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That’s cracking - University launches first MOOC

Press release issued: 7 November 2014

The University of Bristol’s first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), Cracking Mechanics - Further Maths for Engineers, will be launched next week [Monday 10 November]. The free six week course is aimed at anyone, particularly sixth formers, who is interested in a career in engineering, maths or physical science.

The course, led by Dr Laura Dickinson from the Faculty of Engineering, has been designed to complement A-levels and International Baccalaureates and is part of the highly successful FutureLearn partnership.  Students will have the opportunity to find out how engineers use both maths and physics to solve real-world problems.

Cracking Mechanics is perfect for students who want to practice existing skills or to extend their knowledge and understanding. It will also give students the opportunity to become independent learners and enrich not only their subject-specific knowledge, but also their wider experience and skills and prepare them for university study.

Dr Laura Dickinson, Teaching Fellow in the Department of Civil Engineering, said: “Cracking Mechanics will enable students to learn maths skills, such as calculus - solving differential equations; trigonometry - resolving forces and geometry - calculating where things are. Students will learn laws of physics like Newton’s laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics.

“There will also be the opportunity to see how these tools and principles allow engineers to design everyday things, such as planes, cars, skyscrapers, bridges, dams, robots, water treatment systems and wind turbines.

“The aim of the course is to ‘have a go, get it wrong, and learn some new skills and knowledge’, it is certainly not to complete every single task perfectly.”

Each week is split into bite-sized chunks, taking less than 30 minutes per day, with different themes every week, such as forces, motion or energy.  Learners will be able to watch videos, read articles, answer questions, do tests and quizzes, and discuss problems with other learners and help them with their problems too. Assessment is optional. Learners can do as much or as little as they like. Studying Maths to A-level, or International Baccalaureate Standard Level, is useful but not essential; Further or Higher-Level Maths is not required.

To register or find out more about the course go to Cracking Mechanics or email

For further information on use of FutureLearn MOOCs within Schools and Colleges, go to

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