Free online courses

We run free online courses in partnership with FutureLearn. These are sometimes referred to as "MOOCs" - or Massive Open Online Courses.  You can register online to join any of the courses listed below - you just need access to a computer, tablet or mobile phone to learn with us.

‌‌Our courses re-run at regular intervals, and we are developing new courses, so if you don't find what you want, please keep an eye on this page or go to the University website to find more free courses

‌Wordsworth: Poetry, people and place

Starts 4 September 2017 - 4 weeks

We will explore the great poetry of William Wordsworth with particular emphasis on his writing process and the importance for him of the inspirational landscape of the Lake District. This free online course will feature Dove Cottage, Grasmere where Wordsworth lived from 1799 to 1808 and where he produced much of his greatest work, including his autobiographical masterpiece, The Prelude.

We will draw on the magnificent, designated collection of the Wordsworth Trust, which includes 90% of the poet’s manuscripts, to enable participants to study how poems are created and how they develop through the process of revision. Through lectures, readings and focusing on Grasmere and the wider Lake District area, we will explore why this specific location was so important for Wordsworth and evaluate the part that his poetry has played is the shaping and preservation of the National Park. Contributors to this course include Jeff Cowton, Curator of the Wordsworth Trust, and Professor Sally Bushell, one of the world’s leading scholars of Wordsworth’s writing process.

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Corpus Linguistics: Method, Analysis, Interpretation

Starts 25 September 2017 - 8 weeks

Offers practical introduction to the methodology of corpus linguistics for researchers in social sciences and humanities.

The course aims to:

  • Demonstrate that corpus approaches to social science can offer valuable insight into social reality by investigating the use and manipulation of language in society
  • Equip social scientists with skills necessary for collecting and analysing large digital collections of text (corpora).
  • Provide educational support for those who want to use the corpus method.
  • Demonstrate the use of corpus linguistics in the humanities, especially History.
  • Give a sense of the incredibly wide uses that corpora have been put to.
  • Allow those with an interest in language, who have not heard of the corpus approach before, a new way of looking at language.

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Radical Spirituality: the early history of the Quakers

Start 30 April 2017 – 3 weeks

Learn about the beginnings of this radical religious group as it emerged in the north of England in the summer of 1652. Visit the north west of England to see where it all started and find out more about the key events, characters and ideas.

If you think of the Quakers it might bring to mind porridge oats, or pacifism, or perhaps prison reform, but through this online course, we will be finding out about what lies at the heart of Quaker beginnings, who its main characters were, and how in a few weeks during the summer of 1652 the Quaker movement was formed in the north of England.

Almost from nothing, the Quakers were to become the most successful sect of the 1650s and 1% of the population of England was to become a Quaker. It was a radical spirituality which appealed to thousands of people, hungry for new ways of thinking.

In this three week course, we will see how the events of 1652 unfolded and visit the key sites of Pendle Hill, Firbank Fell, and Swarthmoor Hall in the north-west of England.

Each of these places marks a critical piece of the dramatic story of May and June 1652.

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Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching

Gain practical tools and theoretical insights to help dyslexic students learn second languages, with this free online course.

4 weeks

Dyslexia affects 10-15% of the population. Dyslexic students are often either exempted from the study of additional languages or they underperform in foreign language classes.

This free online course is designed for current and trainee teachers of additional languages. It offers you practical tools, as well as theoretical insights, to best accommodate and meet the needs of students with dyslexia in foreign or second language classes.

Start date 16April 2018 | Register an interest in this course