Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)


What are MOOCs?

MOOCs, or massive online open courses, are a new way of learning online that can offer you the flexibility of distance learning and let you tap into the large amount of information available in the online, digital world.


MOOCs can be studied by thousands of people at the same time, from anywhere in the world. They usually have no entry criteria, don’t normally charge fees and you can read course materials, watch videos and take tests anywhere that suits you – all you need is access to the internet.


What can I study?

As university level courses, MOOCs can offer you a taste of a subject without having to complete a full program of study like a degree. Subject categories are very broad and include anything from IT and web developer courses to learning about earth and energy science or statistics and data analysis. You’ll also find lots of other courses in other subject areas like:


  • creative arts and media
  • politics and the modern world
  • languages and culture
  • food and nutrition
  • health and society.


There are also MOOCs that can help you develop your career like courses in dental photography or management techniques. You can even prepare for further university level study by completing a course on preparing for university or improving your academic writing skills.  MOOCs can support your job search skills too. Look out for courses on how to succeed at writing job applications or interviews and how to improve your career and employability skills.


MOOCs can also be a great way to just find out a bit more about something you’re interested in like writing fiction, managing your investments or learning a language. You’ll find that people from all over the world could be interested in the same things as you. You’ll be able to post messages, take part in online discussions, answer questions and share the learning process together.


Examples of MOOCs


Preparing for Uni (University of East Anglia)

This course will help you develop the key skills you need for a smooth transition to University.


Begin Programming: build your first mobile game (University of Reading)

Learn basic Java programming by developing a simple mobile game that you can run on   your computer, Android phone, or tablet.


Start Writing Fiction (The Open University)

This hands-on course helps you get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central skill of creating characters

The Mind is Flat: the shocking shallowness of human psychology (University of Warwick)

Make better personal and professional decisions and consider the psychological dimension to  key ethical and political choices.

A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study (University of Reading)

Learn how to use English for study at university or college, and develop your writing skills, vocabulary and grammar.


Shakespeare and his World (University of Warwick)

Together with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Professor Jonathan Bate explores Shakespeare, his works and the world he lived in.


Basic Science: understanding experiments (The Open University)

This hands-on course introduces you to science-based skills through simple and exciting physics, chemistry and biology experiments.


Psychology and Mental Health: beyond nature and nurture (University of Liverpool)

How a psychological understanding of our emotions and behaviour can give us new ways to improve mental health and well-being.


The Science of Medicines (Monash University)

Learn the science behind how and why medicines work, and what can improve the patient treatment experience.


Inside Cancer: how genes influence cancer development (University of Bath)

An ideal introduction if you’re interested in understanding how genetics influences the development and spread of cancer.