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  • Writer's pictureJena

Free Short Courses in International Affairs

Updated: Jul 24, 2022

Gaining the skills and experience you need for your dream job in international affairs can require a lot of unpaid internships and volunteering. Although we should all get paid for the work we do, entry level unpaid work is (unfortunately) common in this field and after you graduate, you might not have money to spend on further education.

This is where you can use free online courses to your advantage. These can be a great introduction to a topic you haven’t learnt much about or a way to get some in-depth knowledge about an area you’re keen to specialise in.

Here is a list of places who offer free courses in the field of international affairs.

Coursera is an online learning platform which has a range of courses, referred to as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), run by universities all over the world which you can audit for free. Of particular interest are Global Diplomacy: the United Nations in the World run by SOAS University of London and Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice from Universiteit Leiden.

Similar to Coursera, EdX is an online platform with a variety of online courses which can be audited for free. For those aiming to build their knowledge in specific areas, Stanford’s The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism or US-China Relations: Past, Present and Future from the National University of Singapore might be of interest.

United Nations
Many United Nations agencies and research institutes have a wide range of free courses but they’re often hard to find as they’re listed on individual UN websites. These courses are often self-paced so you can easily fit them into your schedule. As there are so many, I have only included a few departments but here is a more comprehensive list if you’d like to look further into free UN courses.

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) offers both beginner and specialised courses ranging from What is Conflict? to Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeping Operations: Restoring Governance of Natural Resources.

UN CC:Learn
One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn) provides climate focussed courses including Climate Change: From Learning to Action and Gender Equality and Human Rights in Climate Action and Renewable Energy

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) not only offers courses but also podcasts and videos to help you learn more about disarmament. I have completed the short courses in Regional Disarmament and Gender Perspectives on Disarmament which were both very in-depth and easy to understand.

Australian Civil-Military Centre
The Australian Civil-Military Centre currently offers a free course on Women, Peace and Security and another on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination in Emergencies: Towards a predictable Model.
I have completed the Women, Peace and Security course and found it to be a great introduction to the topic.

Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Previously only available to those already working in the disarmament field, the VCDPN offers an introductory, online course on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament now open to everyone.

This is not an exhaustive list but I hope it is a useful starting point for continued learning in the international affairs space without spending a lot of money.

If you would like academic or writing support, feel free to get in touch via email:
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