We run a number of non-credit bearing courses on aspects of ancient Egyptian history and culture.
Our courses are open to students worldwide, as all course material is delivered over the internet.
You will learn from Egyptologists Dr Joyce Tyldesley and Dr Nicky Nielsen, studying through a combination of written learning modules, independent (online) research, group discussions, quizzes and recorded lectures.
Each course includes an introductory unit useful to those new to the study of ancient Egypt, as well as an introduction to the online learning environment, and help with study skills.
This preliminary information is made available to registered students two weeks before the formal course starts.
We run the following courses twice a year, starting on 15 October (register by 30 September) and 15 May (register by 30 April).
Five thousand years ago the land of the papyrus and the land of the lotus united to form one long, thin country ruled by one semi-divine king. For the next three thousand years Egypt would maintain a culture so distinctive that even today, some two thousand years after the last pharaoh occupied throne of the Two Lands, it has instant, universal recognition.
That this ancient culture holds a powerful fascination for western observers is undeniable. Why this should be so is less obvious. Why are the Egyptian galleries of our museums packed with visitors, while neighbouring galleries remain empty? Why do television programmes about Egypt attract huge audiences, while programmes about other, equally ancient cultures do not? There is no simple answer to these questions, and many Egyptophiles cannot themselves explain the attraction that they feel so strongly.
Our obsession with ancient Egypt has inspired many to search for treasure in Egypt’s sands. All of these can be loosely classified as “Egyptologists” but their methods and motives have varied widely. Some are archaeologists who travel to Egypt to excavate under the hot sun. Some are linguists who work in dark libraries barely seeing the light of day. Increasingly, many are scientists who view ancient Egypt through a microscope lens. A few have worked openly and unashamedly for financial reward, cashing in on the western willingness to pay for artefacts and information. Together their work combines to become the story of the discovery of ancient Egypt: the story of this short course.
- Week 1 - A Re-discovered Land
- Week 2 - Decoding the Stones
- Week 3 - Knowledge-Seekers and Tourists
- Week 4 - Protecting the Monuments
- Week 5 - The Valley of the Kings
- Week 6 - Egyptology Today
Ancient Egypt supplies some startling statistics: 3,000 years of dynastic rule by at least 300 heroic kings who recognised at least 1,500 deities. This immense time span saw the development of complex and frequently contradictory mythology peopled by a vast and ever-increasing pantheon whose members changed name, appearance and character with startling regularity, frequently splitting into different components or fusing to form a deity more powerful than the sum of his or her parts. Their stories, the science and history of their age, entertain while providing explanations for the mysteries of creation, existence and death that challenge every community. In so doing they provide a glimpse into the thoughts and fears of the ancient mind.
This short course uses a combination of dynastic and Classical art, archaeology, literature and mythology to explore the nature of some of Egypt's better-known gods and goddesses.
- Week 1 - Atum and the Creation of the World
- Week 2 - The Sun God Re
- Week 3 - Hathor, the Golden One
- Week 4 - Osiris: King of the Dead
- Week 5 - Horus and Seth
- Week 6 - Isis
For over 3,000 years Egypt’s queens provided the essential female element that would allow the kingship to function correctly. The queen of Egypt was, first and foremost, a supportive wife and mother. But hers was not a passive role. In times of dynastic crisis, the queen was expected to act as her husband’s deputy. She might be required to marshal troops, or to rule on behalf of an infant son. She might even be called upon to rule in her own right in the absence of a more suitable king.
Taking a chronological approach, with an emphasis on the queens of the New Kingdom, Queens of Ancient Egypt uses a combination of archaeological and textual evidence to explore the developing role of the Egyptian queen consort from Predynastic times until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC. It is a fascinating story of political power, divinity and death.
Can it ever be valid to tell a 'woman’s history', focussing on just one aspect of a mechanism as complicated as the Egyptian royal family? Take this short course, and find out.
- Week 1 - The Royal Women of Ancient Egypt
- Week 2 - Pyramid Queens: Queens of the Old and Middle Kingdoms
- Week 3 - Fighting Queens: Queens of the 17th and Earlier 18th Dynasty
- Week 4 - Sun Queens: the Royal Women of Amarna
- Week 5 - Queens and God's Wives
- Week 6 - Ptolemaic Queens
The Ancient Egyptian civilisation flourished in the Nile Valley for more than 3,000 years.
Much of our understanding of this great culture comes from its writings; from the monumental inscriptions that the Egyptians dedicated to their gods, their kings and their ancestors, and from the literary and moralistic tales that they left their descendants.
This script, dubbed hieroglyphikos – Sacred Engravings – by the ancient Greeks, was known to the Egyptians as medu-netjer, Speech of the Gods.
After the fall of Pharaonic Egypt, the knowledge of how to read hieroglyphs was lost for more than 1,400 years until the script was deciphered by the French scholar Jean Francois Champollion in 1822.
This short course will enable students to read basic formulaic inscriptions which they might encounter in a museum setting (such as the Offering Formula).
As the course is at a beginner's level, it assumes no prior knowledge of hieroglyphs or any other ancient script or language on the part of the students.
- Week 1 - Divine Speech
- Week 2 - From Horapollo to Champollion
- Week 3 - The Structure of the Script
- Week 4 - Phonetic Complements, Prepositions and Divine Names
- Week 5 - Titles, Epithets and Nouns
- Week 6 - The Offering Formula
This course builds on the lessons drawn from Beginners Middle Egyptian and therefore presumes an intermediate level of knowledge on the part of the participants.
The aim of this short course is to enable students to read basic sentences from Middle Egyptian literary texts which have, in some cases, been simplified by the course tutor for ease of reading.
- Week 1 - The Past Tense
- Week 2 - The Present Tense
- Week 3 - The Infinitive
- Week 4 - Adjectives and Numbering
- Week 5 - Negation and Independent Pronouns
- Week 6 - The Royal Names
This course will function as a direct continuation of Intermediate Middle Egyptian and presumes that the students have at least this skill level.
The aim of this short course is to prepare students to read longer portions of Middle Egyptian literary texts.
- Week 1 - The Appeal to the Living
- Week 2 - Nominal Sentences
- Week 3 - The Future sDm=f
- Week 4 - Relative Forms
- Week 5 - Participles
- Week 6 - Military Biographies
On 4 November 1922, Howard Carter discovered a flight of steps leading down to the long-lost tomb of the little-known 18th Dynasty king, Tutankhamen. The tomb was virtually intact and Tutankhamen's mummified body still lay inside, surrounded by grave goods.
This was by no means the first royal mummy to be discovered, nor the most important, yet Tutankhamen quickly became a celebrity and Egyptology acquired a popular appeal that was reflected beyond the academic world in fashion, architecture and fiction. Meanwhile, in Egypt, an increasingly independent country struggling to enter the modern world, the discovery raised questions about colonialism and the ownership of Egypt's past.
Almost a century after the great discovery, Tutankhamen is undoubtedly ancient Egypt's most famous king. But what do we actually know about Tutankhamen, king of Egypt, his family and his relatively brief reign? This short course explores the life and times of Tutankhamen, drawing upon a combination of archaeological, textual and biomedical evidence to reconstruct a still-developing story.
- Week 1 - Tutankhamen in Context: the Late 18th Dynasty
- Week 2 - The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb
- Week 3 - Tutankhamen's Grave Goods
- Week 4 - Finding a Family for Tutankhamen
- Week 5 - The Life and Death of an Egyptian King
- Week 6 - Egyptian Curses: Ancient and Modern
Teaching and learning
Each course consists of six learning modules, released weekly for six weeks.
Although these six learning modules are released on a weekly basis, they do not have to be completed within that week, as the course remains open for four weeks after the release of the last module to allow time for late completion and further discussion.
Students who complete all six specified activities and contribute regularly to the course discussion boards will receive a Certificate of Completion.
Each learning module is estimated to take between four and six hours to complete (between 24 and 36 hours for the whole short course).
Fees and how to apply
The fee is £270 per short course.
You can pay either online with a debit or credit card through the University e-store, or by personal or building society cheque (UK students only). Contact email@example.com for more information about paying by cheque.
Places on the courses are limited, so you are advised to complete the registration form as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Before applying, please refer to the University's Privacy Notice for prospective students, applicants and offer-holders so that you are aware of how your data will be processed.
Please ensure you meet our computer requirements and that you read the terms and conditions before completing the registration form.
Our courses are delivered completely online using the Blackboard learning environment. You will, therefore, need a computer with an internet connection to access the course.
Access to a scanner, digital camera or an all-in-one printer is also recommended for the hieroglyphic element of the course.
Accessing the course on a mobile device
Our students can expect to have access to lecture materials, video lectures, discussion boards, quizzes and submission areas via web browsers on mobile devices (such as tablets and smartphones), assuming they have access to a good mobile or Wi-Fi signal.
If you are planning to use a tablet as your primary device, you must ensure that it has a reasonably good specification for accessing the internet and viewing videos. Your tablet should have word processing software.
While access is available via smartphones, we advise that students do not use a smartphone as their only device, as the screen size will cause difficulties in some aspects of the course, such as essay writing, and may make some areas of the course difficult to read.