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What Does It Mean to Be Human? An Introduction to the Humanities

Answer some of the big questions about being human, and get an introduction to the skills needed in the humanities.

8,307 enrolled on this course

What Does It Mean to Be Human? An Introduction to the Humanities
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
This course is part of the program BA Futures, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Bachelor of Arts. Find out more.

Explore what it means to be human and how we make sense of the world

What does it mean to be human? How do we acquire knowledge? How do we make sense of the world around us?

Through this course you’ll develop the skills and knowledge to start answering these big questions. You will consider the complexity of today’s world and engage in debates on the big ideas underpinning humanities subjects.

You will also develop the foundational skills required in the study of the humanities, including evidence-based problem solving, and intercultural awareness.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds What does it mean to be human? And lift-off of discovery, hoisting harmony to the heavens. We think the humanities are the key to understanding this question. When we talk about the humanities, we’re talking about understanding the nature of humanity itself and how ideas of humanness have changed, persisted and evolved. We’re also talking about a group of disciplines where people gather to discuss a large range of subjects, including history and literature. Disciplines that come under the humanities banner range from cultural studies, history and literary studies to sociology and anthropology alongside archives and libraries. Innovative digital technologies also help us to decipher and democratise data. Humanities study is also experienced in the everyday and encourages us to examine the human condition today.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 seconds The humanities are more relevant than ever. They help us grapple with complex moral issues to understand unfamiliar cultures in an increasingly interconnected world and to provide informed ways of dealing with contemporary global issues at every level. Join us at the University of Newcastle as we search to understand the human experience from the most human of all fields of study the humanities.

What topics will you cover?

  • Critical and ethical thinking
  • Epistemologies
  • How knowledge is shared through writing

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate introductory knowledge of the humanities disciplines, including developing understandings of how humans communicate and acquire knowledge.
  • Report local and global problems and ideas, and recognise how different humanities disciplines can interact to produce new understandings or findings.
  • Compare foundational scholarly research in the humanities using digital platforms, and find appropriate resources to answer the problem in its context.
  • Apply core academic reading and writing skills relevant to the humanities.

Who is the course for?

Recommended for learners age 15+

This course is for anyone interested in the humanities, or answering questions about being human. You don’t need any previous experience.

Who will you learn with?

I’m a Lecturer at UON and the author of Doubtful Readers (OUP, 2020). I’m especially interested in the ways the material forms literary texts take (print, manuscript, digital) shape their meanings.

My teaching background is in history: I am interested in global histories, histories of the family, histories of health and medicine, and in particular, the history of mental health and ‘madness’.

Who developed the course?

The University of Newcastle Australia

The University of Newcastle is a world-class university distinguished by a commitment to equity and excellence. Ranked in Australia’s Top 10 universities, and 197th in the world (QS rankings, 2021).

  • Established1965
  • LocationNewcastle, Australia
  • World rankingTop 200Source: QS World University Rankings 2021

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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Advance your career with a degree

Since 2017 you have been able to take a degree on FutureLearn. This free course is a bit like a starter course for a degree — it should give you a flavour of the degree subject but can also be your first step towards a degree qualification.

If you enjoy this course you can apply to join the program it’s part of to start working towards a degree on FutureLearn.

Don’t worry, you can still take the course without doing a full degree!

Do the free course
Join and complete the program
Get academic credit for an online degree from The University of Newcastle Australia
This course is part of the program BA Futures, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Bachelor of Arts.

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