10 fascinating, free online courses you can take from the University of Edinburgh, including “How to Read a Novel”

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Considered one of the top global colleges, the University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest and most popular universities in the UK. But for those who can’t swing a move to Scotland, the school – like many of the best colleges – offers many of its courses for free through e-learning platforms Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn.

The University of Edinburgh’s online class selection is particularly diverse, ranging in subjects from literature, music, philosophy, marketing, coding, and even animal behavior. All the courses below are free to take, while some offer optional paid certificates or are part of longer paid programs.

10 free University of Edinburgh courses you can take online:

Introduction to Philosophy

Philosopher Statue

Length: 5 weeks (19 hours total)

Featuring a different philosopher each week, this course focuses on a range of areas in philosophy to provide students with a thorough understanding of what philosophy is and what it aims to explore.

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Fundamentals of Music Theory

Sheet music book

Length: 6 weeks (7 hours total)

This crash course in Western music theory walks students through pitches, scales, intervals, rhythm, form, meter, harmony, and more.

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How to Read a Novel

Reading a book sitting by a window

Length: 4 weeks (2 hours per week)

Expand your appreciation of literature by understanding the key elements of a great novel: plot, characterization, dialogue, and setting — using examples from the novels in the 2020 James Tait Black fiction shortlist.

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Introduction to Marketing

Typing at a laptop taking online class

Length: 6 weeks (2-3 hours per week)

The first of two courses in the Digital Marketing Fundamentals professional certificate program ($313.20), this intro class goes over the importance of marketing before diving into specific strategies.

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Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming

Coding on a laptop

Length: 5 weeks (12 hours total)

For those who are true beginners to coding, this intro course shows students how to code in Scratch, a comprehensive visual programming language, along with the basic principles of programming.

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How to Create an Online Course

Remote learning

Length: 2 weeks (3 hours per week)

As e-learning continues to grow, this quick course shows you how to create your own online course by understanding your learners, creating active learning opportunities, and finding ways to keep content interesting for your students.

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Climate Solutions


Length: 5 weeks (1-2 hours per week)

For anyone interested in finding solutions to our climate crisis, this course covers the science behind climate change, what governments and big businesses can do about it, as well as the individual actions we all can take to make a difference.

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Statistics: Unlocking the World of Data

Math equations

Length: 8 weeks (4-6 hours per week)

Data is used across so many fields, and if you’re curious about a career that involves statistics, this introductory course covers the fundamentals of statistics before going over simple stats you can analyze for practice.

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Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Dogs napping together

Length: 7 weeks (10 hours total)

For animal lovers everywhere, this course covers the study of animal behavior and emotions, tying it into the bigger picture of animal welfare and public policy.

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Sit Less, Get Active

People running outside

Length: 3 weeks (12 hours total)

Living up to its name, this course shows you tangible, real ways to increase your physical activity throughout the day in manageable, easy steps (no pun intended).

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