Wider Learning in Geography

Which free online courses are worth studying?

We’ve pulled together a collection of online courses every geographer should study. Got a recommendation? Contact us using the form below.

The Open University

The Open University offers a range of free, online courses to support subject knowledge development. We’ve listed some of our favourites below. Check out all the free courses linked to Nature and Environment on Open Line.

Introducing the environment: Ecology and ecosystems

What is ecology and why is it important to our understanding of the world around us? This free Open University course, Introducing the environment: Ecology and ecosystems, looks at how we can study ecosystems to explore the effect that humans are having on the environment. Find out more.

5 hours study

OU Level 1: Introductory

Watching the Weather

This free Open University 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 everyone’s daily activities. Find out more.

10 hours study

OU Level 1: Introductory

Climate Change

Climate change is a key issue in today’s social and political agenda. This free Open University course explores the basic science that underpins climate change and global warming. Find out more.

18 hours study

OU Level 2: Intermediary

Energy in Buildings

Themes covered in this free Open University 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, decreasing CO2 emissions of different fuels and the use of efficient appliances. Find out more.

10 hours study

OU Level 3: Advanced

An Introduction to Energy Resources

Themes covered in this free Open University 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, decreasing CO2 emissions of different fuels and the use of efficient appliances. Find out more.

8 hours study

OU Level 2: Intermediate

Future Energy Demands 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. Find out more.

13 hours study

OU Level 2: Intermediate

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. Find out more.

7 hours study

OU Level 2: Intermediate

Water Use and the Water Cycle

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. Water use and the water cycle is a free course designed to give an introduction to the subject. Find out more.

10 hours study

OU Level 2: Intermediate

Why sustainability matters

Access to safe, clean and sustainable energy supplies is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity during the twenty-first century. This free course, Why sustainable energy matters, will survey the world’s present energy systems and their sustainability problems, together with some of the possible solutions to those problems and how these might emerge in practice. Find out more.

9 hours study

OU Level 1: Introductory

Managing Coastal Environments

Coastal environments are by their nature ever-changing. This free course, Managing coastal environments, looks at the example of the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, England, describing how the current state of the estuary came to be. It examines the contests and conflicts that centre on the estuary in terms of managing the environment for human needs and the needs of the other species who make their habitat there. Find out more.

3 hours study

OU Level 2: Intermediate

Can renewable energy resources power the world?

The Open University asks the question ‘Can renewable energy sources power the world?’ as a response to the growing awareness that increased use of renewable energy technologies is making a major contribution to global efforts to limit anthropogenic climate change.

The course begins by examining the environmental concerns that have caused a rise in interest in renewable energy, introducing the main sources and technologies, and describing global efforts to increase the share of renewables.

The course then looks at each of the principal renewable energy technologies and the contributions they might make to global energy demand.

Finally, several future energy scenarios are analysed to show how combinations of renewable energy sources and technologies could provide a major share of global energy needs.

Find out more.

24 hours study

OU Level 1: Introductory




United Nations Climate Change Teacher Academy

The United Nations Climate Change Teacher Academy (UNCCTA) is a partnership formed with the UN CC:Learn (UNITAR) Team to deliver their vision and mission to ensure that there is a Climate Change Teacher, accredited by the One UN Climate Change Learn Partnership in Every School throughout the world. Find out more.




Future Learn

Future Learn offers a range of free online courses from universities around the UK. There are plenty of online courses relevant to geographers. Take a look at Nature and Environment courses.

Internet Geography Plus

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