You don’t have to be enrolled in a college program to study theology, religious history and philosophy. Many traditional and online colleges provide free "open courseware" pages, which are free college programs that are available online for anyone to browse. If you’re just interested in learning more about these topics or you’re considering them as a college major, open courses are an excellent resource.
Whether you want to learn more about your culture or understand how different religions and societies have evolved, this list of 100 open courseware links will help you consider theology and philosophy in a completely new way. For lectures and study materials on Darwin, Catholicism, Judaism, the Enlightenment and more, read on.
Theology and History
In this list, you will find classes and resources committed to following theology from a historical perspective.
- Foundations of Western Culture II: Renaissance to Modernity: This course follows the social and scientific changes in the Western world from the Renaissance to contemporary culture, including the "the general loss of a supernatural or religious perspective upon human events." [MIT]
- Foundations of Theology: Biblical and Historical: This introductory class follows the evolution of the early Church and considers the Bible’s role as a reference for Christians. [Notre Dame]
- Islamic Societies of the Middle East and North Africa: Religion, History and Culture: Find out how Islam inspired and was affected by Middle Eastern and North African history. [Notre Dame]
- Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, The Search for a Scientific Culture: This e-seminar considers the period in American history between 1890-1945, when religious perspectives were changing, due to scientific and technological progression, especially in response to Darwin’s theories. [Columbia]
- European Civilization from the Renaissance to the Present: Webcasts, or lessons, in this course include Revolutions in Religion 1517-1555; Absolutism; Religious War and Witchcraft, and more. [UC Berkeley]
- America and the Muslim World: This five-part series of e-seminars considers Americans’ response to Muslim immigration and contact with the Muslim world, and how it has affected traditional religious beliefs and culture. [Columbia]
- Medieval Literature: Dante, Boccaccio, Chaucer: Analyze how religion and spirituality are depicted in medieval literature in this class. [MIT]
- The Emergence of Europe: From 500-1350, consider how European culture, identity, religion and the nature of power evolved. [MIT]
- The Renaissance: Find out how The Renaissance is partly credited with shaping modern day Christianity and attitudes towards spirituality. [MIT]
Better understand philosophy and logic with these college courses.
- Logic I: In this introductory class, you’ll learn the basics of a logical argument. [MIT]
- Logic II: Study Kurt Godel’s theorem about arithmetical statements in this course. [MIT]
- The Enlightenment: Study The Enlightenment’s mission to pursue science, reason and logic in this course. [The Open University]
- Historical Introduction to Philosophy/Logic: Consider this tutorial an introduction to studying logic and logical arguments. [Wikiversity]
Contemporary Philosophy and Culture
These courses consider contemporary philosophy and modern issues, like racial profiling, social justice, terrorism and more.
- Moral Problems and the Good Life: Aim to understand social justice issues and the debates surrounding topics like free speech, racial profiling and more. [MIT]
- Justice: Debate whether or not the concept of justice and a just society would feature Utilitarianism, Libertarianism, or Egalitarian Liberalism. [MIT]
- Philosophy in Film and Other Media: Study the presence and influence of philosophy in literature and opera and in films by Hitchcock, Bergman, Shaw and others in this class. [MIT]
- Metaphysics: Free Will: Debate topics like intention, moral responsibility and libertarianism in this course. [MIT]
- Political Philosophy: Global Justice: Understand the arguments for and against global democracy, intellectual property, border control, pluralism, human rights and more, from a philosophical standpoint. [MIT]
- Terrorism, Peace and Other Inconsistencies: This class examines the nature of peace, especially in a time of global terrorism. Other topics include religion and culture. [Notre Dame]
- Environmental Philosophy: You will study environmental history, economics, value theory and more when discussing environmental philosophy and the current environmental crisis. [Notre Dame]
- Topics in Philosophy of Science: Social Science: Study "current debates about the ontology, methodology, and aims of the social sciences." [MIT]
- Classification, Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change: Race as a Case Study: This course questions the idea of race. Consider whether it is a perceived concept or a natural concept. [MIT]
Learn about the history of the Jewish faith and how it is perceived today with these courses.
- Jews and Christians Throughout History: Topics covered in this course include anti-Semitism in Christianity and the possibility of Jews and Christians working together in the future. [Notre Dame]
- The Emergence of Judaism: Access historical resources to learn about post Biblical Judaism, community rule, the Dead Sea scrolls and more. [Internet Jewish History Sourcebook]
- The Jewish Middle Ages: This collection continues the evolution of the Jewish faith. Find resources on Jewish communities, converts, relations between Jews and Christians, and more. [Internet Jewish History Sourcebook]
- Jewish History from Biblical to Modern Times: Lessons in this course cover Jewish revolts, medieval Jews, early modern Jewry, the Holocaust, Israel and Jews in the United States. [MIT]
For a closer understanding of Asian religions, check out these courses.
- Women in South Asia: This course examines the history and significance of women in South Asia, and how they are affected by race, religion, caste systems and more. [MIT]
- Chinese Culture: Learn about Chinese religions and spiritual culture here. [Brooklyn College]
- Cultural Origins: Find resources relating to the Yellow River Valley Cultures and Japanese religious traditions here. [Internet East Asian History Sourcebook]
This list features Christianity courses about the Gospels, the Old Testament, Catholic theology and more.
- Catholic Theology: Learn all about Catholic theology by reading this collection of texts and resources. [Religion-Online.org]
- New Testament: Discover the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as more contemporary viewpoints of the New Testament. [Religion-Online.org]
- After Colombus: Discover how Colombus’ expedition brought Christianity to the New World and challenged ideas about identity and spirituality. [MIT]
- Introduction to the Old Testament: In this course, you’ll learn different methods of interpreting, critiquing and understanding the Old Testament. [Yale]
- Wesley: Discover John Wesley’s school of theology and learn about his own experiences here. [Religion-Online.org]
- Arthurian Literature and Celtic Colonization: Here you will learn how the Catholic Church and early British Imperialism swayed culture, identity and history. [MIT]
- Christian Ethics: Read resources that uncover the intentions, history and dynamics of Christian ethics and principles. [Religion-Online.org]
Reflect upon morality, moral principles, ideology and more in this list.
- Relativism, Reason and Reality: This class asks students to consider moral standards and their relativity to different cultures. [MIT]
- Violence, Human Rights and Justice: In this course, you can debate whether or not interfering in other cultures is right or wrong, if it is done in the name of peace and justice. [MIT]
- Major Authors: John Milton: In this course about John Milton, you will learn how Paradise Lost tackled controversial concepts like original sin and temptation. [MIT]
- Social Ethics: This philosophy course helps students understand the sources of social ethics and their reason. [Dixie State College of Utah]
Religion, Society and Anthropology
Discover how religion and society intersect and impact one another when you take these classes.
- Anthropology of Religion: Learn about religion as a cultural phenomenon in this course. [Utah State University]
- Politics and Religion: Find out how religious groups influence politics and the public here. [MIT]
- Faith and the African American Experience: This course focuses on the American Diaspora and aims to understand the African American spiritual experience from theological, social sciences and humanities-centric perspectives. [Notre Dame]
- Catholic Social Teaching: Consider the fundamental Catholic tradition of social teaching and social responsibility in this course. [Notre Dame]
- Darwin and Design: Study Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in this course to consider concepts like natural selection, the nature of the universe, and the debates that surrounded his ideas at the time. [MIT]
- Man, God and Society in Western Literature: This philosophy class combines anthropology, literature, and religion with philosophy. [UC Berkeley]
- Religion Today: Themes and Issues: Lessons in this course include Sources of authority, Differing perspectives, Religion and spirituality, and more. [The Open University]
- Crucible of Pluralism: Religion in Modern America: This e-seminar questions religious diversity and religious tension in America. [Columbia]
- The truth is in between: In this lecture, you’ll question how different religions consider their own identity and the concept of truth. [Gresham College]
- Black Churches: This collection of resources covers analyses and opinions about the principles and dynamic of black churches. [Religion-Online.org]
- Victorian Literature and Culture: By reading works by Lewis Carroll, George Eliot and others, you’ll learn how "religious crisis" influenced Victorian culture and tradition. [MIT]
- A Passage to India: Introduction to Modern Indian Culture and Society: Gain an understanding of how religion and theology, culture, and ethnicity are closely intertwined in Indian society. [MIT]
- Introduction to Anthropology: Get an introduction to cultural anthropology in this course to better understand identity, religious culture and more. [MIT]
Learn more about religious traditions, from old Christian traditions to Ancient Rome.
- Latino Theology and Christian Traditions: This course studies the evolution of the unique branch of Latino Christianity and covers topics in evangelization, social justice and more. [Notre Dame]
- Women in Islamic Societies: This Middle East Studies class considers how historical perspective and religious issues impact women in Islamic culture. [Notre Dame]
- Medicine, Religion and Politics in Africa and the African Diaspora: Learn about the dichotomy between Western medicine and traditional African healing beliefs in this course. [MIT]
- Southern Literature and Culture in the United States: Learn about the religious traditions and culture in the Southern United States when you view sample lectures. [Harvard Extension School]
- Congregational Life: This grouping of resources analyzes the dynamics of church congregations, including small churches and seminaries. [Religion-Online.org]
- Foundations of Western Culture: Homer to Dante: Learn about the creation and evolution of Western religious traditions in this class. [MIT]
- Introduction to Latin American Studies: Better understand Latin American cultural traditions and religious beliefs when you take this course. [MIT]
- The Ancient World: Rome: Reflect upon the religious trends and ideology that shaped Ancient Rome and paved the way towards Christianity. [MIT]
- The Ancient World: Greece: Here you will uncover religious and philosophical trends of Ancient Greece. [MIT]
- Topics in Culture and Globalization: Find out how religious, cultural, political and economic traditions mesh during attempts at globalization. [MIT]
Discover the works of Plato and other ancient philosophers here.
- Ancient Philosophy: Watch or listen to these webcasts to learn about Phaedo, Euthyphro the Republic, Nichomachean ethics and more. [UC Berkeley]
- Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love: Study Plato’s Symposium and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, plus other works that aim to "explore the nature of romance and erotic love." [Notre Dame]
- Ancient Philosophy: Study ancient Greek philosophy topics in this class, like happiness, death, the law, and society. [MIT]
- Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: Readings in this class come from Plato’s Republic and Timaeus, Aristotle, Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. [Notre Dame]
Philosophy students and enthusiasts can go crazy analyzing and theorizing in these courses about Descartes, the nature of love, the Enlightenment, and more.
- Problems of Philosophy: Think about the large questions in philosophy, like whether or not there is a god, what is personal identity, and more. [MIT]
- Classics in Western Philosophy: Study the works of Descartes, Plato, Socrates and Kant in this introductory course. [MIT]
- Paradox and Infinity: Study Zeno’s Paradox to Godel’s Theorem in this class. [MIT]
- Theory of Knowledge: Here you will consider the concept of knowledge, including knowledge of the past and knowledge of others. [MIT]
- The Making of Modern Europe, 1453 to the Present: Study The Enlightenment, The French Revolution, Machiavelli and more in this European history class. [UC Berkeley]
- Topics in the History of Philosophy: Kant: Study the Critique of Pure Reason in this in-depth class about Kant. [MIT]
- Imagination: The Missing Mystery of Philosophy: Understand imaginative experience and how it relates to philosophy and identity. [The Open University]
- Philosophy of Love in the Western World: Analyze the philosophy of love in different literary works and consider the nature of love and sex in this class. [MIT]
- The History of Modern Political Philosophy: Study the works of Hobbes, Locke, Burke, Marx and others when you view the sample lectures. [Harvard Extension School]
- Historical Introduction to Philosophy: Lessons in this tutorial cover ethics, metaphysics, logic, philosophy of religion, and more. [Wikiversity]
- End of Nature: This undergraduate course considers nature in relation to the environment and as a habitat for mankind. You will also learn about the idea of nature from ancient civilizations, in religion, and today. [MIT]
- Topics in Philosophy of Mind: Perceptual Experience: Understand the philosophy of perception in this graduate-level course. [MIT]
- David Hume: Read Hume’s essay "Of the immortality of the soul" and learn about deism, empiricism and the Enlightenment. [The Open University]
Spirituality and Identity
Understand how identity shapes religion, spirituality and philosophy in these courses.
- Introducing Consciousness: Learn how consciousness is defined, as well as the problem of the concept of consciousness. [The Open University]
- Philosophy: The Nature of Persons: Tackle concepts like freedom, resentment, the person and more. [The Open University]
- From Self and Other to We: Consider the notion of the Self and the Other, in regard to philosophical and religious systems. [Gresham College]
- Greek Mythology: Understand how ancient Greeks worshipped Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite and others. [University of Washington]
- Japan in the Age of the Samurai: History and Film: This course paints an interesting portrait of samurai culture. You’ll learn about Zen Buddhism, warrior identity and more. [MIT]
- Ethnic and National Identity: Learn how religion, society, race, migration and other issues affect identity. [MIT]
- Myth, Ritual and Symbolism: Gain a stronger understanding of rituals, magic, mythology and more. [MIT]
- Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures: Here you’ll learn to consider "Islamic architecture both as a historical tradition and as a cultural catalyst." [MIT]
- Identity and Difference: This anthropology course questions how an "individual [can be] at once cause and consequence of society." [MIT]
- Techno-identity: Who we are and how we perceive ourselves and others: Continue to reflect on the nature of human identity, especially in contemporary society, in this course. [MIT]
From Shakespeare to Christian evangelism to Asian history, these courses will indulge all sorts of theology and philosophy junkies.
- Learning from the Past: Drama, Science, Performance: In this class, you’ll study the works of Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Moliere and Descartes to discover how the scientific method and ideas about religion, art and society intersected. [MIT]
- History of Western Civilization: Study The Crusades and The Reformation in this course. [Boise State]
- Evangelical – Conservative Theology: View reviews, papers and other resources about evangelism and American Christianity here. [Religion-Online.org]
- The Nature of Mission: From world missions in China to the concept of baptism, this collection considers the nature of mission. [Religion-Online.org]
- From the Silk Road to the Great Game: China, Russia and Central Eurasia: This class discovers how religion, as well as culture, identity, politics, and war, passed between China, Russia and Central Eurasia and influenced modern life. [MIT]
- Islam, the Middle East and the West: Here you will learn about The Crusades, The Renaissance, Western expansion and Napoleon, the Islamic revolution and more. [MIT]
- Death: Topics considered in this course include immortality, the concept of death, and suicide. [Yale]
- Technology in a Dangerous World: This class reflects on how humans react to technology and information and how they perceive their own identity in relation to technology. [MIT]
- France 1660-1815: Learn about the Enlightenment and its effect on history and modern philosophy here. [MIT]
- The Age of Reason: Europe in the 18th and 19th Centuries: Discover this revolutionary time in European history. [MIT]