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15 unique online courses to open your mind

Try something new today with one of our unique courses, whether you’re interested in video game design, jazz piano, or the human mind.

Online learning taking place at home

Here at FutureLearn, many of our courses provide the perfect opportunity to upskill, develop professional credentials, and even switch careers. However, we have an extremely broad range of courses, so if you’re looking to try something different or take up a new hobby, we definitely have something for you.

Learning just for the sake of learning can be fun and rewarding, and you never know when you’re going to find something you feel truly passionate about. You could try taking a course outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself, or finally get stuck into a subject that you’ve always wanted to try.

Whatever you decide, we hope that this list of 15 unique online courses inspires you to learn something new.

1. Mysteries Of The Universe by National Tsing Hua University

Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered about what lies beyond our solar system? In this course by National Tsing Hua University, you’ll investigate the mysteries of the universe and expand your knowledge of two exciting areas: astronomy and cosmology.

Whether you’re interested in physics or not, this course will provide you with an overview of entities such as black holes and dark energy, allowing you to delve into the secrets of the cosmos.

2. Become a Successful Baker with BBC Good Food 

You may never have thought about doing an online baking course before, but BBC Good Food has made this possible with their fantastic ExpertTrack aimed at making you a master baker. From discovering baking techniques to learning about the science behind baking, this ExpertTrack will cover all bases and help you bake delicious food.

You won’t just be following a set of instructions or a recipe. Instead, you’ll learn how to read and amend recipes, pick tasty ingredients and gain confidence in the kitchen.

3. Introduction to VR Programming, Design, and Unity by VR Voom

Virtual Reality (VR) is an exciting technology that we’ll surely be seeing a lot more of as time goes on. If you’re interested in creating your own VR experience, this course is for you, whether you have programming experience or not.

On this course, you’ll gain an introduction to C#, learn programming and design skills, and use the Unity game engine before making your very own 2D game.

4. Sustainability in the New Zealand Wine Industry by NMIT and Te Pūkenga

Are you an avid wine drinker, perhaps with an interest in sustainability? This course by the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and  Te Pūkenga will allow you to discover the sustainable wine industry in New Zealand.

Over the course of 4 weeks, you’ll learn about sustainable wine production, sustainable environment management known as kaitiakitanga, and how Tohu, a sustainable wine label, are hoping to make a difference in the industry.

5. Zoroastrianism: History, Religion, and Belief by SOAS

It is likely you’ve never heard of the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, but there is no time like the present to open your mind. The religion is of ancient Persian origin, and in this course, you’ll learn about its history, including imperial culture, migration, and the establishment of diasporic communities.

In this 4-week course by SOAS University of London, you’ll refer to a variety of sources, including texts, paintings and artefacts, in order to paint a rich picture of Zoroastrian religion and history.

6. Learn to Play Jazz Piano by Goldsmiths University

If you’re comfortable with playing the piano but haven’t ventured into the world of jazz, this ExpertTrack is perfect for you. Over the course of 25 weeks, you’ll delve into jazz improvisation and master advanced jazz piano techniques.

Whether you’re a music buff or are just looking for some escapism from your daily life, this ExpertTrack will take you on an entertaining and explorative journey through jazz music.

7. What is a Mind? by the University of Capetown

The human mind is one of the most complex puzzles of our existence, and it has perplexed everyone, including philosophers, scientists and historians over the ages. If this sounds interesting to you, our course by the University of Capetown will explore the age-old question, what is a mind?

As you work your way through the course, you’ll study scientific and philosophical concepts of the human mind. For example, you’ll investigate how the brain influences human behaviour. Ultimately, you’ll think about the how, what and why of the human mind, and go on a journey of exploration.

8. The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books by Keio University

If you want to learn something truly niche, our course from Keio University will teach you about the history, production and design of washi papers inside rare Japanese books.

If you’re interested in Japanese culture and the art of creating books, this course will be a great opportunity to learn about the materials and techniques used to produce Japanese paper. For something completely different to what you’re used to, enrol today.

9. Exploring Mentorship and Community Change with the Compton Cowboys by Tommy Hilfiger

Although many people take online courses for fun, they can also be a great way to learn how to make a difference in your own life or the lives of others. This course made in collaboration with the Compton Cowboys is an excellent example of one such course.

The Compton Cowboys are on a mission to serve and uplift their community, and on this course, you can learn to do the same. You’ll explore the role of mentorship and develop self-belief in order to become a great mentor in your community. 

10. An Introduction to Chinese Sign Language and Linguistics by Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)

If you’re interested in inclusivity and accessibility surrounding language and linguistics, this 4-week course by Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) might spark your interest. In this course, you’ll delve into Chinese sign language (CSL), sign language linguistics, and Chinese deaf culture and education. 

11. Video Game Design and Development: Video Game Character Design by Abertay University

Are you an avid video gamer hoping to expand your horizons and venture into game design and development? This course will give you an introduction to video game character design, where you’ll explore anatomy, graphic design, narrative and gameplay.

Whether you want to create the next Zelda or Super Mario, you’ll discover what makes a great video game character and how to bring them to life. You don’t need programming or design skills to enjoy this course.

12. Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-78 by the University of Reading

For a different kind of history lesson, try our course on the history of punk from the University of Reading. You’ll explore the emergence of punk, the different youth subcultures surrounding it, and how it was used as a tool of self-expression.

You’ll also consider the political nature of punk and how it relates to gender, race, class, sexuality, and even protest. If you’re feeling creative, you’ll love making your own punk fanzine within the course. 

13. Gardening for Beginners: The Basics and Beyond by Gardeners’ World Magazine

You probably didn’t know you could take an online course on gardening, but here we are. With this ExpertTrack by Gardeners’ World, you can learn how to care for plants with simple gardening techniques, whether you’re a new or experienced gardener.

Gardening might seem like a daunting task for some, and online instructions can be hard to understand, but this ExpertTrack will give you the confidence to help your plants thrive. From understanding how plants grow to learning how to nurture them, you’ll want to spend more time in your garden after taking this course.

14. Te Reo Māori: Introduction to Pronunciation by Edumaxi

If you love learning new languages but haven’t found your passion yet, why not try your hand at Māori? You might be especially interested if you’re from New Zealand or want to visit the country any time soon, as many Māori words appear in the everyday vocabulary of New Zealanders.

In this course, you’ll learn about Māori pronunciation, vocabulary, and common greetings and phrases. You’ll also delve into the meaning of the words and language, as Māori language is deeply connected to Māori culture, people, land and history.

15. Visualizing Women’s Work: Using Art Media for Social Justice by the University of Michigan

There are so many ways to fight for social justice, and creating art media is one way you can join the fight. In this course, you’ll investigate how public art can be used to challenge historical gender bias and discuss gender equality.

You’ll critique art history and the erasure of women’s work throughout the past, explore the artistic process as a form of research, and learn how to develop your own media or literary projects that challenge gender bias.


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