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Robert Burns Lives!
A free online course on Burns from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow University

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Greater Atlanta, GA, USA
Email: jurascot@earthlink.net

This is not a typical article for our readers but it can be extremely beneficial for those who read these pages. Here is an opportunity put together by our friends at the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow for Burns aficionados to study and learn about him. It has been a pleasure for me to serve on the Centre’s business board for several years, and I look forward to taking this class and encourage you to do so as well. All of this started for me when I recently received the following email from Dr. Ronnie Young in the School of Critical Studies at the University.

Dear Frank

Greetings from Glasgow! Gerry Carruthers, who sends his best, asked me to forward you the details of a new free online course on Burns that the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow University is launching in January on the Futurelearn platform. I’d be grateful if you’d circulate the attached information to anyone who might be interested.

All best wishes


Please join me in participating in this exciting cost-free study of the poems, songs, and legacy of our Bard. My personal thanks to Ronnie and Terry McGuire for providing the details below on the three-week course.  It will be well worth even the busiest of us taking the time to involve ourselves.  (FRS: 12.15.15)

Starting 25 Jan 2016

Register now

In celebration of Burns Night 2016, the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow, in partnership with Futurelearn, will be launching the first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) on Robert Burns. The course ‘Robert Burns: Poems, Songs, and Legacy’ is free and open to all. We’re aiming to attract newcomers as well as long-time fans of the poet, including those with an interest in Scottish history and culture, or just poetry, literature and song in general.

This course will introduce learners to the life, works, and posthumous reputation of Burns. Over the course of three weeks, learners will explore three core questions: Who was Robert Burns? What made Robert Burns a poetic genius? What made Burns a worldwide icon? In the process, learners engage with diverse materials including poems, songs, music and video, as well as original publications and manuscripts by Burns and objects made to commemorate the poet.

Registration for the course is now open at


To view the extended trailer for the course, visit http://tinyurl.com/pely48s

Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy

Celebrate Burns Night online, and dig deeper into the life and works of Robert Burns, with this free University of Glasgow course.

About the course

If you’ve ever welcomed in the New Year with a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” or enjoyed a whisky and haggis on 25 January, you’re likely to be one of the thousands, nay millions, of fans of Robert Burns around the world.

Now you can celebrate the poems, songs, and legacy of the great Scottish poet in a new way - with this free online course from the University of Glasgow, which begins on Burns Night 2016.

Learn how an 18th-century Scottish poet became a global icon

Over three weeks, we’ll introduce you to the life and works of Robert (“Rabbie” or “Robbie”) Burns, exploring three core questions:

  • Who was Robert Burns?
  • What made Robert Burns a poetic genius?
  • And what made Robert Burns a global icon?

In the process, you’ll examine archive material, original publications and manuscripts by Burns himself, recordings of Burns songs and examples of objects used to commemorate the poet. You’ll also look at and learn to interpret a selection of Robert Burns’s works in the context of Scottish history and culture. Poems and songs covered in the course include:

  • Auld Lang Syne
  • To a Mouse
  • To a Haggis
  • Ae Fond Kiss
  • A Red Red Rose
  • Scots Wha Hae
  • A Man’s a Man for a’ That
  • The Vision

Setting things in a wider context, you’ll also develop your understanding of Robert Burns’s reputation - from the rise of Burns Clubs and Burns Suppers following his death, to the continuing celebration of the poet today through Burns Night, Hogmanay (New Year) and beyond.

Learn with Scotland’s leading experts on Robert Burns

You’ll learn with experts from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow, which leads the world in the academic study of the poet, his life and works, the history and culture of the period in which he lived, and his ongoing legacy.

So join us on 25 January 2016, for a Burns Night with a difference.

·        FREE online course
   Duration: 3 weeks
   4 hours pw
   Certificates available



Gerard Carruthers


No previous experience or qualifications are required for this course - just an interest in Robert Burns, Scottish history and culture, or poetry and song in general.

Get a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats — to show that you’ve taken part.

Join the conversation on social media

Use the hashtag #FLRobertBurns to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.

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