Online course

Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy

Celebrate Burns Night online, and dig deeper into the life and works of Robert Burns, with this free University of Glasgow course.

Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy

Why join the course?

If you’ve ever welcomed in the New Year with a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” or enjoyed a whisky and haggis on 25 January, you’re likely to be one of the thousands, nay millions, of fans of Robert Burns around the world.

Now you can celebrate the poems, songs, and legacy of the great Scottish poet in a new way - with this free online course from the University of Glasgow, which begins on Burns Night 2016.

Learn how an 18th-century Scottish poet became a global icon

Over three weeks, we’ll introduce you to the life and works of Robert (“Rabbie” or “Robbie”) Burns, exploring three core questions:

  • Who was Robert Burns?
  • What made Robert Burns a poetic genius?
  • And what made Robert Burns a global icon?

In the process, you’ll examine archive material, original publications and manuscripts by Burns himself, recordings of Burns songs and examples of objects used to commemorate the poet. You’ll also look at and learn to interpret a selection of Robert Burns’s works in the context of Scottish history and culture. Poems and songs covered in the course include:

  • Auld Lang Syne
  • To a Mouse
  • To a Haggis
  • Ae Fond Kiss
  • A Red Red Rose
  • Scots Wha Hae
  • A Man’s a Man for a’ That
  • The Vision

Setting things in a wider context, you’ll also develop your understanding of Robert Burns’s reputation - from the rise of Burns Clubs and Burns Suppers following his death, to the continuing celebration of the poet today through Burns Night, Hogmanay (New Year) and beyond.

Learn with Scotland’s leading experts on Robert Burns

You’ll learn with experts from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow, which leads the world in the academic study of the poet, his life and works, the history and culture of the period in which he lived, and his ongoing legacy.

So join us on 25 January 2016, for a Burns Night with a difference.

If you want to find out a bit more about Robert Burns now, have a look at this post on the FutureLearn blog from Gerard Carruthers about the conspiracy theories that surround the famous poet.

Download video: standard or HD

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
    This course started 21 January 2019

Who is the course for?

No previous experience or qualifications are required for this course - just an interest in Robert Burns, Scottish history and culture, or poetry and song in general.

What do people say about this course?

Thank you for these three weeks and all these fascinating insights in the literary work and life of Robert Burns! The material provided by the educators and the comments by the fellow students were really helpful!

Course Learner

Thank you very much for your hard work, and for introducing many of us to this amazing figure as Robert Burns was. I really loved it and learned a lot about not only his work but his life, and a little more about Scottish culture. I'm looking forward to learning more and to follow this amazing bard, Robert Burns.

Course Learner

Who will you learn with?

Gerard Carruthers

Professor Gerard Carruthers FRSE is Francis Hutcheson Chair of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow.

Catriona Macdonald

I'm Reader in Late Modern Scottish History at the University of Glasgow. I'm also leading a research project on political poetry in the 19th and 20th centuries... hence the interest in Burns.

Pauline Mackay

Lecturer in Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow's Centre for Robert Burns Studies

Ronnie Young

I am a Lecturer in Scottish Literature and educator on/co-ordinator of the 'Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy' course with Futurelearn.

Who developed the course?

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats, to celebrate taking part.

$54.00