Curious Minds: Explore
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.
Google's Arts and Culture: Bauhaus and Le Corbusier
Claire O'Mahony, Associate Professor in the History of Art and Design, says: 'Google's Arts and Culture projects are a treasure trove of architecture, art and design virtual resources. If you are trying to think through what Modernism was, the Bauhaus project offers fascinating insights into the student creativity and the innovative teaching strategies at this famous design school in the interwar years and its impact across the world after its closure by the Nazis in 1933'. O'Mahony also recommends the Le Corbusier project as it 'is full of wonderful 360 degree views of this controversial architect's iconic buildings.'
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.
Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections
The Thomas J. Watson Library is the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s research library and their Digitization Initiative aims to expand access to the Museum's rare and unique research materials by developing a distinctive digital collection of these items. Explore a wide variety of resources, including auction catalogues from the 17th-20th centuries, Japanese illustrated books, and highlights from the Museum's Costume Institute.
Art UK is a cultural education charity that aims to 'enable global audiences to learn about the UK’s national art collection'. The website is 'the showcase for art in every UK public collection and is a collaboration between over 3,200 British institutions. The art you see on Art UK is for everyone – for enjoyment, learning and research. These artworks are in museums, universities, town halls, hospitals and other civic buildings across the country. As 80% of this art is not on public view, Art UK allows you to see art that you would not normally be able to visit...Our current major project is documenting and digitising the nation’s sculptures – both in collections and in public spaces. The first of many thousands of sculptures joined the site during February 2019.'
Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word
Journey beyond the Bible to discover the history, culture and traditions of Jewish people from all corners of the world through the ages with the British Library's Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word exhibition. For those who can't visit the exhibition, you can take a free virtual tour online. As stated on the exhibition website: 'Through rarely-seen treasures from as far back as the 10th century, this exhibition takes you from Europe and North Africa, through to the Middle East and China to explore the relationships between Jews and their neighbours in the communities that they lived in.'
Museo Frida Kahlo
Popularly known as the Casa Azul (the ‘Blue House’), the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City is dedicated to the life and works of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Explore a myriad of artworks, photographs, collections and exhibitions; learn more about Kahlo by downloading a biography; or take a virtual tour of the Blue House.
Panorama of the Thames Project
The Panorama of the Thames conservation project is creating a unique and enduring historical record of the banks of the River Thames. The website contains panoramic images and videos, accompanied by an extensive database to cover every feature along the 52 miles of riverbank. Funded mainly by individual contributions and community groups, the project shows the built and the natural environment along the river and includes a fully restored version of a rare publication which depicts the Thames riverside in 1829, at the end of the Georgian period.
British Library: Discovering Literature
Tara Stubbs, Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing, recommends the British Library's Discovering Literature online exhibitions. The collections bring to life the social, political and cultural context in which key works of literature were written. Enjoy digitised treasures from the British Library's collection, newly commissioned articles, short documentary films and teachers’ notes.
Carly Watson, Departmental Lecturer in Literature and Arts, recommends the Woolf Online project - a digital archive of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927). The site contains images and transcriptions of the holograph drafts along with the typescripts, proofs, and various early editions of the novel. Also included is a myriad of contextual materials, such as letters and diary entries, early reviews of the novel, photographs, and selected essays Woolf wrote during the two- year period during which she worked on To the Lighthouse.
Archaeology and architectural history research
For those interested in archaeology and architectural history, Archaeology Tutor and Research Associate Olaf Bayer recommends the following free research publications by Historic England and its precursor organisations English Heritage and the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments England.
This year marks the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and, in honour of this, the World Health Organisation have named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Nightingale is respected worldwide for her pioneering role in developing the nursing profession, her statistical work, and her evidence-based approach to healthcare. Discover more about her life and legacy by exploring the 200 Objects, People & Places exhibition online.
The William Blake Archive
Ben Grant, Departmental Lecturer in English Literature, recommends The William Blake Archive. Inspired by the Rossetti Archive (a previous Curious Minds resource), the Archive provides a huge wealth of resources related to the poet, engraver and artist. Discover illuminated books, illustrations, prints, manuscripts, paintings and drawings, along with scholarly materials and the Hell's Printing Press blog.
Archaeology Data Service
David Griffiths, Associate Professor in Archaeology, recommends the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). As stated on their website: 'The ADS is an accredited digital repository for heritage data that supports research, learning and teaching with freely available, high quality and dependable digital resources by preserving and disseminating digital date in the long term'. Explore the archive and library, discover research projects, or dive in to ARCHSEARCH - an online catalogue indexing over 1.3 million metadata records, including ADS collections and metadata harvested from UK historic environment inventories.
The National Archives: Ancient Petitions
Elizabeth Gemmill, Associate Professor in History, recommends The National Archives' catalogue of Ancient Petitions. As the website states: 'The earliest petitions date to the reign of Henry III, and the latest example has been identified as belonging to the reign of James I...Most of the petitions came from individuals and communities within England, but a significant minority were from other lands, especially Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Aquitaine and other parts of France...The petitions generally fall into two categories: some ask for the redress of grievances which could not be resolved at common law; others are straightforward requests for a grant of favour...In most cases the petition was presented in the hope that it would mobilise royal grace.'
The Rev'd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons recommends The Empires of Faith (EoF) Blog from the Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions 2017/18 exhibition at the Ashmolean museum - a unique collaboration between Oxford University, the British Museum, and the Ashmolean. Dr Gibbons also highlights the free learning resources from the Ashmolean, specifically the PDFs and zoomable images under 'World Religions'.
Adrienne Rosen, Emerita Fellow of Kellogg College and former Departmental Lecturer in Local and Social History, recommends MAGIC - an online and interactive mapping tool covering Great Britain. As the website states, MAGIC provides: 'geographic information about the natural environment from across government. The information covers rural, urban, coastal and marine environments across Great Britain. It is presented in an interactive map which can be explored using various mapping tools that are included. Users do not require specialist software and can access maps using a standard web browser'. As well as the interactive map, users can also download datasets and static maps.
The Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (Mucem) in Marseille holds a fascinating interdisciplinary collection of objects: photographs, posters, prints, postcards and works. Immerse yourself in the vastness of the Mediterranean – from the Neolithic to contemporary art.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford, is dedicated to exploring the future of journalism worldwide through debate, engagement, and research. They place a high value on independent journalism, the power of news, and the importance of an informed public. Check out the videos and podcasts, explore research and articles, or watch past webinars.
Public Library of Science Journals
'Research should be freely available to everyone for the advancement of knowledge, discovery, reproducibility and usability’, says the Public Library of Science (PLOS). In 2003 they launched their first fully Open Access journal 'in order to empower researchers to make science immediately and publicly available online, without restrictions'. The Library now offers peer-reviewed articles from more than 200 disciplines in the form of seven journals.
With more than 500,000 coins, the Münzkabinett Berlin has one of the most significant and comprehensive numismatic collections in the world. With so many coins, you can imagine how hard it is for numismatists to order them and make sense of them! The aim of this website is to offer playful ways to explore these coins – aka historical artefacts – which are normally locked away in a vault or behind glass.
JSTOR / Artstor
Tara Stubbs, Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing, recommends the free, open access material available on JSTOR. Originally created as a platform to share back issues of academic journals, this digital library has grown to include books and millions of primary sources - supporting research and teaching in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Explore open access journals, research reports and books, or delve in to the public collections on sister site Artstor - which contains 1.3 million freely accessible images, videos, documents, and audio files from museums, archives, libraries, and faculty collections.
An Atlas of the Universe
Professor Bob Lambourne, Departmental Lecturer in Physical Sciences, recommends An Atlas of the Universe. Created by Richard Powell who, in his own words, developed the site as he 'wanted to see for myself what the universe looked like, and I thought maybe some other people out there might also be interested'. The site provides an overview of the astronomical universe through a sequence of maps on increasing size scales, from the nearby stars, to the edge of the observable universe. The website also provides a glossary of relevant technical terms.
Writers & Artists: Advice
Creative Writing Tutor Frank Egerton recommends Writers & Artists, the insider guide to the media. Frank says: 'This site is the online home of the invaluable Writers & Artists Yearbook (now published by Bloomsbury). The site contains a wealth of excellent advice on writing, getting published, self-publishing and marketing'. Explore articles written by bestselling authors and illustrators, leading literary agents and industry experts.
Pitt Rivers Museum
Oxford University’s Pitt Rivers Museum houses one of the most fascinating and diverse collections of archaeological and anthropological treasures in Britain. The collection is more than 500,000 items strong and the museum's website reflects this with a myriad of resources and educational materials. Delve into some of the collections highlights; look back at past exhibitions; explore research projects and conservation case studies; or take a virtual tour.
Discovering Literature: 20th century
Explore key works of 20th-century literature with the British Library. Delve in and explore the ways in which authors experimented with new forms and themes to capture the fast-changing world around them. Browse more than 300 treasures from the British Library collection and beyond.
Houses with hundreds of years of history also hide many special stories. Chasing Castles is a quest to explore Britain’s beautiful historic estates. Over the past two years a husband-and-wife team have visited castles, stately homes and gardens and collected almost 300 stories – including the discovery of the ‘real’ Romeo and Juliet and the oldest ghost in England.
Carly Watson, Departmental Lecturer in Literature and Arts, recommends the Rossetti Archive. The website contains the complete writings and pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and aims to 'include high-quality digital images of every surviving documentary state of DGR's works: all the manuscripts, proofs, and original editions, as well as the drawings, paintings, and designs of various kinds, including his collaborative photographic and craft works.'
Bible Odyssey and Bibledex
Tutor Ann Conway-Jones says: 'As Bible Odyssey describes itself: "Explore the fascinating origins of the Bible and its eventful history. On Bible Odyssey, the world’s leading scholars share the latest historical and literary research on key people, places, and passages of the Bible." There is a cornucopia of short articles with accompanying illustrations, along with videos and even an "Ask a Scholar" feature. Another website worth exploring is Bibledex, produced by Nottingham University. It provides a short video on every book of the Bible, each with contributions from a variety of scholars.' Ann teaches biblical studies, early Jewish-Christian relations, and early mystical theology at the Department.
Adrienne Rosen, Emerita Fellow of Kellogg College and former Departmental Lecturer in Local and Social History, recommends taking a look at the 'Learn' section on the English Heritage website. Delve into the history pages to discover more about English Heritage sites and how they have changed over time, learn about some of the different aspects of their gardens conservation work, and take a chronological journey through the key periods in England's past.
Boundless: Biology and Microbiology
Thomas Hesselberg, Director of Studies in Biological Sciences, recommends the Lumen Learning Boundless catalog and, in particular, the Biology and Microbiology educational resources. The catalog contains 'educational content originally curated by Boundless. In collaboration with the Boundless team, Lumen Learning imported these OER (open educational resources) courses to the Lumen Platform, to ensure they remain freely available to the education community after Boundless ceased operations'.
Google Arts & Culture: Royal Academy of Arts
London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) has been championing artists and architects for more than 250 years. You can now explore their collection and spaces from home thanks to a new collaborative project with Google Arts and Culture: 'Explore the fascinating architecture of the Royal Academy from home, including hidden delights such as the RA library designed by Jim Cadbury Brown in 1986 and the Life Drawing Room in the RA Schools. Listen to David Chipperfield discuss the major refurbishment that opened in 2018 and see how the building turned out.'
Talbot Catalogue Raisonné
William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) conceived of the art of photography in 1833, achieved his first images by 1834, and revealed the art to the public in 1839. By the time he ceased taking photographs in 1846, Talbot and his close associates had created more than 4,500 distinct images. Miraculously, much of this prodigious output still survives. Viewed as physical artifacts, many of Talbot’s photographs are objects of beauty, mystery and promise. Each photograph was made by hand on a sheet of paper, exposed to objects under sunlight or in improvised cameras. The Bodleian Library's Talbot Catalogue Raisonné project seeks to make this corpus of material freely available to scholars and to the general public.
This is the first free online copy of one of the most important historical records ever made, the Domesday Book. Take a tour of the original Domesday folios detailing the number of households, the economic resources, landowners and the valuation for almost every settlement in England in 1086 – along with an interactive map to take you to every place in Domesday that can still be located today.
Cornell University's Macaulay Library
Cornell University's Macaulay Library is a scientific archive of natural history audio, video, and photographs. The collection includes birds, amphibians, fishes, and mammals, and preserves recordings of each species’ behavior and natural history. Their mission is to 'facilitate the ability of others to collect and preserve such recordings and to actively promote the use of these recordings for diverse purposes spanning scientific research, education, conservation, and the arts'. Browse the collection using the search tools or upload your own contributions to the site.
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.
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
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.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Marianne Talbot, our Director of Studies in Philosophy, recommends an online encyclopedia 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.
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.'
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.
Adrienne Rosen, Emerita Fellow of Kellogg College and former Departmental Lecturer in Local and Social History, recommends the Geograph Britain and Ireland project. This public project, says Adrienne, 'aims to collect geographically representative photographs for every square kilometre of the UK and Republic of Ireland, with over 2 million images contributed so far. A wonderful resource for images of the British landscape'. Since 2005, 13,194 contributors have submitted 6,481,704 images.
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).
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!'
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 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 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.
Viking Ship 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.'
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.
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.'
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.
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.