Robert Burns Online

Duration: 10 weeks

Start Date: September

Credits: 20 (via optional assessment)

Contact: Dr Ronnie Young

Revered the world over, the prolific Scottish poet Robert Burns has been a source of interest to generations of readers and has achieved a literary celebrity and 'afterlife' that few authors have rivalled. This online course offers a multi-disciplinary look at the life, work, and legacy of the 'Ayshire Bard'. It aims to instruct students in key themes and areas for understanding the poet, including religion, politics, biography, and material culture. It also introduces students to key poems, songs, letters and prose writings by Burns, including:

  • 'Holy Willie's Prayer'
  • 'The Cottar's Saturday Night'
  • 'A Man's a Man'
  • 'The Vision'
  • 'Address of Beelzebub'
  • 'Charlie he's my Darling'
  • 'O once I lov'd a bonnie lass'
  • 'To Mary in Heaven'
  • Burns's Correspondence
  • Burns's Tour Journals

Bursary places are available on this course. See ‘Fees and Funding' below for further details. 

Closing date for applications for this session is Monday 29th August 2022


Why Glasgow?

  • This course has been developed by researchers at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies, who are widely considered to be the world-leaders in this area.
  • Established in July 2007, the Centre is at the forefront of the development of research, scholarship and teaching in the area of Robert Burns, his cultural period and related literature.
  • Students taking the course will benefit from their knowledge, support and expertise.
  • You will be taught by the key staff involved in the Centre’s research and activities which include the production of a new multi-volume edition of the complete works of Burns.
  • You will also have remote access to the University’s wide resources via its world-leading research library.


Completion of the course carries with it 20 Undergraduate credit points for those who wish to undertake the formal assessments. There is also the option to undertake the course without certification.


10 Weeks, starting September

Developed and taught by the Centre for Robert Burns Studies, the world's foremost research grouping on Scotland's national poet, this course will be taught over 10 weeks via 8 weeks of online instruction, plus a mid-term break, followed by a week for guided preparation of your final project.

Course Information

The directed online instruction will cover the following topics:

  • Burns and Religion
  • Burns and Politics
  • The Making of the Bard
  • Burns's Scottish Tours
  • Burns as Songwriter
  • Burns and Bawdry
  • Burns and his Biographers
  • The 'Afterlife' of the Poet

This course is suitable for learners from a wide variety of backgrounds, and is aimed to appeal to anyone with an interest in Burns or in Scottish poetry or culture in general. It is pitched towards Glasgow's 'level 1' - in other words, those new to University study or entering Glasgow University for the first time. It is suitable for learners from all disciplinary backgrounds, who may either choose to undertake assessments, and thus qualify for 20 undergraduate credit points, or who may just wish to engage with the learning programme for their own enjoyment. Graduates are equally welcome.

You will be supported in your learning by staff from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies, who will be on hand to answer enquiries and to advise students on learning and assessment.

Delivery and Assessment

Each learning block will be taught through a range of online reading, discussions, exercises, and activities. Each week students will be introduced to a range of online materials, including video,

articles, artefacts, and documents, as well as Burns's poems, songs, prose and correspondence. You will have the opportunity to examine archive material, original publications and manuscripts by Burns himself, recordings of Burns's songs and examples of objects used to commemorate the poet.

In addition, students will be able to access digitised materials, articles, and books via the University of Glasgow's library and to take advantage of the additional online resources to which the library subscribes.

The formal assessment for this course is optional and consists of the following:

  • A written assignment (500 words)
    • A blog-entry exercise (500 words)
    • A final essay (1,500 words) submitted at the end of the course

Support, guidance and feedback will be available for all assessment.

For more details about assessment and certification, contact us at

Fees and Funding

£321 (this covers access to all resources and administrative costs).


A range of full and part-funded bursary places are available via separate application directly to us. To be considered for a bursary, email your interest to, by 31 August, stating in 300 words or less why they would like to be considered for the bursary.
The successful applicant should

  • Demonstrate an eagerness to learn more about Robert Burns
  • Show how they might benefit from the bursary
  • Show a willingness and availability to study online for the duration of the course
  • Be prepared to complete the course in full
  • Not be a current student at the University of Glasgow (former students welcome)
  • Have access to a PC or Mac that meets the minimum specifications for online study at Glasgow

Successful applications will be announced at least one week before the course starts. Applicants should still register for the course by following the instructions under ‘How to Apply’ below.

How to Apply

We are now accepting applications for Robert Burns Online. You can sign up for the course at the following link:


Computer Requirements

Please click on the link below to download details of the minimum requirements for the online course.

Burns Online Computer Requirements