University of Oxford Online Courses Home » Evening College » University of Oxford Online Courses
The University of Oxford's Department for Continuing Education and the MSU Alumni Association's Evening College are offering MSU alumni and friends access to a selection of Oxford's online courses. Courses run for 10 weeks (100 study hours) and cost approximately $400-500 U.S. dollars depending on daily exchange rates. Participants will enroll in these noncredit personal enrichment courses choosing from topics in Archaeology, Art History, Creative Writing, Economics, History, Literature, Mathematics and Philosophy.
In a typical course, you will interact online with around 25 other students and your Oxford tutor. A wealth of graphic and text material will be provided complementing your readings from one or more textbooks that you will purchase for the course. These stimulating courses will give you an in-depth knowledge of the topics chosen. Courses have a limited enrollment with various registration and start dates throughout the year.
You can view full course descriptions and prices and register for these courses on the University of Oxford's website at www.conted.ox.ac.uk/msu. Oxford is offering these courses to MSU alumni and friends worldwide. MSU Alumni Paid Members save 20% on their registration fees. If you are not a member, join now!
Course topics include the following:
Archaeology in Practice
This course introduces students to the discovery of the ancient southern Levant, first by biblical scholars and later, as their discipline developed, by archaeologists. The aim is to explore the vibrant material world of the region from the second millennium to the early Roman period.
Archaeology of the Bible Lands
The southern Levant - home to three of the world's major religions - has long excited the interest of the west. Explorers and scholars of the nineteenth century, often inspired by the Bible, laid the foundations for the archaeological discovery of the region. The course investigates the archaeological richness of the Canaanite and Israelite worlds of the second and first millennia B.C., considers the evidence for Assyrian and Persian domination as well as discussing the material complexities of life under Roman rule.
Exploring Roman Britain
Britain's inclusion in the Roman empire for c.400 years has left us with impressive remains - Hadrian's Wall, the Roman baths at Bath and villas, forts and roads all recognisable in the British landscape today, but what was life like and how affected were people in different communities around the country during that time?
What are Greek myths? Who told them and why? How can we interpret them? Why are they still so powerful? How much history do they contain? This course will explore these fascinating tales from the past and attempt to make sense of them.
Origins of Human Behaviour: the evidence from archaeology
What makes the human species different from other primates? When did we become human? How did the brain and intelligence, language and social organisation evolve, and art, symbolism and religion emerge? Explore these questions and others through the archaeological and fossil evidence for the development of human behaviour from six million years ago to the end of the last ice age.
Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman World
Pompeii is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. Its fame and uniqueness are,of course, due to the remarkable way in which it was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. Using evidence from Pompeii, you can study public buildings, monuments, inscriptions and painted posters that reflect public life, houses and gardens that reveal how the people lived, shops, markets and streets where they earned their living, and tombs where they buried their dead.
Ritual and Religion in Prehistory
How can we begin to understand the spiritual lives of people in the distant past? When do religious ideologies first appear on the human evolutionary timescale? How can we recognise and interpret ancient myth and ritual from prehistoric burial mounds, temples, art and artefacts? Examine how tangible archaeological evidence from across the world can demonstrate ritual activity and sacred tradition.
Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers
Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens - the Vikings are usually regarded as bloodthirsty seafaring pirates, whose impact on Europe was one of fear and terror. Yet these Vikings were also traders, settlers and farmers with a highly developed artistic culture and legal system. This course uses recent findings from archaeology to examine these varied aspects of the Viking world.
Dürer to Bruegel: Northern Renaissance Art c. 1480-1580
This course serves as a sequel to the course 'Van Eyck to Memling: Northern Renaissance Art c.1430-1480', but also stands as a self-contained course. The ten sessions explore the riches of Northern European art from c.1480-1580; artists including Dürer, Bosch, Holbein and Bruegel will be studied, as well as the prints and sculpture of the period.
Indian Art: a History
The history of South Asian art over the last two thousand years is extraordinarily rich and diverse from Buddhist and Hindu architecture and sculpture to paintings and architecture from the Rajput and Mughal courts, and the impact of European colonialism. By examining the religious, ritual, social and political contexts in which these buildings and objects were made and use you will understand their impact and beauty in deeper ways.
Islamic Art and Architecture
From Spain and West Africa to South-East Asia and China, Muslim societies produced art of tremendous vitality and diversity for around 1500 years. This artistic production includes architectural monuments such as mosques, palaces, and civic centres to textiles, manuscripts, and portable objects in ceramic, gold, silver, metal alloys, ivory, and rock crystal. This introductory course explores the main stylistic and iconographic themes in Islamic art and highlights the diversity of its expressions.
Italian Renaissance Art: c.1400 - c.1500
From Bellini and Botticelli to tapestry and tableware, the material culture of the Italian Renaissance continues to fascinate us to this day. This course is an opportunity to explore a wide variety of art forms and to discover more about the cultural, social and historical background that made this period so unique.
Learning to Look at Modern Art
Should art shock or please? Modern Art, from the twentieth century to the present moment day, is full of challenges, as well as delights. By looking at and discussing a wide range of art works, from the sunflowers of Van Gogh to the 'readymades' of Marcel Duchamp, you will be encouraged to understand all its forms. Modern art reveals continuities and ruptures with the art and experiences of the past as well as offering new ways of thinking about our own times. This course was written by Mary Acton, author of our Learning to Look at the Visual Arts course.
Learning to Look at the Visual Arts
Do you ever look at a painting and wonder why you like it? Learning to look at paintings, prints and drawings from a more analytical and objective point of view can help to deepen your understanding, and appreciation, of art. As a group, we will discuss a wide range of pictures, exploring how composition, space, form, tone, colour, subject matter and visual techniques, all work to affect us when looking at a painting. By helping you to develop a visual vocabulary, this course will enrich the ways in which you engage with and interpret art.
Learning to Look at Western Architecture
What does a building tell us about the world for which it was created? From Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance palaces to skyscrapers and modern houses, by looking at a range of building types and historical styles, this course enables you to 'read' the architecture of the Western world in a critically informed way. Learning to recognise and to differentiate between the major architectural styles of the Western tradition will help you to understand how buildings reflect the imaginations of their architects and the societies in which they lived and worked.
Exploring the Universe
How old is the Universe? How unusual is the Solar System? How will it all end? Oxford astronomers Chris Lintott and Robert Simpson provide an overview of the last 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution, answering these questions and more.
Getting Started in Creative Writing
This course gives avid readers the skills necessary to turn a love of the written word into a practical experience. It introduces the key characteristics of creative writing, and students are supported with stage-by-stage guidance as they assimilate and put into practice a range of critical and creative methods. In addition to tutor feedback on the course assignments, participants will be encouraged to discuss one another's writing in the course forums, and will be given guidance on offering constructive and useful criticism.
Drama is a hugely popular art form. This creative and critical course will help students to turn their passion for drama, whether stage, radio, television, or film, into the craft of dramatic writing, and to understand and appreciate the work of established dramatists.
Few occupations are so wrapped up with myth and misconception as writing. This course aims to debunk the myths and through refreshingly practical and down-to-earth advice help anyone with the motivation to pick up a pen and write.
Writing Fiction for Young Adults
You will find your own voice and your own niche in writing for young adults, in sub-genres from realism to the supernatural. You will become confident in writing convincing dialogue and gripping narrative, and in creating situations and characters with which young adults can identify.
Is there a true story that only you can tell? This course is designed to provide you with the skills you need to turn experiences, recollections and real-life phenomena into literary works that are enjoyable and accessible to a wider audience.
How can poetic form help me to turn the passion and intensity of life into memorable expressions? How can an appreciation of the techniques used by past and living poets help me to improve as a poet?
The credit crunch of 2008-9 brought the effects of the global economy to everyone's attention. From international trade and global inequalities to the impact on our carbon footprints, this course analyses the global economy - what 'globalization' means in practice, and why it takes the form it does.
History of Economic Thought
This course evaluates the development of economic thought through the eyes of Greek, Chinese, Indian and European traditions before exploring economic thought in the context of the 20th Century. The course is historical in content and international in perspective allowing students to develop a critical understanding of the influence of evolving economic thought on contemporary global economics.
Leading Change and Action on Climate Change
All of us "individuals, local communities, businesses and governments" face urgent challenges presented by climate change and sustainability. What kinds of leadership and action are emerging for addressing these challenges? This course will examine climate change issues, current approaches to leadership at the local, national and global level and will support students in developing their own approach to leading change and innovation on climate change in a personal, local or professional context.
Macroeconomics: an introduction
The course provides a detailed introduction to Macroeconomics and encompasses the fundamentals of Macroeconomics. On completion of the course students will have the ability to critically assess real world macroeconomic developments at the 1st year undergraduate level. Moreover, students will be able to better understand the material in other online economics courses such as the "New Economic Powers" and "Globalisation".
Microeconomics: an introduction
Students on this course will develop their understanding of the technical aspects of Microeconomics such as opportunity cost, supply and demand, consumer and firm optimisation, market power and market failure.
New Economic Powers
In the global economy of the 21st century, Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) are suddenly emerging as major players, shaking up the existing order, and generating waves of uncertainty around the world. Will the U.S., Japan, and Europe be surpassed by these new economic powers? How did these countries achieve their success? Will that success last? What lessons can be learned from their strategies? And how will the world be reshaped by their emergence?
Social entrepreneurs are gaining international attention motivated by the desire for change and to see the world as it can be, not as it is. Students in the course will learn how social entrepreneurs have developed creative solutions to address social problems. The intention of the course is to develop knowledge, appreciate of the role of social entrepreneurs that create social change, deepen students understanding of the world around them, and to inspire you to use your skills and knowledge to be as Gandhi said, "the change you wish to see in the world".
Age of Revolution
Revolution was a powerful dynamic in European politics and society from 1789 to 1848. All over Europe radical citizens and reforming governments changed laws and ruling structures in a way which has created the forms of the modern European state. This course will examine this tremendous era of change.
Churchill: Soldier, Politician and Statesman
Sir Winston Churchill is regarded as one of Britain's greatest statesmen. His impact on the course of twentieth century history was profound yet his name still provokes controversy and debate. The aim of this course is to study Churchill's life in detail, to assess his successes and failures and to gain some insights into the complex personality of this fascinating politician.
Civil War and Revolution: Britain divided, 1640-1660
The Civil Wars which swept across the British Isles in the seventeenth century left few lives untouched. For many it was "a world turned upside down" as fathers fought sons, and brother killed brother. This course will explore the causes, conduct and significance of the English Civil Wars.
This course will examine the life and reign of Elizabeth I, from her troubled childhood to the death of the aged Virgin Queen. But what do we really know of this iconic queen? Can her reign be accounted a success?
English Landscape Gardens: 1650 to the present day
This course is the ideal introduction to English garden history. It provides an overview of five centuries of development, from Baroque formalism through the naturalistic landscape style, right up to contemporary cutting-edge planting style.
The reign of Henry VIII was a key turning point in British history. The aim of this course is to study in detail the political, religious and cultural changes of the period, and to assess the role of the king and other key personalities in the transformation of society.
History of Medicine
Focusing on the key turning points in the history of western medicine e.g. the advent of hospitals, the role of public health, the rise of biomedical research, this 5-week course offers insights into medicine's past, asks what has shaped contemporary medicine and how do people study it.
Investigating the Victorians
In the nineteenth century Britain experienced led the world in the dramatic process of industrialisation but the consequences for British society were far reaching. How were ordinary people affected by these developments? This course aims to investigate the lives of the Victorian people both rich and poor, in order to gain an understanding of the key issues that transformed Britain during this period.
Politics: an introduction
Politics and policy has an impact on us all, whether or not we choose to be politically active. An understanding of the key elements of politics is essential if we are to understand how and why political decisions are made, how governments work and make sense of national and global events.
The First World War in Perspective
The First World War is widely regarded as the defining event of the twentieth century, and continues to fascinate and appal in equal measure. This course seeks to explain why and how the war was fought, and to understand why its legacy remains relevant almost a century after it began.
The Making of Modern Britain
In 18th c Britain democracy was feared, protest was suppressed, religious intolerance prevailed. Over the next two hundred years, a modern, democratic, multicultural Britain emerged. This course will examine the key social, economic and political influences which have shaped Britain in the 21stc both as a nation state and as an international power.
Ancestral Voices: the earliest English Literature
Old English literature isn't all about battles and boozing: find out more...
How did three sisters living an apparently secluded and eventless life write some of the most original, passionate and dramatic novels and poetry in the English language?
Contemporary British Fiction
This course is for you if: you enjoy reading and discussing novels; you belong to a book club or reading group; you read reviews of fiction, you have opinions and ideas about novels; if you have ever thought 'so many books, so little time', and wondered how to decide which authors to try; if you have ever been daunted by terms such as 'modernism', 'magic realism' or 'postmodern' - and if you would like to: take your enjoyment and appreciation of fiction to the next stage; develop your ideas into coherent, backed-up analytical arguments; have technical terms demystified.
Learn to analyse, write about, appreciate, and above all enjoy literary texts.
English Poetry of the First World War
Some of the most powerful and moving English poetry of the modern period was written during or about the First World War.
Fiction by Victorian Women
Some of the greatest writers of the Victorian period were women. This course looks at the work of authors such as Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Margaret Oliphant, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon both as representing women's lives and women's issues, and as compelling fiction in its own right.
There's more to Austen than bonnets and romance. Much more.
Literary theory has changed the way we think about literature, language, identity, and society. Although theory might sometimes seem intimidating, it can be very accessible and exciting. This course aims to demystify literary theory, showing how it illuminates literary texts and enriches our understanding and enjoyment of literature.
Middle English Literature
Middle English Literature is not all prayer and piety and men in armour. Discover a rich cultural heritage in Middle English poems, plays and prose (modern translations); stories of high- and low-born, horribly good and gleefully bad, men and women; and the language and culture from which they sprang.
Nineteenth Century European Literature
Nineteenth- century literature was diverse, exciting and mobile; literary movements were not restricted to single countries, but developed through crossing linguistic and geographic boundaries. This course is for anyone who is interested in nineteenth-century literature and society, and will also appeal to anyone who would like to gain a greater sense of how literature transformed throughout the nineteenth century.
If you associate Shakespeare with the dull grind of school, prepare to think again!
The Modern American Novel
Some of the most wonderful fiction in English is by American writers. In this course we shall study five key novels of the twentieth century - by Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Silko, Morrison and Roth - that constitute contrasting interpretations of American experience in the modern age.
The Number Mysteries
Based on Marcus du Sautoy's book The Number Mysteries, this course explores the question, how natural is mathematics? Through numerous online activities and 'at home' experiments, you will interact with mathematics as you have never done before.
Bioethics for Beginners
Do you think reproductive cloning is morally permissible? Do you check food labels to exclude any with GM ingredients? Would you worry if the government introduced compulsory depositing of DNA in the national DNA bank?
Ethics: an introduction
In this introduction to ethics, we shall examine four important ethical theories, applying them to two practical questions: the rights of animals and euthanasia. There will be plenty of opportunity to engage in debate and test your own thinking.
Introduction to Philosophy
If there was a machine that destroyed all your atoms in Alpha Centurai, and reassembled an identical set here on Earth, would it be transporting you to Earth, or replacing you with a duplicate?
This course explores four topics in philosophy - knowledge, free will, reality and morality - through guided readings and participation in online discussion. This course will develop your philosophical skills and introduce you to the thinking of some key philosophers.
Philosophy of Mind
The philosophy of mind is one of the most exciting areas within philosophy. It is concerned with questions about the nature of mind and the relation between our minds and the physical world. This course provides an introduction to philosophy of mind by introducing you to the mind-body problem, one of the most intractable problems in philosophy.
Philosophy of Religion
God, it is said, is omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent. But an omni-benevolent God would want to do away with evil if he knew about it, an omniscient God does know about it, and an omnipotent one could do something about it. So if there is such a God why does evil exist?
Philosophy of Science
From washing machines and electric toothbrushes to moon rockets and large hadron colliders, science makes our live easier and tells us about our world. But how does science itself work?
If a group of people were stripped of their knowledge of their own particular place in society and characteristics (such as their level of wealth and intelligence), and asked to choose the principles of justice for society, what do you think they would come up with? Why would it be a good thing to ask them to choose these principles from behind such a 'veil of ignorance'?
Reality, Being and Existence: an introduction to Metaphysics
Is time real? Or does it exist only because change exists? Could time or causation go backwards? What does the relation of causation relate? Is everything caused? If so how can we have the freedom to make choices about our actions?
Theory of Knowledge
Imagine Jones owns a Lamborghini. Further imagine that I believe Jones owns a Lamborghini because I saw him driving one around one day. But now imagine that the Lamborghini I saw Jones driving was not the one he owns, so that the reasons justifying me in believing what I believe, are not those making my belief true. Do I know Jones owns a Lamborghini or not?