Short Courses

Open Lectures 2021/22

The Centre for Open Learning's Open Lecture series is back... and everyone is welcome!

Logo for COL Open Lecture Series 2021-22

Following the success of last year's programme, the Centre for Open Learning (COL) is delighted to share details of the 2021/22 Open Lecture series. 

The Open Lecture series celebrates the diversity of COL's courses and the passions of our colleagues with a programme of exciting and relevant lectures delivered online by our University of Edinburgh Teaching Fellows. 

And the best bit? 

The Open Lecture series is FREE and OPEN TO ALL. 

Below you'll find full details of the series which will run through Autumn and Winter.

As you can see, there really is something for everyone so no matter where you are, book your spot, ‘Coorie-In’ (as we say in Scotland!) and let us bring the University of Edinburgh to you 


Bloody Marvellous! The Vampire as a Cultural Icon

David Wingrove | Thursday 4 November 2021 (19:00-20:15)| Free | ONLINE

How has our myth of the vampire changed – in the space of just 200 years – from an object of revulsion and terror to an icon of erotic and pop cultural obsession? How did we get from the ancient vampire lore of Europe and the Middle East to the glitzy superstar images of Anne Rice and Twilight? Drawing on literature and painting, film and TV, this one-hour lecture will trace the Undead from their mythological roots all the way to the vampires we know and love today. 

No previous vampire knowledge is required and all are welcome! 

Sign up for this FREE Open Lecture here


Ripping up the Textbook: Smith and Marx in the Age of Pandemic and Climate Emergency

Dr Brian McGrail | Thursday 09 December 2021 (19:00-20:15) | Free | ONLINE

How relevant is the work of Adam Smith and Karl Marx to the 21st century? On the basis of ‘textbook’ or popularised accounts one would be forced to conclude ‘not very’! But are such accounts accurate and, therefore, fair? Using a number of contemporary examples, this lecture will question widely-accepted ideas about the work of Smith and Marx, and highlight inaccuracies by returning to the original writings. The path is then cleared for a thorough reassessment.

Sign up for this FREE Open Lecture here


Developing a Hybrid Design Practice

Pushpi Bagchi | Thursday 20 January 2022 (19:00-20:15) | Free | ONLINE

The discipline of Design is generally understood to have evolved with mass manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. This narrative offers one perspective on the evolution of Design as a discipline and culture, specifically, a Eurocentric one. By navigating my experiences of studying, researching, and practising design across Britain, India, and Sri Lanka, alongside current discussions to decolonise Design, this talk visually reflects on what it might mean to develop a hybrid design practice. 

Sign up for this FREE Open Lecture here


From Deep Time to the Capitalocene: Sediments, Soils, and the Geoarchaeology of Inhabited Landscapes

Nikolaos Kourampas | Thursday 10 February 2022 (19:00-20:15) | Free | ONLINE
Human societies, with their companion species, technologies, ideologies and socio-political systems, have mediated sediment deposition, soil formation, and landscape change since the emergence of our species. This mediation has intensified dramatically in the last five centuries, as capitalism expanded from its European cradle to engulf the entire earth system in its webs of accelerating extraction, commodity production, consumption, and discard.  As archives of the complex interactions that constitute the landscape, sediments and soils can offer unique insights into the history of inhabited landscapes and human ecological conditions. Drawing from geoarchaeological work and perspectives from the environmental humanities, this talk will explore some of these insights.​​​

Singing the Nation: Choral Music in Estonia Under Soviet Occupation  

Cole Bendall | Thursday 24 February 2022 (19:00-20:15) | Free | ONLINE

Commonly nicknamed the “Singing Nation,” Estonia and Estonians have embraced singing as part of its national identity and culture since the 1800s. Its political identity has undergone significant change in the past century – while claiming independence and self-determination, it was subject to both Nazi and Soviet occupation across much of the 20th century. Choral singing was used as a means of expressing group identity, including movements and composers that were in favour of Soviet values (at least on a surface level), and those who were vehemently against the Soviet occupation.

Drawing upon his recent doctoral research, in this lecture Cole Bendall (Teaching Fellow in Music) provides an illustrative introductions to issues in 20th century Estonian composition and culture, profiles major composers such as Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis, and provides a critical assessment of the role choirs played – and continue to play – in the framework of forming Estonian national identities.

Sign up for this FREE Open Lecture here 

The Seven Deadly Sins

Dr John Gordon | Thursday 24 March 2022 (19:00-20:15) | Free | ONLINE

Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Greed, Sloth and Pride are the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’.

Where did this list of sins originate? How have these sins functioned in European culture - and why do they continue to fascinate in our secular times?

In this lecture John Gordon will attempt to answer these questions.

Sign up for this FREE Open Lecture here