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Top 25 online courses in South Africa – June 2020

Check out our list of the top 25 online courses in South Africa. We look at what’s popular among our learners in the rainbow nation.

South Africa

E-learning is becoming increasingly popular to the people of South Africa. The country is home to the largest open distance e-learning university, and it’s hoped that digital learning can address some of the inequalities in education. Taking an online course can also help with personal and professional development. As such, we’ve outlined the 25 most popular online courses in South Africa among FutureLearn learners.


 1. COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus

The headlines across the world are still dominated by the current COVID-19 crisis. South Africa has over 50,000 confirmed cases, making it very much a pressing matter still. Our course on tackling the novel coronavirus examines how the virus is impacting people, how it spreads, and what needs to be done to address it. It’s been one of our most popular courses over recent months and has a rating of 4.8 out of 5. 

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2. Occupational Health in Developing Countries

Occupational health services are those that focus on keeping teams and people safe and well at work. It focuses on both the physical and mental aspects of health and can benefit both employees and businesses. However, it’s often neglected in developing countries. This course examines some of the key elements of occupational health, as well as some of the methods and measurements that can be applied in the workplace. 

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3. How To Teach Online: Providing Continuity for Students

In the wake of the current pandemic, many schools and universities in South Africa have been closed. As such, both students and teachers have had to adapt to new ways of learning and teaching. Even the most experienced teachers are facing new challenges with this way of working. Our course is focused on giving teachers the strategies and skills to develop their lessons for the online classroom. 

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4. Start Writing Fiction

South Africa began its coronavirus lockdown on March 27 and is only just starting to ease measures. With more free time on your hands than usual, you may have considered writing that story you always wanted to. Our course Start Writing Fiction is the perfect place to get you on your way. You’ll learn how to create characters, draw on sources, and read as a writer. 

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5. Teaching English Online

Teaching English brings an array of work opportunities. It’s a skill that’s always in demand, and online teachers are especially sought-after at the moment. Our course from Cambridge Assessment English is designed to help teachers transfer their skills to an online context. You’ll study the skills and knowledge required to adapt your teaching methods and learn about the tools you can use to help you. 

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6. Education for All: Disability, Diversity and Inclusion

Everyone should have equal access to education. However, this isn’t true for millions of children around the world. Learning should be an inclusive and universal right, and there are ways to make it more accessible. This course uncovers some practical ways to do exactly that. You’ll learn the skills and techniques to make your classroom a more inclusive place for everyone. 

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7. Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

If you’ve ever wanted to go back in time and visit ancient Rome, we’ve got the next best thing. This course gives learners the chance to take a guided tour of the city. Dr Matthew Nicholls guides you through a 3D digital model, exploring the history, architecture and culture of the eternal city. 

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8. What is a Mind?

The mind is a puzzle that has long been debated by scientists, philosophers and scientists. In this age of technological advancement, we have more of an understanding than ever before. However, there are still questions to be asked and problems to be solved. In this course, Professor Mark Solms from the University of Cape Town introduces a range of ideas and theories about the mind. 

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9. What is Leadership?

The concept of leadership is a complex one. However, those who can effectively lead are in high demand. This course explores some of the fundamentals of leadership, allowing you to examine and develop your own leadership style. The course, designed by Deakin University, has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 from over 150 learners. 

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10. COVID-19: Diagnostics and Testing

Two of our most essential tools in the fight against coronavirus are diagnostics and testing. Many countries have been doing all they can to increase their testing infrastructure and capacity. Others have taken different approaches to tracking and tracing the spread of the virus. This course from the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics looks at the current recommendations for COVID-19 diagnosis and testing. 

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11. Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Genealogy is a fascinating and often rewarding field of study. If you’ve always wanted to research your family history, this course presents the ideal introduction to the subject. It looks at ways to find and analyse sources, and how DNA testing can help you on your search. You’ll also learn about some of the challenges that face genealogical research, as well as how to overcome them. 

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12. Managing Mental Health and Stress

Our mental health is essential to our overall wellbeing. During these difficult times, it’s more important than ever to make sure you take care of your own. Stress can often cause mental health difficulties, so it’s essential you’re able to recognise and manage that stress. This cause looks at how you can stay on top of your mental health, as well as give you strategies to combat workplace stress. 

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13. COVID-19: Effective Nursing in Times of Crisis

As healthcare workers are fighting on the front lines against the coronavirus, the systems they work in are going through upheavals. At such a time, effective nursing becomes more important than ever. This course looks at some of the issues faced by nurses working in crisis zones, and how we can apply these learnings to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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14. Teaching for Success: Lessons and Teaching

For teachers of any subject, continuing professional development is crucial. It helps you develop your skills and knowledge, ensuring you fulfil your potential and help your students fulfil theirs. This course focuses on English language teaching and looks at how to plan and manage lessons, as well as how to take responsibility for your own CPD. 

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15. An Introduction to Screenwriting

Writing a screenplay can be a rewarding but challenging project. They generally follow particular formats but are only limited by your imagination and creativity. This course explores some of the basic concepts and elements that go into a professional screenplay. It will also give you the opportunity to write your own first draft. 

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16. English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development

English is the fourth most commonly spoken first language in South Africa. However, it’s also widely used and understood across the country, especially by the government and in the media. As such, it’s worth knowing how young children learn the language, as well as how you can help them on their learning journey. This course is created by the British Council to help parents and practitioners support children as they learn English as a second language. 

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17. Extinctions: Past and Present

There have been five mass extinction events in Earth’s history, and each of these has shaped the biodiversity of the planet. Sadly, human activity is currently threatening a sixth extinction. This course examines the previous events and how they impacted life on the planet. It also explores some of the current threats to biodiversity, and what we can do to prevent another mass extinction.  

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18. Understanding IELTS: Writing

The IELTS is a world-renowned exam that tests English language ability in four key areas. The writing section consists of two sections and takes 60 minutes to complete. This course is focused on helping you develop strategies to do your best in the exam. It looks at the types of essays you’ll need to write and gives you the tools and knowledge to reach your full potential. 

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19. Understanding Autism

Autism is a developmental disability that impacts an individual’s communication and understanding of the world. It’s what’s known as a spectrum condition, meaning that different people are affected in different ways. However, there are some difficulties that everyone with autism share. This course, certified by the CPD Certification Service, explores some of the conditions and sensitivities that people on the autism spectrum often encounter. 

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20. Bookkeeping for Personal and Business Accounting

Bookkeeping is a skill that’s relevant and useful to both your personal and professional life. The skills to manage your finances can be applied in the workplace as well as at home. This course helps you understand the maths you’ll need to balance the books. It also looks at concepts such as profit and loss and revenue and debt.  

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21. Collaborative Working in a Remote Team

Since the start of the pandemic, people around the world have been working from home. In South Africa, it’s expected that a large number of workers will continue working remotely after lockdown is lifted. As such, it’s essential for people to understand how to work collaboratively and within a team, even when you’re not face-to-face with people. Our course on the subject, designed by the University of Leeds, explores the challenges and opportunities of remote working. It also helps you find ways to work collaboratively and successfully. 

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22. Introduction to Forensic Science

Forensic science is a field that fascinates many people. This six-week course explores some of the most interesting aspects of the subject, looking at how crime scene evidence is examined. It follows a theoretical murder case and deals with a variety of different evidence types. No prior knowledge is needed, as you’ll learn many of the fundamentals as your progress through the course. 

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23. Plagues, Pestilence and Pandemics: Are You Ready?

As we live through a global pandemic, the study of infectious diseases seems highly relevant. With this course, you’ll explore how infections are spread and how they can affect the body. It also looks at topics such as bacterial resistance, disease containment, and outbreak responses. The course was created by Griffith University and currently has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. 

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24. Understanding IELTS: Speaking

The speaking section of the IELTS exam requires listening, comprehension, and speaking skills. For those English language learners taking the test, they’ll have to have a conversation with the examiner, which usually takes around 14 minutes to complete. The Understanding IETLS: Speaking course helps prepare you for the test. It outlines the four criteria you’ll be assessed on and provides tips and techniques to help you succeed. 

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25. Understanding IELTS

This program consists of four courses, one for each section of the IELTS exam – reading, writing, speaking and listening. You’ll cover all of the essentials on how each area is structured, as well as what you need to demonstrate during the exam. It’s designed by the British Council and takes around 12 weeks to complete all four courses. 

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