• University of Glasgow

Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy

Dig deeper into the life and works of Robert Burns, with this free University of Glasgow course.

28,045 enrolled on this course

Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

If you’ve ever welcomed in the New Year with a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” or enjoyed a whisky and haggis on Burns Night, 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 in January, the month in which we commemorate the poet’s life.

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 23 January 2017 for a new look at a world-famous poet.

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 poet.

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

This course explored:

  • The cultural reputation of Robert Burns as patriot, lover, and man of the people
  • Robert Burns as poet and songwriter
  • Major works such as ‘Scots Wha Hae’, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’, ‘A Man’s a Man’, ‘The Vision’, and ‘Auld Lang Syne’
  • The commemoration of Burns in material culture
  • The international celebrity and legacy of Burns

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 the poems, songs and legacy of Robert Burns
  • Discuss the reputation of Burns as a national and international poet
  • Collaborate with other learners in researching and mapping examples of Burns's global reach
  • Develop an understanding of Burns's place in Scottish literary tradition
  • Engage with diverse media related to the study of Burns, including poems, song recordings, videos, images, maps, and manuscripts

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!"

"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."

Who will you learn with?

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

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.

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

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?

The University of Glasgow

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.

  • Established

    1451
  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

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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