Course reviews

Since the start of the year, I’ve spent a healthy chunk of my spare time studying. I have to say, I’ve been amazed at the quality and variety of free online education available in the form of MOOCs (massive open online courses). With six down, three in progress and handful more coming up, it’s time to turn in some reviews!


Marine Megafauna: Introduction to Marine Science and Conservation

Duke University (8 week course)
Crabeater-seal david w johnson
Image by David W. Johnston, course instructor and Assistant Professor at Duke University

Rating: 4.5/5

Comment: Great subject matter delivered by a passionate instructor. Quite a lot of work involved with lectures, tests, reading material (PLOS ONE scientific papers) and assignments, but well worth the effort.

Certification available: Statement of Accomplishment (I achieved a 98% grade which meant that mine came with a distinction)

Next session: Not yet advertised. Sign up to be notified!


Dino 101: Introduction to Paleobiology

University of Alberta (12 week course)
 Dino 101

Rating: 4.5/5

Comment: Another terrific MOOC featuring engaging material and presenters. This one gets points for variety – they regularly changed up the format of the video lectures and even took us on-site to excavations in the Alberta Badlands.

Certification available: Statement of Accomplishment

Next session: Not yet advertised. Sign up to be notified!


Design: Creation of Artefacts in Society

University of Pennsylvania (8 week course)
[in progress] – Check back later for review!


Ocean Solutions

University of Western Australia (8 week course)
[in progress] – Check back later for review!


FutureLearn logo

Community Journalism

Cardiff University (5 week course)

Rating: 3.5/5

Comment: A lot of really useful tips were offered in this one, and I liked the fact that they interviewed a variety of experts in the field.

Certification available: No statement available

Next session: Not yet advertised


Climate change: Challenges and Solutions

University of Exeter (8 week course)

Rating: 3/5

Comment: Such an important topic, but I must admit I struggled with some of the higher-level scientific concepts. Again, a variety of subject matter experts were brought in to discuss various topics, keeping it interesting. My favourite part of the course involved learning about ocean acidification.

Certification available: Statement of Participation

Next session: Not yet advertised


Fairness and Nature: When Worlds Collide

University of Leeds (2 week course)

Rating: 3/5

Comment: Good short course – complex concepts and policies were explained simply, and the course provided much food for thought.

Certification available: Statement of Participation

Next session: Not yet advertised


Introduction to Ecosystems FuturelearnIntroduction to Ecosystems

The Open University (6 week course) 

[in progress] – Check back later for review!



Writing for the Web

Open Universities Australia (4 week course)
 Writing for the Web Open2Study

 Rating: 1/5

Comment: Unfortunately, this course only offered very basic, common sense information, no variety in the format of the lectures, limited visual aids and came across as amateur when compared to offerings from other platforms (see above).

Certification available: Certificate of Achievement

Next session: Starts in 2 days. Find out more



Coursera Certificate Statement of Accomplishment Dino 101 Coursera Certificate Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction Marine Megafauna Certificate of Achievement Open2Study

Coming up…

  • Animal Behaviour | University of Melbourne (8 week course via Coursera)
  • What a Plant Knows (and other things you didn’t know about plants) | University of Tel Aviv (7 week course via Coursera)
  • Exploring Our Oceans | University of Southampton (6 week course via FutureLearn)

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