Free history classes let you study the history of dead civilizations, living nations, and legendary figures who shapes the world around them–and the world we live in today. History is the study of past events, but it’s also the story of humanity. I often tell people that history is about the most interesting people who ever lived, but it’s so much more. History truly is everything in the human experience rolled into one subject. While history has a reputation as a dry subject, I can’t imagine why a person wouldn’t be interested in their past and our common past.
Online College History Courses
To start with the list of interesting history subjects you can study online for free, I wanted to link to a historical course sample as an overview of what’s available. You can learn how to read the past or take a survey course of ancient history. You can study what war memorials and the commemoration of past events will tell us, or you can get into the details of history by studying the events of a region or small country like Wales.
- Reading in the Past – 1 Hour – Intermediate
- Introducing the Classical World – 20 Hours – Intermediate
- Welsh History – 25 Hours – Introductory
- War Memorials and Commemoration – 4 Hours – Introductory
Free Classes at University of Massachusetts, Boston
The University of Massachusetts at Boston offers two free courses. The first is the Dark Ages free course, which includes two course hours three times a week and discusses the dissolution of the Roman Empire and the waves of invasions by Germans, Arabs, and Magyars. Also discussed are the development of Roman Catholicism based on the Pope in Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church backed by the Greek or Byzantine emporer in Constantinople (Istanbul), along with the process of manorialism and feudalism (decentralization) that characterized the period in Europe. The second class is 19th Century Europe, covering each of the major European nations from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 until the year 1900.
Open University Free Courses
Open University has the best online history program I’ve found, though I did find one other I’ll present later. Below are some of the most interesting or illuminating courses I found through the OU free online college course portal.
Dundee, Jute, and Empire is a study of the economics of empire, using the Scottish port town of Dundee in Eastern Scotland as its focus. This 15-hour introductory course discusses the impact of the Industrial Revolution coming at the same time Britain’s established the largest empire ever built–covering one-fourth of the Earth’s land surface.
Heritage Study of Scotland shows how Scotland differs from the other nations in the United Kingdom, due to a divergent history, ancestry, and therefore heritage.
Origins of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms sounds like a study of Chinese history, but it’s actually a course on Ireland, Scotland, and England during the time of the unfortunate Charles I. This is a 12-hour introductory course.
Brighton Pavilion is another class where history, art, and literature intersect. Study how the king’s pavilion became a focus for artists of the 19th century.
The French Revolution was one of those handful of watershed happenings which change the world. European politics remained largely medieval before the French Revolution. In its aftermath, the contemporary divide between revolution and reaction occurred, while Europe got a hefty push toward the age of nation-states that dominated the scene in the 19th and 20th century–and may continue for some time.
More Free Online College Courses
History is an easy subject to package into free online history courses, because so much of the learning is done through the reading of national and personal histories, the study of maps, and the rote memorization of timelines and red-letter dates. Having a good history lecturer brings these old stories and events to life, but what you need in the way of good lectures can easily be transferred online. So you’ll find a vast repository of good online coursework on the Internet for student historians.
Monterey Institute Free Classes
For high school students and high school graduates wanting to enter college with a little bit of university learning under their belt, the Monterey Institute’s free history classes gives them a number of New World lessons. From Pre-Columbian America to the upheavals of the mid-18th century, you’ll learn about North, Central, and South America in colonial times. These 10 lessons are for high school and pre-college level students, but are formatted as college classes.
- The First Americans
- Europe and the Impulse for Exploration
- French and Spanish Exploration
- First English Settlements
- Northern Colonies
- Middle, Chesapeake, and Southern Colonies
- Colonial Life
- Scientific and Religious Transformation
- French and Indian War – 1756-1763
- Imperial Reorganization of 1763
The World Since 1492 is in many ways a study of our modern civilization. Many historians date the modern era to around 1500, since 1500 was about the time when the ideas of the Renaissance and humanism, which came to Italy a century or so before, began to replace the medieval ideas of spirituality and religion across Europe on a wider scale. These are the generations when Europe began to assert its dominance over the numerous continents of Earth, emerging from relative obscurity since the time of Rome a thousand years before. These are the decades when the printing press was invented and Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation, thus ending the Roman Catholic Church’s long monopoly over religion in most of Europe. With the humanism of Late Renaissance artists and the brilliant discoveries of the early astronomers, Europe was changing, and a transformed Europe changed the world into what we recognize today.
This course focuses on specific geographical eras over the course of these 500 years, so understand that you’ll be getting a broad survey of an eventful period in Earth’s history. Most of what modern people know of the world occurred in this time, so that’s a lot to cover in one semester.