Free online Higgs boson course is launched

The seven-week course, entitled The Discovery of the Higgs Boson, describes the scientific advancements that led to the theoretical prediction in 1964, the building of the Large Hadron Collider and the detection of the boson. It will also highlight the cross-fertilisation between theory and experiment in particle physics during the past, and explore some of the implications for the future.

The course, which is organised by the School's Luigi Del Debbio and Christos Leonidopoulos, will feature interviews with Prof. Higgs and filmed lectures by a team of world-class physicists at the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics. Students can then debate what they have seen by using dedicated online discussion spaces, as well as via social media.

"I am very pleased that Peter’s incredible work will now be available to a worldwide audience of learners to analyse and discuss. Peter’s research has provided us with profound insight into the building blocks of the Universe and this course will allow anyone with a computer and access to the web to take part in the exciting and revolutionary times that we live in." Prof. Arthur Trew, Head of School for Physics & Astronomy

“There is tremendous interest among the general public in Higgs and his boson. The Higgs MOOC gives us at the Higgs Centre the opportunity to reach a wide international audience, and hopefully convey the beauty of the theoretical ideas, the excitement of the discovery, and the possible implications for our understanding of the Universe.” Prof. Richard Ball, Director of the Higgs Centre

The University of Edinburgh is offering the course as its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) via the FutureLearn platform, a partnership of 23 leading universities, along with the British Museum, British Council and British Library, which offers learners the opportunity to access high-quality courses for free.

The Higgs boson

Prof. Higgs developed his theory of the particle that bears his name when he was a researcher at Edinburgh in the early 1960s. Since then, the Higgs boson has formed a crucial strand of particle physics theory. 

In July 2012, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), including many from Edinburgh, announced results which indicated the existence of the Higgs boson. In March 2013, CERN said that analysis of more data confirmed even more strongly that the new particle is indeed the Higgs boson.

Online learning at Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh has led the way in online learning and was the first university in the UK to offer MOOCs via the Coursera platform, which brings together universities from around the world to offer free Higher Education-standard courses across a diverse range of subject areas.

During the first round of Edinburgh’s courses, more than 300,000 people signed up to study from a selection of six MOOCs.
By joining the FutureLearn network, Edinburgh will be able to offer MOOCs to an even greater number of learners around the world.

Edinburgh will be offering a selection of new and existing MOOCs in late 2013 and throughout 2014, via the Coursera and FutureLearn platforms.

The Higgs MOOC offers a hugely exciting opportunity for learners to experience university-standard courses, at no cost to themselves. Over the next 12 months, we will be announcing details of more than a dozen MOOCs, across a range of subjects, reinforcing Edinburgh’s position as a world-leader in online learning. Prof. Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh

Quality assured

Edinburgh’s MOOCs have been developed by senior academic staff and their content is checked using the same quality assurance methods as for our other courses. The courses do not offer a credit towards entrance to the University of Edinburgh, but are taught to the same standards as our other online courses.

Online learning at Edinburgh

MOOCs complement the University’s substantial offering of high-quality online postgraduate programmes. We offer Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters qualifications across a broad range of subject areas. These involve the same level of work overall as our on-campus programmes, and the qualification awarded is of equal value.

Our online learning courses also offer flexible exit routes, allowing you to shape your academic journey to suit your needs.