OU Offers Free Undergraduate Course

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 | 10:33:00 pm

While it may seem a little off topic,  there are certainly things here of interest to those with an interest  in Wagner. We recently discovered that the Open University offers a number of distance learning course on-line and for free.  While nodoubt intended to offer "tasters" to their full graduate and undergraduate course many of the modules themselves - for that is what they appear to be - would seem to offer something of interest for more than a few people. We have gone through the list available under "Arts and History" and have selected a few we thought general readers might find of use or to be of interest. Click the header to be taken to the course overview. Expected study time anywhere between 10 to 24 hours. If its a tad "basic" for yourself perhaps you might want top pass this on? The Music Theory introduction seems especially useful.

An introduction to music theory

This unit provides an introduction to music theory pitched at a level equivalent to Grades 1-3 of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music theory exams. The material will provide you with an understanding of such basic building blocks of music notation as music staves, clefs, rhythmic and pitch values, rhythmic metre and time signatures. You can test your understanding as you proceed by completing simple multiple-choice questions.

After studying this unit you should have:
  • a satisfactory understanding of the basic building blocks of musical theory and notation
  • an understanding of music theory comparable to that demanded by Grade 3 of the Associated Board of the Royals Schools of Music theory syllabus
  • an understanding of music theory that enables you to move on to Open University Level 2 and Level 3 Music courses, e.g. A224 Inside Music.

Making sense of art history


In this unit you’ll explore art history. Look around you, it’s likely that wherever you are you’ll be able to see some images, it’s also likely that many of these image will be intended to have some sort of effect on you. Here you will be exploring the power of images via a study of contemporary art from the 1980s onwards. Taking the time to look beyond the immediate appearance of an art work to consider what the artist might be trying to say can be immensely rewarding.
Studying this unit will:
  • enable you to develop your ability to identify the effects of art works;
  • introduce you to a range of artistic techniques, such as the use of colour, composition and medium;
  • enable you to explore the relationship between effects and techniques in a range of art works;
  • enable you to explore some of the factors involved in interpreting meaning;
  • enable you to explore the significance of context in informing the interpretation of art works;
  • enable you to further develop your study skills.

Schubert's Lieder: Settings of Goethe's Poems

This unit looks at the short poems in German that were set to music by Franz Schubert (1797–1828) for a single voice with piano, a genre known as ‘Lieder’ (the German for ‘songs’). Once they became widely known, Schubert's Lieder influenced generations of songwriters up to the present day.This unit then discusses a selection of Schubert's settings of Goethe's poems, and recordings of all of them are provided. You can find the poems, in German with parallel translations into English and the music scores of four of the song settings, on the unit home page. You are not expected to be able to read the music, but even if you are not very familiar with musical notation, you may well find the scores useful in identifying what is happening in the songs.
By the end of your work on this unit you should:
  • have learned about Schubert's place as a composer in early nineteenth-century Vienna;
  • have learned about the place of Schubert in the history of German song and the development of Romanticism;
  • be able to follow the words of songs by Schubert while listening to a recording, using parallel German and English texts;
  • be able to comment on the relationship between words and music in Schubert's song settings.
This unit explores the Holocaust, as the destruction of European Jewry is commonly known. The mass killing represented by the Holocaust raises many questions concerning the development of European civilisation during the twentieth century. This unit, therefore, covers essential ground if you wish to understand this development.
By the end of this unit you should have:
  • a perception of the enormity of the events under discussion;
  • a recognition of the kinds of ideas and incidents which may have prompted them;
  • an awareness of the historical arguments surrounding the Holocaust;
  • an awareness of the relationship between the Holocaust and the war.

Accounts of Caravaggio's life are filled with suggestions of murder and intrigue. But does knowing more about this dark artist's experiences help us to interpret his art? Or does understanding his motivations cloud their true meaning? This unit explores the biographical monograph, one of the most common forms of art history writing.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
  • analyse the pros and cons of the biographical monograph in art history;
  • examine the strengths and weaknesses of the biographical monograph in relation to other kinds of art history writing
What is art? What is visual culture? How have they changed through history? This unit explores the fundamental issues raised by the study of western art and visual culture over the last millennium. It moves from discussing the role of the artist and the functions of art during the medieval and Renaissance periods to considering the concept and practice of art in the era of the academies before finally addressing the question of modern art and the impact of globalisation.
After studying this unit, you will be able to:
  • understand the changing perceptions and definitions of art across history
  • understand the relationship between ‘art’ and visual culture
  • understand the global dimension of art and how it has changed over time
  • understand the significance of notions of ‘function’ and ‘autonomy’ for art history
  • understand the role of patronage, institutions and the wider historical context in shaping art
  • understand some of the major developments in western artistic practice since the Middle Ages.
While recognising the shadows cast by two world wars (one concluded and one imminent) over European society during the 1920s and 1930s, this unit demonstrates how a number of specific features indicate that the interwar period was a distinctive and important moment of modernity in the twentieth century, from the rise of the metropolis and the emergence of new forms of mass media, to the changing lifestyles of women and the increasingly interventionist approaches to managing the health and welfare of modern populations.
After studying this unit, you will be able to:
  • understand the terms ‘modernisation’, ‘modernity’ and ‘modernism’ and the ways in which they relate to each other, as well as know about the experience of modernity in interwar Europe
  • understand the main historical debates about society and culture in interwar Europe, in particular a sense of the patterns of change and continuity, and the extent to which any change can be attributed to the First World War
  • interpret visual sources, use data in tables to construct arguments, and summarise historiographical review articles.
What is imagination and can philosophy define it in any meaningful way? This unit will introduce you to some of the possible answers to these questions and will examine why philosophy has sometimes found it difficult to approach imagination. It will then go on to examine the relationship that imagination has to imagery and supposition, charting where these concepts overlap with imagination and where they diverge.
By the end of this unit you should:
  • be able to discuss basic philosophical questions concerning the imagination;
  • have enhanced your ability to understand problems concerning the imagination and to discuss them in a philosophical way.