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9 Free Online Science Courses That’ll Change The Way You See The World

Learn something new today.

1 OCT 2015

If you’re anything like us, you’re constantly looking for ways to expand your mind (right now I’m 23 tabs deep in some awesome new physics, while simultaneously scrolling Facebook and watching a new documentary).

Whether you’re looking to take the next step in your career, get back into study, or simply learn something mind-blowing, one of the best ways to level up in a whole new subject fast is with a course. And thanks to the Internet, there are now a whole bunch of classes you can take from the comfort of your couch.


But there are a lot of time-wasters out there, which is why we’ve done the legwork for you and collected 9 online science courses from top universities like Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley. They're life-changing, and they just so happen to be free.

Check them out and make sure that next time you spend a couple of hours procrastinating online, you’re actually learning something at the same time.

1. Introduction to Computer Science

University: Harvard University

Next session starts: Whenever you want (it’s a self-paced course)

Commitment required: At least 100 hours all up

What you’ll learn: OK so it’s not strictly science, but programming is the must-know language of the future. This is the ultimate introductory computing course and perfect for people with no programming experience. It’ll teach you languages including C, PHP, JavaScript, SQL, CSS, and HTML. 

2. Astrophysics XSeries Program 

University: Australian National University

Next session starts: Whenever you like (it’s a self-paced course)

Commitment required: 3 hours a week 

What you’ll learn: The complete introduction to astrophysics. You’ll learn all the principles of modern astrophysics from Nobel Prize winner Brian Schmidt and other leading astronomers. You can find out the latest research on black holes, cosmology, exoplanets and supernovae… and then share with all your friends and your next dinner party. 

3. Food for Thought

University: McGill University 

Next session starts: October 7

Commitment required: 3-5 hours a week

What you’ll learn: With all the health information (and misinformation) out there these days, it’s hard to know what to eat. This course will teach you the scientific framework you need to understand what you should and shouldn’t be eating, and to make better choices about your health.

4. Climate Change: The Science 

University: The University of British Columbia

Next session starts: October 14

Commitment required: 2-5 hours a week 

What you’ll learn: Win every argument with climate deniers from now on. You’ll learn all the hard scientific facts on climate change and how to explain them in a clear way to anyone. You’ll also find out what we can really do to tackle global warming.

5. Super-Earths and Life

University: Harvard University

Next session starts: October 13

Commitment required: 5 hours a week 

What you’ll learn: Are we ever going to find life outside Earth? This course will teach you everything you need to know about the search for alien life, including where to look, how it might have started, and how we’ll find it if it’s out there. 

6. Computing: Art, Magic, Science 

University: ETH Zurich 

Next session starts: September 22

Commitment required: 5-10 hours a week

What you’ll learn: The key to quality computer programs is part science, part art and a little bit of magic. This course teaches you how to weave the three together and create programs that solve real-world problems. Suitable for beginners (and the most fun you’ll have while coding). 

7. Human Origins

University: Arizona State University

Next session starts: October 14

Commitment required: 18 hours a week

What you’ll learn: Where we came from! With the discovery of a brand new species of human ancestor, Homo naledi, in South Africa last month, we’re getting a clearer picture than ever before of how Homo sapiens came to exist. Learn all about the scientific evidence for human evolution in this course, and take a tour through our family tree with this course. You won’t look at our species in the same way again.

8. Developing International Software

University: Microsoft

Next session starts: Whenever you like, it’s self-paced

Commitment required: 3 hours a week 

What you’ll learn: If you can already program but want to take your skills to the next level, this is the course for you. Microsoft will teach you how to develop software for one market, and then ship it internationally with just a few small tweaks. You’ll also learn how to set up a sustainable software company from the ground up.

9. The Science of Everyday Thinking

University: The University of Queensland

Next session starts: Whenever you like (it’s a self-paced course)

Commitment required: 2 hours a week 

What you’ll learn: How to think better, argue better and choose better, thanks to science. Find out the psychology behind why we think the things we do, and how our opinions, expectations and judgements form. It’s the one course that’s guaranteed to directly impact your life and make your life a whole lot better.

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