy supply becomes clear. Future energy demand and supply is a free course that offers an introduction to how this is being undertaken.
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 ...
Introducing environmental decision making
Many of the decisions we make have implications for our environment, particularly those concerning natural resources and waste. Taking account of environmental factors in decision making can be both complex and challenging. This free course, Introducing environmental decision making, considers decisions in their broader contexts and advocates a ...
Operations, technology and stakeholder value
The management of processes or operations is the very essence of any kind of business enterprise, and it is critically important that they are designed and managed well. This free course, Operations, technology and stakeholder value, uses case studies and models to illustrate the importance of effective operations management and outlines the ...
Climate and sustainability
Could we control our climate?
Climate crisis is one of the grand challenges we face as a society, but it can be hard to approach as a subject. Not only can the science at times seem dauntingly complex, but the solutions are also far from clear. This leaves many people feeling confused, guilty, anxious, angry, or else completely switched off from the subject. This course ...
Climate change: transitions to sustainability
Human societies have to take urgent action to end their dependences on fossil fuels. We have to alter the whole path of our development and decision making in order to make our societies both environmentally adaptable and sustainable. This free course, Climate change, takes on the task of trying to chart some of the ways in which it might be ...
Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment
Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment is a free course. It begins with an introduction to water and goes on to briefly outline the major sources of water pollution (these being sewage works, manufacturing and industrial plants, the farming and animal husbandry sectors, landfill sites and urban surface water run-off). It considers ...
Understanding the environment: A systems approach
There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. Understanding the environment: A systems approach, is a free course whose...
Working with our environment: an introduction
Global warming: are we responsible? Is our environmental impact damaging the planet? This free course, Working with our environment: an introduction, examines the use of ozone-depleting technology, the impact of fossil fuel use and explores how the development of technology can influence the direction of a society. From the Industrial Revolution...
Understanding the environment: Thinking styles and models
This is the first course in the 'Understanding the environment' series. For more information, see the introductory session here339.
Teamwork and communication
Effective communication in the workplace
This free course, Effective communication in the workplace, explores the importance of communication as a skill in the workplace. It aims to increase your understanding of communication skills and to help you to consider how your communication could be perceived by others. You'll cover areas such as verbal and non-verbal communication, written ...
Managing and managing people
This free course, Managing and managing people, will introduce you to the world of management. We will be looking at a range of topics, including what managers do, what skills they require, and how you can develop as a manager.
This free course, Collective leadership, will give you an insight into the importance of how to be a more effective leader, and how to better engage and work with ‘followers’ in an organisational setting.
Succeed in the workplace
Do you want to change jobs, are you just starting in the job market or may be returning after a break? If so, then this free course, Succeed in the workplace, is for you. It will help you explore career opportunities. You will also gain the skills to write strong CVs and application forms, and to handle different types of interviews. By the end ...
Key skill assessment: improving your own learning and performance
Learning new skills is what makes us human but can we improve how we go about learning new things in new situations? Learning how to learn can help you to understand what works for you and what doesn't when you set out to learn new skills, either for work, your education, training or everyday life. In this free course, Key skill assessment: ...
Key skills: making a difference
This free course, Key skills: making a difference, focuses on higher level skills. Skills development is complementary to other learning it cannot be done in isolation. The higher level skills in this material aim to raise your awareness of the processes of learning and development other subject-based material must supply the context and ...
Mental health and wellbeing
Making sense of mental health problems
Over the past century there has been a radical shift in responses to people who experience mental health problems. In this free course, Making sense of mental health problems, you will learn about how key perspectives in the field have made sense of mental health problems. By directly relating key perspectives to a case study, you will reflect ...
Understanding mental capacity
This free course, Understanding mental capacity, covers the principles and criteria underpinning the assessment of mental capacity and decision making in the UK.
Motivation and factors affecting motivation
This free course explores the term 'motivation' and factors affecting motivation. This includes looking at the most influential theories of motivation that contribute to understanding the causes of motivation. The motivation of sports people and people working in sport and fitness environments are used to help understand the theories presented.
Work and mental health
Although being at work during periods of mental illness can be difficult for those with mental health problems, most people with these difficulties could take paid employment if it were not for numerous barriers in the workplace and the wider community (Centre for Mental Health, 2013). In this free course, Work and mental health, you will look ...
Exercise and mental health
Each year thousands of pounds are spent on medications to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression. These medications often have negative side effects. Exercise is an alternative treatment that is low cost and has few side effects. In this free course, Exercise and mental health, we will look at the links between exercise and improved ...
Panic attacks: what they are and what to do about them
Panic attacks: what they are and what to do about them is a free course that should be helpful to anyone who experiences panic or panic attacks, for their family and friends, and anyone more generally interested in mental health and mental health treatment. The course starts by exploring formal definitions of panic and panic attack. These ...
Trauma and psychology
Making sense of ourselves
This free course, Making sense of ourselves, introduces you to well-known psychological topics by asking and answering everyday questions, such as Why don’t we like one another? Why would I hang around with you? Do you see what I see? What’s the point of childhood? You’ll learn how psychologists can go about addressing these questions using ...
An introduction to death, dying and grief
Explore interesting and challenging ideas around death, dying and grief. This free course, An introduction to death, dying and grief, invites you to think more deeply about death and dying and encourages you to think about it in different ways. This course will introduce you to different perspectives on death; ethical issues related to dying and...
Emotions and emotional disorders
In this free course, Emotions and emotional disorders, you will learn about some of the disorders related to the feelings of stress, sadness and anxiety including how these disorders are diagnosed, their biological correlates, and evidence of their possible causes.
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