• University of Leeds

Interdisciplinary Learning: Working Across Disciplines

Thinking of doing an interdisciplinary degree? Learn how to study and work in an interdisciplinary environment.

2,594 enrolled on this course

Interdisciplinary Learning: Working Across Disciplines

Harness the benefits of interdisciplinary study and work

Real life problems are too complex to be solved by a single field of study. That’s why learning to work across different disciplines is a vital skill in our modern society.

On this course, you’ll discover what interdisciplinary learning is and learn how different disciplines develop their own methodologies and language.

You’ll explore how disciplines create and value different types of knowledge, and discover strategies for working in an interdisciplinary environment.

You’ll also learn how to make the most of interdisciplinary work and collaborate effectively in your own areas of practice.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Scott McLaughlin: Many real-life problems are too complex and interlocked to be solved by a single discipline. In a world where interdisciplinary research is of growing importance, dividing knowledge by disciplines creates barriers. Interdisciplinary degrees prepare students for jobs in the ever-evolving industry landscape. Interdisciplinarity also benefits students, since research councils expect new research to offer a broader view and sharper insights that come from the intersection between disciplines that allows new forms of knowledge to emerge. This online course looks at different subjects to understand how disciplines create unique methodologies and develop their own terminologies. The course also looks at real-life examples that explore how different disciplines can work together.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds You will learn practical strategies and techniques that will prepare you for your own interdisciplinary degree or research. I’m Dr. Scott McLaughlin, and I’m passionate about interdisciplinarity, and different ways that disciplinary boundaries affect collaborative research. Join this course today and discover practical ways that will help you with your interdisciplinary work or studies.


  • Week 1

    Why can interdisciplinary learning and working be challenging?

    • Welcome

      This week, you will explore different disciplines, consider how approaches, language and methods vary across disciplines, and investigate some of the challenges inherent in interdisciplinary study and work.

    • Why do you have to think about disciplines?

      Explore how different people approach and think about things differently due to the disciplines in which they study and work.

    • What is interdisciplinary learning and working?

      Explore what it means to learn and work between, or across, disciplines.

    • How can language be a challenge?

      Explore how language and terminology often represent and mask larger differences between approaches and understanding in different disciplines.

    • How can methodology be a challenge?

      Explore how different disciplines examine problems, build knowledge and establish facts in very different ways.

    • Summary

      To close this week, reflect on the topics covered and discover what you will learn next week.

  • Week 2

    How can you get the most from interdisciplinary learning and working?

    • About the week

      In Week 2, you will explore some of the deeper critical reflection needed in interdisciplinary work, and consider how to maximise the success of your interdisciplinary study and work.

    • How is knowledge developed in different disciplines?

      Explore how everyday methods, actions and approaches are interconnected with how disciplines create knowledge. This also in turn affects what knowledge is valued by that discipline.

    • What type of result do you want to achieve in your interdisciplinary learning?

      Explore a key aspect of knowledge production – the desired end result. This defines what knowledge/information is valued.

    • How will you know if you are making progress in an interdisciplinary project?

      Explore how disciplines use different types of evidence to assess if they are making progress with their learning and actions, and if they have succeeded.

    • How will you get the most out of your interdisciplinary work?

      In this final activity, explore how different techniques and approaches can support your interdisciplinary projects.

    • Summary

      Reflect on the topics of the course and test your understanding.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Explore how different disciplines have standardised focuses and methods for researching and solving problems.
  • Compare the ways that different disciplines create and discover knowledge, and the type of knowledge they create.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness and applicability of discipline-specific epistemologies to different needs and projects.
  • Reflect on how your understanding of your own discipline changes when you compare it to the principles and methods of other disciplines.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for those preparing for a joint honours degree or an interdisciplinary degree at undergraduate or masters level.

It will also be useful for academic researchers undertaking research in new areas or professionals working on projects with people from different disciplines.

This course is part of the skills courses portfolio at the University of Leeds that is designed to improve students’ academic study skills.

Who will you learn with?

Who developed the course?

University of Leeds

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • 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
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • 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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