Ancient History Short Courses

Hello Ancient History enthusiasts!

Over the last two years I have been doing some investigating and today I will share with you my efforts. This post contains a collection of free ancient history courses you can find on the web. I believe it is important to learn and always expand our knowledge. Not only is it exciting to learn a new area of study but being so informed helps us to make better choices for our future, as they say in Battlestar Galactica, “all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.” Therefore, it is my hope that you find something of interest in this post. 


Old World Inspirational sign. Photographer: Nicolas Raymond, CC BY 3.0.


Coursera is an education platform that partners with universities and organisations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Earlier this year I completed Recovering Humankind’s Past and Saving its Universal Heritage through Coursera and really enjoyed the experience of learning with people from all around the world. There are multiple ways to undertake courses through Coursera such as self-paced, session and specialisations, each has its own benefits. Self-paced courses mean you can sign up at any time and all the course content will be there for you to work through in your own time. Session courses start and finish on certain dates. They are also the most popular type of course because learners get to interact with others doing the same course through discussions and activities. Here are a couple session courses starting soon on Courersa:

  1. Ancient Egypt: A history in six objects (Oct 26)
  2. Roman Architecture (Sep 7)

Coursera has recently introduced specialisations which are a targeted sequence of courses, aimed at helping learners gain a new skill. Specialisations, I imagine, would be used by professionals looking for professional development. Whatever way you choose to learn on Courersa there is always a option to earn a Certificate in recognition of your learning.

Session courses will have the join course button on the right-hand side under a drop down menu of start dates for the course.

It is easy to identify self-paced courses as the sign-up button is located on the course page banner.







Here is a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of ancient history courses I found in Coursera’s catalogue. Bear in mind that a session of each of these courses has just finished, so place them on your watch list and keep an eye out for the next lot of starting dates:

  1. Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets 
  2. The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem 
  3. The art and architecture of ancient Nubia 
  4. Greek and Roman Mythology
  5. The Ancient Greeks


FutureLearn is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform that provides a range of free courses from leading universities worldwide. Last year I completed Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome and Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier through FutureLearn. I enjoyed the format of those courses so much that I took another course through FutureLearn this year and I just finished Behind the Scenes of the 21st Century Museum. I have found FutureLearn courses provide a lot of additional information, along with the course work, which makes it is very easy to lose track of time while you are studying. For example when I took the course Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome the course page estimates it should take no more than 4 hours each week to complete the set work. I continual spent from 4am to 5pm on the day I set aside for this course, as the additional information was so interesting! FutureLearn courses include quizzes, discussions, activities and videos to help learners engage with course content. Here are some other courses from FutureLearn that may interest you:

  1. Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism
  2. Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East
  3. The European Discovery of China
  4. Corpus Linguistics: Method, Analysis, Interpretation


Searching under humanities or ancient history on edX yields some pretty exciting results. Everything from Ancient Greece to Mao Zedong plus all the great stuff in between! I have not taken any courses through edX but I have heard good reviews about the platform and the content they provide.

Universities & YouTube

OpenYale is an initiative of Yale University. Around 2007-09 they started recording lectures and uploading course work onto the internet, free for anyone to access. They have courses like Introduction to Greek History and Roman Architecture. Their full course catalogue can be found here. Many other universities have also created lecture content which they have made available to the public, like Swinburne University and The Open University.

For those who are auditory learners, there are hundreds a great YouTube channels all about ancient history. Here are a couple of my favourites: CrashCourse, an ancient history search on TEDx, Carlo Rolle, Louvre Museum and History Channel Documentary. 

If you know of courses you’d like to recommend, tell us about them in the comments below!