20 MOOCs to make studying great again

Studying is hard

After a long and tedious school day, all any tired student wants to do is sink down into their beds and be dead to the world.

Enough studying.


They say there are two kinds of people, though. Maybe you’re the second kind of person—the kind bursting with passion to learn new things and change the world—no time to waste, fam. Lots of things to do, lots of sights to see.

 lifelong learning

If this is you, you have my complete respect.

Why do a MOOC?

Regardless of which group you’re in, you’ll enjoy MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Online courses open to pretty much anyone with access to the Web, these courses allow for unlimited participation and comprise a huge variety of topics.

Interested in philosophy? There’s a course for that. German Opera? There’s a course for that, too. Choose something that catches your attention and have fun exploring areas of interest that you might never discover, otherwise!

The best part?

A great majority of these free online courses are offered by recognized universities across the globe, so you’re learning from some of the best out there! Most are also self-paced, so you can take a break to space out …

Or take more MOOCs, like this fascinating one that taught survival and science themes via The Walking Dead. Some can even be done on the train/bus home on your phone. (Coursera App./edX App)

This closed in 2013, but there’s a whole load of cool MOOCs that you can explore!
This closed in 2013, but there’s a whole load of cool MOOCs that you can explore!

If you’re raring to go, we’ve trawled the net for a starter list of MOOCs to tickle your palate:

The Curious

The Pragmatic

The Curious

Offered by: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Description: If you’re a huge fan of The Avengers and other superheroes, this is the MOOC for you. Taught by experts from the Smithsonian Museum and big industry names like Stan Lee (Marvel) and Michael Uslan (executive producer: The Dark Knight series), learn about the origins and history of superheroes as well as how they became so beloved to America, and then the world.

If you choose to add on USD 50 for a verified certificate, you’ll receive digital artwork from a current comic book artist. If you’re a huge comics fan, this is a deal you may find hard to resist!

Run dates: Self-paced, 6 weeks (1-2 hours per week)

Offered by: The University of Adelaide (Australia)

Description: Love your cabernet sauvignons and merlots? While this MOOC won’t turn you into a wine aficionado/sommelier overnight, it will help you appreciate that glass of grappa better by equipping you with the formal vocabulary to describe its sensory attributes. It will also give insights into the industry practices used in the grapevines and share winemaking techniques.

Run dates: Self-paced, 6 weeks (2-3 hours per week)

Offered by: The University of Newcastle (Australia)

Description: This isn’t only for the avid drawers! Covering the basics of Natural History Illustration, the course will also impart scientific observational skills as you learn how to draw and replicate subjects from nature, science and culture. At the very least, you will complete this with a renewed appreciation of the world around us.

Run dates: Starts Feb 10, 2021 for 6 weeks (3-6 hours per week)

Offered by: Harvard University

Description: While Singapore doesn’t face drastic weather phenomenons, learning how to predict the weather will always come in handy. This course teaches you how to estimate local wind speed and direction as well as identify cloud types and features. It also teaches you how to avoid getting struck by lightning.

Run dates: Self-paced, 6 weeks long (3-5 hours per week)

  • The Science of Beer

Offered by: Wageningen University & Research

Description: Take your appreciation of beer one step further by learning how it’s made! The Science of Beer is a course developed by students of Wageningen University & Research, and it’ll teach you about the beer production process. It’ll even share historical events involving the beloved beverage, and how beer is marketed. Grab a pint (only if you’re of legal age, please) and buckle in for the ride!

Run dates: Self-paced, 6 weeks (2-4 hours per week)

Offered by: Yonsei University

Description: Wanted to pick up a third language but had no time? Or unable to get into the language modules? Try a MOOC! This particular one will teach you how to read the Korean alphabet (Hangul), along with basic expressions in Korean. Intermediate/advanced level MOOCs are also available.

Run dates: Self-paced, 5 weeks (3-4 hours per week)

Offered by: The University of Queensland (Australia)

Description: See how history informs the present in this MOOC, which uses anthropology (the study of human beings through time and space) to provide you new perspectives on current world issues today. Learn a little about other cultures as you listen to interviews with various anthropologists and how throughout all of them, they contain differences yet harbour a sameness within.

Run dates: Self-paced, 9 weeks (2-4 hours per week)

Offered by: Berklee College of Music

Description: Take the singing in the shower and head-bopping to show-stopping tunes one step further! Learn how to use music to promote your well-being, reduce stress and improve your health.

Run dates: Self-paced, 4 weeks (3-5 hours per week)

Offered by: Erasmus University Rotterdam

Description: Do you know what serious games are? If you, like me, didn’t know that this was a category, this might be of interest to you. Learn about serious games and how they are employed in various situations beyond pure entertainment, their impact, and where the future of such games lie. After this module, you’ll see games in a whole new light.

Run dates: Starts Dec 21 (1-2 hours per week)

Offered by: Brown University

Description: Taking interdisciplinary modules in school can sometimes feel like an obligation, with some of us questioning just why such a practise is necessary. This module on medical humanities is an example of how “different” disciplines can intersect and how they complement/build upon each other.

Run dates: Archived but the course remains open for enrolment, 3 weeks (2-3 hours per week)

Offered by:  University of California, Berkeley

Description: Uni can run us ragged with its demanding schedules. If that’s happening to you and things are getting a little overwhelming (or you’re starting to find the cycle of eat/sleep/study losing its meaning), this MOOC might help. It teaches the science of positive psychology through practical strategies such as mindfulness to help you foster your social and emotional well-being.

Run dates: 11 weeks (4-5 hours per week)

The Pragmatic 

Offered by: University of California, Irvine

Description: This module will help you navigate the difficult situations you encounter, whether it be uncooperative group members or disagreeable roommates, by teaching you the different types of conflict and how to react to them positively. The skills you gain will not only be applicable in the workplace post-graduation, but also in daily life. Once done with the module, you can proceed to take the remaining three courses that make up UC Irvine’s Conflict Management Specialization.

Run dates: Self-paced, 5 hours long

Offered by: University of Leicester

Description: If you’re a final-year student who’s been debating a PhD but have been unsure how to go about it, whether in a local university or otherwise, this will be a good course for you! The course will give you insights into how to write your proposal, research methods, and ultimately whether pursuing a PhD actually is for you (expectations vs. reality).

Run dates: Self-paced, 5 weeks (2 hours per week)

Offered by: HEC Montreal (the graduate business school of the Université de Montréal)

Description: In a world full of choices today, especially online, consumers are discerning and will not waste their time on services/portals that do not deliver what they seek. This means that the smallest little design flaw could make or break your site/service. This is where learning UX (user experience) comes in! This MOOC takes you through the UX project cycle and is part of HECMontreal’s MicroMasters Program, which is industry-recognized.

Run dates: Self-paced, 4 weeks (6-9 hours per week)

Offered by: University of Leeds

Description: Here’s a course that may ease your anxieties about stepping into the workforce! It’ll help you better understand your personal communications style and share communication strategies for effective workplace collaboration across various settings (face-to-face and writing being two examples).

Run dates: Self-paced, 2 weeks (2 hours per week)

Offered by: The University of Edinburgh, Universidad ORT Uruguay

Description: Programming is a valuable and good skill; programmers are always sought after (and paid well). If you are completely new to programming and would like to learn for professional reasons or maybe just for passion’s sake, this course covers the very basics and how to program in Scratch. Upon completion, participants will receive a shareable certificate that can be added to your LinkedIn page.

Run dates: 7 weeks (2-6 hours per week)

Offered by: Macquarie University

Description: Excel skills are an asset to anybody, no matter what industry you plan to enter. They can come in handy when sorting out finances, for one. Thankfully, Macquarie University offers an Excel Skills for Business Specialization (this is the first module out of four) that lets you pick up the Excel or refresh your rusty memory. This one covers the basics, so don’t worry too much about its difficulty!

Run dates: Self-paced, 6 weeks (3-6 hours per week)

Offered by: Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden)

Description: Worried about your carbon footprint, or striving to be more environmentally conscious (less plastic bags, etc)? This MOOC will assist you by helping you to evaluate your choices and make more sustainable ones, through modules covering the themes of globalization, climate change, food and energy as well as chemicals.

Run dates: Archived, but course materials remain available (6-8 hours per week)

Offered by: University of California (Berkeley)

Description: Some of us have a little difficulty adapting to university because of the markedly different writing style that it demands. While most schools have bridging classes or writing modules, taking a refresher course, or practising on your own time, couldn’t hurt. Learn how to manage tone and diction, along with editing skills as well as vocabulary, in this MOOC.

Run dates: Self-paced, 6 weeks (3-5 hours per week)

Offered by: The University of Queensland (Australia)

Description: This MOOC goes beyond interview skills and resume writing to teach you how to take your experiences and extract the learnings (skills and knowledge) to convince future employers of your potential and capabilities. It also lets you hear from employers, current students, and graduates, on topics like what skills are sought after in graduates, to transitioning successfully from school to the workplace.

Run dates: Self-paced, a total of 7 modules (1-2 hours each)

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