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Short courses

You only need a few hours a week to study a short course with The Open University. Choose from a range of subjects that can help you build a new skill set, discover a new hobby, or give your career a boost through continued professional development.

Choose from: Chinese | Communication and cultures | Creative writing | Film, media and photography | French | German | Italian | Music | Project management | Spanish | Welsh

Chinese

Discover a language and culture steeped in history and tradition with a short course learning Mandarin Chinese. Our short courses are suitable for beginners.

Street lights of a Chinese high street

Beginners Chinese 1:
开始吧 kāishĭ ba!

Start learning Mandarin Chinese on a short course that’s perfect for beginners (CEFR level A1).

 
Solo female backpacker walking across the Great Wall of China

Beginners Chinese 2:
开始吧 kāishĭ ba!

Expand your Mandarin vocabulary by exploring topics like food and leisure activities (CEFR level A1).

 
Two young women cycle past a traditional Chinese temple

Beginners Chinese 3:
开始吧 kāishĭ ba!

Ideal for those with a grasp of beginners’ Mandarin to improve their skills (CEFR level A1).

 
Chinese businessman uses mobile phone in front of skyscraper

Chinese business culture essentials

Build positive, long-term business relationships using knowledge of Chinese culture and values.

 
Close-up view of a traditional Chinese lantern

Elementary Chinese 1:
入门了 rùmén le!

Step up your basic knowledge of Chinese with our elementary course in Mandarin (CEFR level A1).

 
Mixed gender group of young people enjoy Chinese street food

Elementary Chinese 2:
入门了 rùmén le!

Take your Mandarin up a level with new topics such as feelings and opinions (CEFR level A2).

 
Close of a pair of older hands giving red envelop to a child

Elementary Chinese 3:
入门了 rùmén le!

Develop your Mandarin vocabulary, including how to apologise formally and give presents (CEFR level A2).

 
 

Communication and cultures

Communication helps build connections and understanding of the world we live in, both now and in the future. Develop this key skill with a short course.

Close up of home smart hub display

AI matters

Examine historical, ethical and social issues around Artificial Intelligence technology.

 
Two men greet each other with a bow

An introduction to intercultural competence

Improve your intercultural communication skills in the workplace.

Close up of home smart hub display

The languages of crises

Examine the role of languages and cultures in situations of crisis across the world, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

 
 

Creative writing

Whether you want to develop your writing skills professionally or just for fun, our creative writing short courses will support and inspire you on your creative journey.

Young woman writes at a cafe table

Introduction to creative writing

Develop your creative writing skills as you explore poetry, fiction and scriptwriting.

 
Young man with blue hair writes in notebook

Travel writing

Learn how travel writers bring their journeys to life and begin writing about a journey of your own.

 
 

Film, media and photography

Delve into the fascinating world of film, media and photography with a short course, including some exciting new courses written in partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI).

Racks of film reels

A story of documentary film

Trace the history of documentary film in Britain using the collection held by the BFI National Archive.

 
A man holds a film camera pointed at a couple in a forest in the distance

Film and the environment

Explore film’s fascinating relationship with the environment, from its fossil-fuel reliant past to potentially, eco-friendlier future.

 
A group of protesters hold up banners

Media, politics and society

Discover how the relationship between media, politics and society impacts your everyday life.

 
Young woman leading a meeting

Reading the screen: an introduction to the art of film

Learn how a filmmakers’ choices help create their characters, narratives and ‘story-worlds’.

 
Young woman holds a camera and looks at the sky

Digital photography

Broaden your photography skills with a course produced with The Royal Photographic Society (RPS).

 
 

French

From food to fashion, discover the French language and culture in your own time with a short course delivered through bite-sized blocks perfect for beginners.

View of the Eiffel Tower

Beginners French 1:
eh oui!

Kick-start your learning journey with this introduction to French designed for beginners (CEFR level A1).

 
View road sign in French

Beginners French 2:
bien sûr!

Continue to build your French skills for communicating in everyday situations (CEFR level A1).

 
Couple sit outside a French cafe

Beginners French 3:
absolument!

Enhance your knowledge of French to prepare for further language study (CEFR level A2).

 
A man walks past the Arc de Triomphe at dusk

Elementary French 1:
allons-y!

Start to understand and produce more complex language with an elementary course (CEFR level A2).

 
Woman with her back to the camera looks over the Seine

Elementary French 2:
en avant!

Explore exciting new subjects in French, such as employment and studying (CEFR level B1).

 
Group of mature women doing Yoga outdoors in France together while on a wellness vacation.

Elementary French 3:
vous y êtes!

Learn to talk about your health and improve your grammar by using different tenses (CEFR level B1).

 
 

German

Say ‘ja’ to learning one of Europe's most widely used languages with a German short course ideal for beginners.

Lights and stalls of a German Christmas market

Beginners German 1:
fang an!

Discover key German phrases and the cultural diversity of German-speaking countries (CEFR level A1).

 
Woman looks over German town

Beginners German 2:
mit Vergnügen!

Study new topics like food, seasons, and time to build up your German vocabulary (CEFR level A1).

 
Brandenberg Gate at night

Beginners German 3:
richtig so!

Further your German knowledge by learning to give your opinion on new and varied topics (CEFR level A2).

 
Three women in traditional Bavarian dress laugh at Oktoberfest

Elementary German 1:
sprechen und verstehen

Learn to express your opinions and start mastering everyday situations in German (CEFR level A2).

 
Mixed group take selfie in front of skyscraper

Elementary German 2:
sprich weiter!

Step up your German language-learning by taking on more complex conversations (CEFR level B1).

 
 

Italian

Learn to read, write, and speak Italian while immersing yourself in the lifestyle, cuisine, historic cities, art, and culture of Italy. These courses are suitable for beginners.

The Colosseum in Rome at sunset

Beginners Italian 1:
primi passi

A perfect 'aperitivo'! Learn Italian starting with simple topics such as reading menus (CEFR level A1).

 
Large mixed group laughing over dinner table

Beginners Italian 2:
in cammino

Build on your study and learn to talk about time, work, transport, and holidays in Italian (CEFR level A1).

 
The Venice canals

Beginners Italian 3:
stai andando bene!

Delve further into Italian language and culture by exploring geography, food and festivals (CEFR level A2).

 
Italian chef makes pasta

Elementary Italian 1:
in campo!

Step up your progress in Italian with new vocabulary and key expressions (CEFR level A2).

 
Two young women walk and talk through Italian street

Elementary Italian 2:
avanti tutta!

Develop your Italian skills, including talking about the past and childhood (CEFR level B1).

 
A middle aged man works on a tablet while sat on a sofa

Elementary Italian 3:
all’opera!

Explore more complex topics in Italian, including social media and Italian migration (CEFR level B1).

 
 

Music

Broaden your understanding and appreciation of music, from how it is created, the equipment used, to the impact in our everyday lives and on society as a whole.

Young man listening to something on headphones in front of sunset

Computer audio: sound and music in the digital world

Discover the history of computer audio and music from the earliest computers to modern technology.

 
Dolly parton mural painted on brick wall

Dolly Parton: music, identity and culture

Explore the relationship between music, identity, and culture through the work of the country musician and songwriter Dolly Parton.

 
Two young women sit on the shoulders of two mean in a festival crowd

Sound systems in popular music: from Jamaican dub to stadium rock

Learn about the cultural context and diversity of a variety of different sound systems.

 
 

Project management

Projects are how organisations make things happen. A short course can help you develop your knowledge of this methodology to apply in your own workplace or project.

Mixed group of office workers stand over table looking at document

Project management

Learn the key skills and techniques of project management to enhance your career.

 
 

Spanish

Over 500 million people worldwide speak Spanish. You too can learn one of the globe’s most popular languages with a short course perfect for beginners.

A man looks up at sagrada familia in Barcelona

Beginners Spanish 1:
¡Empezamos!

Discover one of the world’s most widely spoken languages with a short course (CEFR level A1).

 
View of Barcelona from above

Beginners Spanish 2:
¡En marcha!

Learn to talk about time, your daily and weekly routine, work, interests and hobbies (CEFR level A1).

 
Image of dinner table with glasses of red wine

Beginners Spanish 3:
¡Adelante!

Begin conversing in this popular language using new topics to build your vocabulary (CEFR level A2).

 
A woman in a flamenco gown casts a shadow on a wall

Elementary Spanish 1:
¡en camino!

Build on your beginners’ Spanish with new topics, including sport and grammar (CEFR level A2).

 
Three young women smile and dance with the sun behind them

Elementary Spanish 2:
¡vamos a seguir!

Advance your Spanish language skills with new topics, situations and phrases (CEFR level B1).

 
 

Welsh

In a few hours of study, a short course can open your world to other cultures. Discover hidden histories and forgotten traditions from around the world.

A sandcastle with a small flag of Wales placed on top sits on a beach

Discovering Wales and Welsh

Learn basic Welsh language skills while exploring key aspects of Welsh culture.

 
 

These courses may also interest you

In addition to our short courses, we offer a wide variety of Microcredentials – professional development courses lasting just 10–12 weeks designed to give you specialised skills through flexible online learning.

Find out more about Microcredentials