This list complements the article 'Enhancing Junior Leader Education through Distributed Short Courses' by Nicholas Waugh and John Shipp, published by our partners at Grounded Curiosity.

In support of their developing idea of 'Australian Army Distributed Short Courses', Nick and John have collected together a series of existing, open-source courses that can help you in developing mastery of the profession of arms.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) began with one course developed in 2008 by Stephen Downes and George Siemens entitled Connectivism and Connectivity Knowledge. 25 students attended from the University of Minatoba and a further 2,300 participated from around the world. Since then, over 45 million students have enrolled in 4,200 online courses from 500 universities.

MOOCs are a great way to engage with the top universities without the price tag associated with formal academic courses. They are usually free to enrol and provide access to a massive range of course material historically reserved for paying customers. Most offer certificates upon completion (sometimes for a small fee) and credit towards other courses.

Sharp Covesters out there might spot that the MOOCs are listed along DG TRADOC's 'pillars of professional mastery' - the Australian Army's developing framework for the profession of arms. Read more here.

If you are looking to further your professional knowledge, consider the following recommendations:

NOTE: Course dates are almost always flexible. Missing the start date does not preclude you from accessing course materials.



INSTITUTION: University of California, San Diego.

DURATION: 4 weeks

COMMITMENT: 3 hours of video, 3 hours of exercises, 3 hours of bonus material.

HOW TO PASS: Pass all graded assignments to complete the course.

COST: Free access to all course materials ($64 for certificate).

About the course: Learn about how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (‘chunks’) information. Other topics include; illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination and best practices to help master tough subjects. No matter what your skill level, this course can help you improve the way you learn.





COMMITMENT: 3 hours per week.

HOW TO PASS: Certificate of completion available (no assessment).

COST: Free.

About the course: This course provides an opportunity to uncover both the mechanics and the memory of the 'Great War'. Focusing on the Western Front, the most important and bloody theatre of the war, the course examines how the allies integrated new training, techniques and technologies to end the stalemate of trench warfare and defeat the German invasion.

Well accomplished military historians have drawn upon the latest research to offer new insights and uncover old myths, helping you understand a conflict that, despite occurring over a century ago, still resonates loudly today.

Topics covered:

  • Overview of the First World War, including basic timelines of the war on the Western Front.
  • The strategies and experiences of the British, French and German armies from 1914-1918.
  • The concept of the 'Learning Curve': how the different Armies adapted to and attempted to employ new tactics and technologies to overcome the stalemate.
  • Reflection on how WW1 is remembered. How literature has shaped recollections and perceptions of the war.
  • Differing legacies arising from WW1.

INSTITUTION: Tel Aviv University.


COMMITMENT: 2-3 hours per week. 44 videos, 5 readings.

HOW TO PASS: Pass all graded assignments to pass the course.

COST: Free access to all course material ($64 for certificate).

About the course: This course discusses the emergence of the Modern Middle East from the fall of the Ottoman Empire to the present day. It discusses the Ottoman legacy in the region and the Western imperial impact on the creation of the Arab state system. The course discusses the rise and retreat of Arab nationalism, problems with internal cohesion of the Arab state, issues of religion and state, and the evolution of Islamist politics. The course also includes the evolution of the Arab/Isreali conflict and its impact on the region, and an in depth analysis of the 'Arab Spring'.




DURATION: 7 weeks.

COMMITMENT: 3 hours per week.

COST: Free online (Certificates available).

About the course: The course explores six topics:

  • Foundations in ethical theory.
  • Ethics within the military profession.
  • Going to war.
  • The conduct of war.
  • Military and society.
  • Ethics, technology and war.

Specific topics address the role of morality, illegal orders and whistleblowing, the competing duties of military commanders and the ethical challenges arising from new technologies such as unmanned, and autonomous weapons systems, non-lethal weapons and cyber-warfare. This course is a must for military professionals, civil policy makers, journalists, NGO personnel and anyone interested in the appropriate conduct of military affairs.

INSTITUTION: Yale University.

DURATION: 8 weeks.

COMMITMENT: 12-15 hours per week.

HOW TO PASS: Pass all graded assignments to complete the course.

COST: Free access to course materials ($64 for final grade and certificate).

About the course: This course explores the question 'Do governments deserve our allegiance and when should they be denied it' Starting with a survey of the major political theories of enlightenment: Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition, the course examines each in turn within a historical and present day context. In addition to exploring theoretical differences among the various theories and authors discussed, there is a strong focus on the practical implications of competing arguments. This includes debate surrounding a variety of completion problems such as economic inequality, affirmative action, the distribution of health care, the limits of state power in the regulation of speech and religion and the difficulty of addressing the emerging threat of global environmental decay.

INSTITUTION: Boston University.

DURATION: 8 weeks.

COMMITMENT: 3-4 hours per module.

LEVEL: Introductory - Students who pass this course are eligible to take a 6 week addendum course and receive credits as a non-matriculating student from Boston University. COST: Free (verified certificate option closed until new course start).

About the course: Topics include:

  • Ethical leadership principles and practices using the ethical leadership model.
  • Development of character, civility and community as ethical leadership practices.
  • Various theories and methods of ethical analysis in leadership practices.
  • Personal core values - Defining moments that ask leaders to choose between competing values and ideals in which we intensely believe.
  • An ethical toolkit for leaders.

INSTITUTION: University of Lausanne.

DURATION: 7 weeks.

COMMITMENT: 3-5 hours per week.

LEVEL: Beginner.

PRICE: Free access to course materials ($64 for final grade and certificate).

About the course: the course demonstrates how strong organisational contexts push good people towards unethical decisions and how individuals can protect themselves and their organisation against ethical blindness. The learning draws from various disciplines such as management, psychology, sociology, philosophy and literature to better understand unethical behaviour. The course also analyses prominent organisational scandals in recent decades.

INSTITUTION: Princeton University.

DURATION: 13 weeks.

COMMITMENT: 2-3 hours per week.

HOW TO PASS: Pass all graded assignments to complete the course.

COST: Free access to course materials ($64 for final grade and certificate).

About the course: The Paradoxes of War teaches us that war is a normal part of human existence and an important factor in determining who we are. The course outlines some basic military history and sociology as a means to highlight the more important social themes and issues relating to war. This includes a discussion of how expectations of masculinity are created and how nationalism leads to the 'us' vs 'them' mentality which in turn leads to the abuse of others.



INSTITUTION: University of Bath.

DURATION: 6 weeks.

COMMITMENT: 3 hours per week.

PRICE: Free (certificates available).

About the course: This course looks at the reasons behind the changing nature of warfare which includes using drones for surgical style attacks, hiring private military companies to replace conventional forces and using special forces to target individuals. As well as looking at the philosophical, ethical and cultural impact of technology in war, students will also examine how remote control warfare makes States more prone to waging war, how this recent trend influences the way security is policed, and how a mismatch of capability is created between opposing sides.

INSTITUTION: Stanford University.

DURATION: 8 weeks.

LEVEL: Beginner.

PRICE: Free access to course materials ($64 for final grade and certificate).

About the course: Game theory is the mathematical modelling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. Games includes the modelling of conflict amongst nations, political campaigns, competition amongst firms, and trading behaviour in markets. The course provides the basics in 'game trees', Bayanesian games (modelling things like auctions), repeated and stochastic games and more. Included are examples of classic games and some applications.