Discover the world online for free
Explore museums, libraries, archives, articles and more all from your own home.
Compiled by academics and staff of Oxford Continuing Education, these freely available educational resources will take you around the world, and into history.
Departmental Lecturer in Archaeology Toby Martin recommends exploring your local area using Google Earth Pro as it 'allows you to turn back the clock all the way back to the 1940s for the aerial imagery in some areas'. Google Earth Pro on desktop is free for users to download (available on PC, Mac or Linux) and, as well as being able to go back in time with historical imagery, you can also import and export GIS data. If you aren't able to download Earth Pro, the standard version of Google Earth is also an excellent tool. Explore cities in 3D, take a guided tour, or create your own maps and stories. (Currently only available for Chrome users but due to be launched for other browsers soon.)
The Scottish Enlightenment
Scotland made a powerful contribution to the Enlightenment through the works of the country’s leading intellectuals. Scots produced original thinking in philosophy, economics and literature, and ground-breaking discoveries in geology, science and medicine. Through printed sources, manuscripts and maps from the National Library of Scotland’s collections, find out more about this remarkable period of Scotland’s history.
Tate Modern: Andy Warhol
The Tate Modern's Andy Warhol exhibition offers a 'new look at the extraordinary life and work of the pop art superstar'. If you can't make it to the exhibition, the online exhibition guide provides a great overview of Warhol's life and career. 'Popularly radical and radically popular, Warhol was an artist who reimagined what art could be in an age of immense social, political and technological change'. Watch the curator's tour and explore the 12 rooms of works.
Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum
Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum have partnered with Google Arts & Culture to create a new digital platform, allowing users to enjoy Britain’s oldest botanic garden and 130 acre arboretum from anywhere in the world. Wander through the world’s most threatened trees with Google Street View, learn more about the behind-the-scenes research, explore the online exhibits, or browse the vast library of images all from the comfort of your home.
Director of Studies in the Historic Environment Paul Barnwell recommends Architectural Histories. This international, peer-reviewed open access journal from the European Architectural History Network (EAHN) creates a space where historically grounded research into all aspects of architecture and the built environment can be made public, consulted, and discussed. The online journal is open to historical, historiographic, theoretical, and critical contributions that engage with architecture and the built environment from a historical perspective.
Director of Studies in Music Jonathan Darnborough says: 'The San Francisco Symphony has a great resource called Keeping Score which explores, in particular, the eight great symphonic works by composers as diverse as Beethoven and Stravinsky. Michael Tilson Thomas discusses the music with insight and you can listen to each piece with a scrolling score – so you never lose your place!'
Our Migration Story
Presenting the often untold stories of the generations of migrants who came to and shaped the British Isles, Our Migration Story is a useful resource for anyone interested in Britain’s migration history. The website is organised through stories of individuals and groups, and these stories are told through a diverse range of historical source material - arranged into four time-period categories: AD 43-1500; 1500-1750; 1750-1900; 1900-2000s. Across each period, you will find images, quotations, newspaper clippings, Parliamentary reports, videos, poems, extracts from novels, and many other materials that present the successes, challenges, obstacles and surprises faced by Britain’s migrants over more than a thousand years.
The Medical Heritage Library (MHL)
The Medical Heritage Library (MHL) is a digital collaborative project among some of the world’s leading medical libraries, promoting free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine. Their goal is to provide the means by which readers and scholars across a multitude of disciplines can examine the interrelated nature of medicine and society, both to inform contemporary medicine and strengthen understanding of the world in which we live. The MHL’s growing collection of digitised medical rare books, pamphlets, journals, and films number in the tens of thousands, with representative works from each of the past six centuries, all of which are available here through the Internet Archive.
Marianne Talbot, our Director of Studies in Philosophy, recommends two online encyclopedias for those interested in the history of philosophy. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), maintained by Stanford University, organises scholars from around the world in philosophy and related disciplines to create and maintain an up-to-date reference work. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) provides scholarly information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of philosophy.
British History Online
Sylvia Pinches, Course Director for the Advanced Diploma in Local History, recommends British History Online (BHO). This not-for-profit digital library, based at the Institute of Historical Research, brings together materials from archives, museums, libraries and academics - ranging from medieval to twentieth century. Until 30 September 2020 all transcribed content is freely available to individual users: 'This adds 200 volumes of primary materials. As a result, BHO's full complement of 1,280 volumes is now available for research.'
Google Arts & Culture: British Fashion Council
Claire O'Mahony, Associate Professor in the History of Art and Design, recommends the Google Arts & Culture British Fashion Council project. Claire says: 'If fashion is your passion the British Fashion Council project is full of fascinating virtual exhibitions about fabric, fashion and photography, from how Harris Tweed is made to the fabulous vision of Dame Mary Quant.'
Planetizen: The 100 Most Influential Urbanists
Dr Patricia Canelas, Departmental Lecturer in Sustainable Urban Development, recommends a Planetizen article listing some of the most influential urbanists of all time - including contemporary thinkers, activists, planners, and designers. Dr Canelas says that the article provides 'an entertaining run through the 100 top influential planners according to Planetizen’s reader votes. It is worth going through some of links to learn about the lives and achievements of these urban planners.' Planetizen is an independent platform aiming to create resources to 'inform planning and people passionate about planning.'
Professor Bob Lambourne, Departmental Lecturer in Physical Sciences, says: 'Particles such as protons and neutrons are the building blocks of nuclei. Nuclei together with electrons form atoms, and interactions between atoms lead to the formation of molecules. There are many interesting sites devoted to these microscopic forms of matter. For information about nuclei explore the U.S. National Nuclear Data Centre at Brookhaven National Laboratory. To learn about the chemical elements and the atoms (or sometimes molecules) of which they are composed try looking at some of the sites devoted to the periodic table - several of which were created to mark the recent International Year of the Periodic Table (2019). A good starting point is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s interactive periodic table.'
Ancient History Encyclopedia
The mission of the Ancient History Encyclopedia is to help people across the globe gain a deeper, fundamental knowledge of our interconnected human past in order to create curious, open-minded, and tolerant societies in the future. Explore the impressive media library, timelines, maps and audio articles.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
2019 marked the 450th anniversary of the death of the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Bruegel exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (2018-19) displayed around half of all the extant works by Bruegel and the accompanying exhibition website hosts a treasure trove of insight and imagery which can still be explored online. Bruegel was an astute observer, a storyteller, satirist and social critic. His paintings give us a window into the society in which he lived, and many of the central themes in his work remain highly relevant today.
Merriam-Webster Time Traveler
When was a word first used in print? You may be surprised! Merriam-Webster has a ‘Time Traveller’ web portal that lets you enter a date to see the words first recorded in that year. Most entries contain a date for 'First Known Use' - this is the date of the earliest recorded use in English, as far as it could be determined, of the oldest sense defined in the entry. Enter your birth year, and find out what words were born the same year you were, or reflect back on recent years and see what new words are now part of your every day vocabulary.
The Design Museum is the place where the design industry, education and the public come together to change the way people think about themselves and the future. Take a look at some of the designers who 'shape our lives and create our futures' or examine and explore the creative impulses that produced iconic designs including Concorde, Penguin Books and the London Transport System.
Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts
Carly Watson, Departmental Lecturer in Literature and Arts, recommends Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts. This online research project gathered together some 1,100 pages of fiction written in Jane Austen’s own hand. Through digital reunification, it is now possible to access, read, and compare high quality images of original manuscripts whose material forms are scattered around the world in libraries and private collections.
Yasmin Khan, Departmental Lecturer in British History, highlights NOTCHES - a collaborative peer-reviewed blog about sexuality that aims to 'to get people inside and outside the academy thinking about sexuality in the past and in the present'. Their aim is to create a space for discussion and debate about all aspects of the history of sexuality and to 'create a collaborative and open-access blog that is intellectually rigorous and accessible, historical and timely, political and playful'. Posts include 'Queer History and the Holocaust', ‘Sex, Sin and the Black Death in Medieval England', and 'Coming Out in the Trade Union Movement.'
Badilisha Poetry X-Change
Badilisha started out as an international poetry festival in 2008 but soon evolved into an online audio archive and Pan-African poetry show delivered in radio format. Now the largest online collective of African poets on the planet, Badilisha Poetry X-Change has archived over 500 Pan-African poets from 28 different countries - reflecting contemporary trends and evolutions in the medium along with some of the historic giants of African poetry.
Google Arts & Culture: English Heritage
English Heritage and Google Arts & Culture have collaborated on a project which allows you to ‘step into British history’ and explore behind the scenes of England's historical, architectural and cultural history. The site looks at ‘hidden histories’, with editorial highlights from historian Dan Snow on the five most influential sites in Britain, alongside other intriguing articles - such as the real housewives of English castles, the long history of Graffiti, and the five forgotten Black and Asian figures who made British History. You can also explore some of English Heritage's iconic locations, 'get close' to pieces of art, delve in to the stories behind iconic design and architecture and learn more about conserving and preserving English history.
Find thousands of freely licensed digital books, artworks, photos and images of historical library materials and museum objects at the Wellcome Collection website. The images reflect founder Sir Henry Wellcome’s interests and are a documentary resource reflecting the cultural and historical contexts of health and medicine.
IMSLP Petrucci Music Library
Director of Studies in Music Jonathan Darnborough says: 'A site I turn to constantly is the IMSLP Petrucci Music Library. Here you can find the scores of over 160,000 works freely downloadable in pdf format. As a bonus the site now hosts over 60,000 free recordings as well.' The main goal of the library is to 'gather all public domain music scores, in addition to the music scores of all contemporary composers (or their estates) who wish to release them to the public free of charge'. Another goal is to 'facilitate the exchange of musical ideas outside of compositions' so users can create/edit a page with their own analysis of a particular piece.
Oxford’s History of Science Museum has an online series of short films that bring to life unusual working instruments from the Museum’s collection - all of which are on permanent display but would not normally be handled or operated in public. The films include demonstrations, explanations and some historical background from experts at the Museum. In these unique videos, find out how scientists and mathematicians have made sense of the solar system and our understanding of time over the centuries.
James Lind Library
Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, recommends the James Lind Library, an online resource which was established to improve public and professional general knowledge about fair tests of treatments in health care and their history. James Lind was a Scottish naval surgeon who conducted a controlled trial for treatment of scurvy, and published ‘A Treatise of the Scurvy’ in 1753. The Library contains material illustrating the development of fair tests of treatments throughout history.
Creative Writing Tutor Frank Egerton recommends Lexico - an online collaboration between Dictionary.com and Oxford University Press (OUP) which aims to 'help users worldwide with everyday language challenges'. Frank particularly recommends its grammar pages as they provide a 'terrific and easily accessible guide to English grammar plus writing tips. A favourite page of mine is punctuation in direct speech - a brilliant summary of the rules of dialogue punctuation and a must for creative writing students.'
GOV | DNA
GOV | DNA is an interactive visualisation allowing you to explore the DNA of government. Work your way through the countries listed and investigate governmental influence, based on metrics such as judicial effectiveness, employment, political stability and government spending.
The Night Watch
The Rijksmuseum has published the largest and most detailed ever photograph of Rembrandt's The Night Watch. Made from a composite of 528 individual digital photographs, this incredibly detailed image allows you to zoom in on individual brushstrokes and particles of pigment. Led by data scientist Robert Erdmann, 24 rows of 22 pictures have been seamlessly stitched together digitally and the final image is a jaw dropping 44.8 gigapixels (44,804,687,500 pixels).
Lonely Planet: Google Maps Tours
Lonely Planet have created five city walking routes that you can explore using Google Maps - so you can 'pound the streets' of a new city from home. Discover Havana, Cuba; Split, Croatia; Melbourne, Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Bangkok, Thailand.
NASA offers educational resources and information about the missions and technological and scientific advances of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States. Explore galleries, videos, podcasts, learn about the solar system and watch ‘NASA TV’. You can also pilot the SpaceX Dragon using a simulator, check when the International Space Station (ISS) will be passing overhead using the live tracking map, and have a go at some astronaut training exercises.
BBC Modern Writers Archive
Delve into this rich resource containing a great number of interviews with noteworthy authors, from Margaret Atwood and PG Wodehouse, to Martin Amis and Monica Ali. Discover how they 'created the characters we love or hate, the evocative settings, and the plots that have us reading late into the night, desperate to know what happens.'
The National Archives
Christine Jackson, Associate Professor of History, recommends The National Archives online platform - particularly the 'reading old documents' tutorials. The National Archives is also running a series of online talks and webinars and so far they have covered angles of WWII, 1970s music and culture, and drinks tasting alongside a showcase of relevant records in their archive. Upcoming events include Caribbean Connections and Discovering your Local History.
The Diary of Samuel Pepys
Sylvia Pinches, Course Director for the Advanced Diploma in Local History, recommends reading The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Pepys private diary, covering a decade of his life from 1660 until 1669, provides an eyewitness account of historical events including the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. This website 'contains the full text of his diary, along with several letters sent or received by Pepys, plus thousands of pages of further information about the people, places and things in his world.'
Writers Make Worlds
Ben Grant, Departmental Lecturer in English Literature, recommends the Writers Make Worlds website. This Oxford-based project showcases and provides resources on important contemporary Black and Asian British writing. The website states: 'Writers such as Aminatta Forna and Andrea Levy, Daljit Nagra and Kamila Shamsie, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Bernardine Evaristo, have created work that fundamentally challenges prevailing ideas of British literature. They show us that British writing is not something produced only by white English authors, but has a diverse range of backgrounds and many different histories. This website offers ways into exploring this exciting work.'
Marianne Talbot, our Director of Studies in Philosophy, recommends the Philosophy Bites podcast series which features short interviews with philosophers. From there, you might move on to the works of David Hume, or explore a selection of texts by philosophers of the early modern period. 'Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living,' Marianne tells us. 'It is possible that the human capacity for reflecting on ourselves and our actions is unique in the animal kingdom. Philosophy guides such reflection. Everyone should try it at some point in their life.'
The Migration Observatory
Martin Ruhs, Associate Professor of Political Economy, says: 'The Migration Observatory is an Oxford-based “impact project” that aims to inform migration debates and policy-making in the UK. Their website includes a large number of short and easily accessible briefings, policy papers, charts and videos that explain what we know and don’t know about migration, its drivers and consequences for the UK. A great resource for anybody interested in immigration and integration!'
Take a virtual tour of the Giant's Causeway thanks to the National Trust. Choose from four 360-degree panoramic tours each showing a different view or time of day. Explore the tip of the Grand Causeway at sunset; take in the view of Aird Snout; see the sun rise over the bay at The Giant's Port; or gaze out towards port Noffer on a calm summer day.
History of Philosophy
Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and at King's College London, takes listeners through a dazzlingly comprehensive history of philosophy, 'without any gaps.' The series looks at the ideas, lives and historical context of the major philosophers as well as the lesser-known figures of the tradition - and draws from all over the globe.
The Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean Museum collections span more than ten thousand years, and contain more than a million objects. Their Collection Online was launched in 2018, with the aim of making 25% of the museum’s objects accessible online by 2020. Each month sees new objects added, so this is definitely a resource to bookmark! Also, take a look at the Ashmolean Museum’s most treasured objects, as chosen by its curators. Highlights from the museum, such as the Alfred Jewel, Guy Fawkes’ Lantern and Antonio Stradivari’s ‘Messiah’ Violin, are available for you to view and read more about.
All About Birds
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds and their All About Birds website provides free learning resources and guides for everyone to enjoy. Start with their Live Cams, which lets you observe fruit feeders in Panama, hawks in New York, kestrels in Wisconsin, albatross in New Zealand, and more. There are also resources for brushing up on your bird ID skills, learning games, an extensive collection of free articles from Living Bird Magazine, and more.
Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog
Shreya Atrey, Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law, recommends the Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog - a fantastic resource of short posts on contemporary human rights issues, updated every day with articles of 500-700 words. They welcome submissions from students, early career researchers, policy-makers, senior academics, lawyers and members of civil society organisations.
Ten Rules for Writing Fiction
Amal Chatterjee, Tutor in Creative Writing, recommends that those interested in writing should take a look at The Guardian's Ten Rules for Writing Fiction. Inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, The Guardian asked authors including Margaret Atwood, David Hare, Hilary Mantel and Michael Moorcock for their personal dos and don'ts for successful authorship.
Tutor Tony Buxton suggests that 'during this difficult time, we might like to consider the work and thoughts of the 19th-century reformer William Morris, whose own life can be seen as a struggle to determine and express what gives life value and beauty. Of necessity, the way in which we live at home has become central to existence at present, and for many, it has provided time to turn to more creative pursuits. We are also pondering the quality of life and the nature of our society after lockdown. William Morris was not someone who necessarily achieved workable answers, but raises ideals to value and thoughts to ponder. The School of Life podcast outlines the way in which Morris believed beauty in work and life should be available to all and art historian Abigail Harrison-Moore explores aspects of his work at Standen house in this HENI Talks video.'
Professor Jonathan Michie says: 'The Europe’s Stories website contains around 100 interviews, reporting people’s views on the best, worst, and most formative European moments, along with their aspirations for Europe in 2030. Readers worldwide will enjoy seeing a uniquely European perspective. And for those residents in the EU: here’s your chance to make European history. The self-interviewing feature lets you join these initial one hundred, to add your voice, and help create this evolving picture of what a post-pandemic Europe might become.' Jonathan Michie is Director of the University's Department for Continuing Education, Professor of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange, and President of Kellogg College.
Portable Antiquities Scheme
Departmental Lecturer in Archaeology Toby Martin says: 'The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a pioneering project that set out to record finds of artefacts made by the public in England and Wales. More than 20 years on, we now have an openly accessible database of nearly 1.5 million artefacts, dating between prehistory and the present day. You can go to the Advanced Search page and search for your parish and the period that most interests you. Might there be signs of a Roman settlement or Anglo-Saxon cemetery in your locality?'
Aubrey Beardsley exhibition guide and The Courtauld Gallery
Tutor Gordon Reavley recommends the Aubrey Beardsley Exhibition Guide from Tate Britain. Watch Curators Caroline Corbeau-Parsons and Alice Insley discuss the illustrator's ‘short and scandalous career’ and learn more about the artist. Gordon is a big fan of virtual art tours as they ‘offer unprecedented access to some remarkable examples and get closer to the art than would be possible live.’ He also recommends taking an online tour of The Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery which includes Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.
The Viking Museum
David Griffiths, Associate Professor in Archaeology, recommends the Viking Ship Museum’s website. David says: ‘The museum in Bygdøy, Norway, is one of the great museums of the world. Its centrepieces are the Oseberg and Gokstad ships, excavated in south-eastern Norway over 100 years ago. They are perhaps the most beautiful ships ever built, and are symbolic of the Viking Age. The website also has information on more recent discoveries.’ Explore the ships and take a tour of the fourth wing - where you can view all of the stunningly detailed grave gifts found with the ships.
Professor Bob Lambourne, Departmental Lecturer in Physical Sciences, says 'to get a better understanding of the universe you need to develop some insight into relativity, particularly general relativity (Einstein’s theory of gravity). A good starting point is the Relativity Tutorial by American cosmologist Edward (Ned) Wright from his Cosmology Tutorial website. However, for a completely different approach try the Einstein online site.'
Virtual tours of historic Eqyptian sites
Take a virtual tour of the 5,000-year-old Queen Meresankh III tomb in Giza from anywhere in the world, thanks to the Egyptian Tourist Board and 3D modelling by Harvard University. Other virtual trips of historic Egyptian sites available to explore include the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the late 14th-century medieval Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq, and the Coptic Orthodox Red Monastery.
The Tate 'holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day' as well as international modern and contemporary art. Even though their doors are closed you can still delve into their vast collection by exploring artworks and artists online. Other resources include podcasts and playlists, an 'art terms' glossary, and 'how to' guides including how to paint like Kandinsky.
Figures in the Sky
We all look up to the same sky during dark nights and, though the stars don't change, we see different shapes based on stories from the past. Figures in the Sky is a beautifully detailed website that explains how current and past cultures across the globe have seen their myths and legends in the stars. Compare 28 different 'sky cultures' to see differences and similarities – ranging from the western constellations, to Chinese, Maori and even a few shapes from historical cultures such as the Aztecs.
The Rev'd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons says: 'The material culture of religion is found in buildings, artworks, images, music and artefacts connected to the cult, but for many centuries one of the most valuable resources was the written culture found in manuscripts. The vHMML collection brings together a vast amount of religious texts, illustrations and rare compositions in the manuscripts written and painted to serve the different communities. As this library states in its introduction; the "site houses high-resolution images of manuscripts, many of them digitized as part of HMML’s global mission to preserve and share important, endangered, and inaccessible manuscript collections." For those who enjoy the material culture, the world of text and image this is a site that is invaluable. I use it and have enjoyed examining ancient texts in their original setting!' Dr Robin Gibbons is Director of Studies in Theology and Religious Studies at the Department.
The University of Oxford possesses extraordinary library and museum collections that document the history of the world. The Cabinet project aims to make these resources more accessible, bringing them into a single intuitive and interactive interface where new connections can be made. Explore 2D and 3D images, and full-colour 3D models of objects ranging from minute artefacts a few centimetres across to entire monuments from the Oxford landscape.
David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef
Join Sir David Attenborough on an interactive journey around Australia's Great Barrier Reef and discover the marine life that call it home. Comprised of an interactive map, video footage and fascinating information, this website will bring you up to speed with one of the most biodiverse and complex ecosystems on the planet.
The History of English
Sandie Byrne, Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing, recommends The History of English, a fascinating resource to find out how the English language went from an obscure Germanic dialect to a global language. The website features sections on language issues (how new words are created, language and geography), a timeline showing it's chronological development, and comprehensive sources and links.
Biodiversity Heritage Library
The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL is revolutionising global research by providing free, worldwide access to knowledge about life on Earth. There are 57 collections to explore, including Monsters are Real, Objects of Wonder, Women in Natural History and many more.
School of Mathematics and Statistics
Marcus du Sautoy recommends the School of Mathematics and Statistics at St Andrew's University as it 'has one of the best online resources to learn about the history of mathematics.' The website includes biographies of more than 2,600 different mathematicians, time lines from the Greeks to the 20th century, and a 'Mathematicians of the Day'. Marcus du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.
Yasmin Khan, Departmental Lecturer in British History, recommends History Workshop. This digital platform publishes 'accessible and engaging articles that deepen understanding of the past for historians and the public, and which reflect upon present day issues and agitate for change in the world we live in now.'
Director of Studies in Music Jonathan Darnborough highlights two classical music resources for you to enjoy: ‘BBC Radio 3 has a huge archive of programmes covering composers from Adolphe Adam and John Adams to Jan Zelenka and Alexander Zemlinsky – with a good many much more familiar names in between. A good place to start exploring this rich resource is the Discovering Music series home page. Also, here is an extraordinary animated realisation of the first Prelude and Fugue from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. The music is beautifully performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard in a stunningly imaginative film by Alan Warburton.’
Art history might seem like a relatively straightforward concept: 'art' and 'history' are subjects most of us first studied in elementary school. In practice, however, the idea of 'the history of art' raises complex questions. What exactly do we mean by art, and what kind of history (or histories) should we explore? Smarthistory’s mission is to open museums and cultural sites, creating world-class resources on art and cultural objects for learners from around the globe — for free.
The British Library
The British Library has a unique collection of items and expert commentary related especially to history, English and citizenship. Browse through videos, collection items from within the Library’s exhibits, as well as teaching resources and activities for schools, teachers and learners of all ages. Christine Jackson, Associate Professor of History, says, 'There are some fabulous materials here - enough to keep someone busy for a long time. In the history texts, I particularly like the 16th and 17th century texts in the "Timelines": Sources from history; World War 1 and the Middle Ages. In the English online resources, the Shakespeare and Renaissance writers' materials are brilliant.' Other highlights include the origins of the Magna Carta, literary treasures from the Romantic and Victorian eras and the oral history of women at the forefront of Britain’s Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s and 80s.
Historic England is the 'public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular historic environment'. Discover your town's history, take a virtual walking tour, research your home's past, or explore some of England's historic places including shipwrecks, monuments, battlefields, gardens and more. Recommended by Elizabeth Gemmill, Associate Professor in History.
The Bodleian Library's digitized collections – Digital.Bodleian – are open to users from around the world for learning, teaching, personal enjoyment and research. There are more than 650,000 freely available digital objects on offer, including children's games of the 18th and 19th Century, Corbett's Parliamentary History, John Gould's ornithological works, political cartoons and campaign posters, woodcut prints, ancient manuscripts, and much more. The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library.
The CORE Project
Martin Ruhs, Associate Professor of Political Economy and Director of Studies in Economics, recommends The CORE Project: an open-access platform for anyone who wants to understand the economics of innovation, inequality, environmental sustainability, and more. Martin explains: 'CORE is a great project that introduces and explains economic ideas and concepts to students in a critical way. Just like our Department’s Political Economy portfolio of courses, CORE aims to link economics to other social sciences. It draws on a range of theories and empirical analyses across the social sciences to analyse real-world policy issues.'
The Europeana website is an incredibly rich resource, drawing from thousands of European archives, libraries and museums to share cultural heritage for enjoyment, education and research. Europeana’s collections provide access to over 50 million digitised items – books, music, artworks and more – with sophisticated search and filter tools to help you find what you’re looking for. Explore thematic collections on art, fashion, music, photography and more.
Small Blessings: Amulets at the Pitt Rivers Museum
Explore the collection of curious objects from French prehistorian Adrien de Mortillet's amulet collection and the intriguing stories behind them, on the Pitt Rivers Museum’s ‘Small Blessings’ website. What is an amulet? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s anything worn about the person as a charm or preventative against evil, mischief, disease, witchcraft, etc. Often completely unique and personal, utilising auspicious materials and symbolism, amulets were — and continue to be — made for various purposes. They are used to avert evil, misfortune and disease; to bring good luck in harvests, journeys and war. Their creators believed amulets had the power to alter or affect the world around them. In this sense, amulets help us understand the human need for well-being, and universal concepts of hope and belief.
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is ‘an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights’. Shreya Atrey, Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law, recommends we all stop and pause to consider the human rights issues related to Covid-19 around the world. Read open letters, news releases, commentary and more.
A Vision of Britain
Sylvia Pinches, Course Director for the Advanced Diploma in Local History, regularly recommends A Vision of Britain to her students. This online local history library contains maps, statistics, and travel writing and allows you to search by location to access all content for one place. 'As our course is taught entirely online, we use a wide array of resources to support the modules - this particular site is very visually appealing and the sort of thing one can get totally immersed in.'
Oxford Sparks is a place to explore and discover science research from across the University of Oxford. The site regularly posts videos and podcasts showcasing cutting edge research, and also has resources for teachers to help enrich lessons. Find out about topics as diverse as machine learning, how robots might learn social cues, about life-changing dementia treatments and how studying tiny organisms can shed light on much bigger animals and plants.
Information is Beautiful
Data visualisation is both an art and a science. David McCandless, author, data journalist and information designer, sees it as a way to tell new kinds of stories, and to convey complex ideas into graphical forms that anyone can understand. His website, ‘Information is Beautiful’, lets you explore dozens of datasets: from the meanings associated with colours across different cultures, to rhetological fallacies, to the best dog breeds. McCandless's TED Talk from 2010 serves as an introduction. Recommended by Dr Sepi Chakaveh, Senior Associate Tutor in Data Science.