List of Free Online Poetry Courses, Workshops and Classes

See our list of the top free online poetry courses, workshops and classes. Learn about what courses are available, what topics they cover and whether you can use them to get college credit.

Online Poetry Courses for Credit

Free courses in poetry that don't require students to register or pay tuition are plentiful online. These courses won't result in college credit, though. Students who would rather earn credit for the courses they take might consider online resources that charge a nominal fee in exchange for access to courses. These fee-based courses can prepare students to earn college credit. offers a fee-based distance learning program that features engaging and short video lessons and self-assessment quizzes. Both of these training options help students began to earn college credit.

Students who want to explore poetry can take English 101: English Literature, which offers some courses in poetry along with courses on major English literary periods and works. Some chapters from this course include:

  • Literary Terms and Analysis - Get an overview of major literary movements and learn about literary theory, poetry terms and test-taking strategies.
  • The Renaissance in English Literature - Topics include Shakespeare's works and plays by Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson.
  • Romantic Poetry in English Literature - Get details on major works by such poets as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, John Keats, William Blake and William Wordsworth.
  • Victorian Literature - Topics covered in this chapter include Robert Browning's poems and his poetic monologue, Alfred Lord Tennyson's poetic works and Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems.
  • Turn-Of-The-Century Literature - Study Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Joseph Conrad in addition to poems by W.B. Yeats.

Free Online Non-Credited Poetry Courses

These free online poetry courses don't require registration or tuition, but they also do not offer college credit. Students will need such software as media players or Adobe Reader to access some materials. Additionally, not all course components are available to online students. These include workshop activities and opportunities to receive feedback from instructors and peers.

Open University

  • Approaching Poetry is designed to familiarize students with all forms of poetry. By reading lessons and completing the activities, students can master concepts including rhythm, alliteration and rhyme. They can also explore techniques for comparing poems. A glossary of terms is included as well.
  • What is Poetry? explores techniques for composing poems. Rhyme, rhythm, voice and form are also examined. After reviewing the activities and discussion questions, students can examine sample answers.

Yale University

  • Milton looks at the works of John Milton, examining his sources, the society in which he lived and his influence on poetry. Video lectures are available for download along with accompanying PDF handouts. Students will need access to an anthology of Milton's poetry and prose to complete reading assignments.
  • Modern Poetry explores the works of Ezra Pound, Robert Frost and other 20th and 21st century poets. Literary criticism is also discussed. Students have access to PDF handouts and some reading materials, though an anthology of modern poetry is listed among the required texts.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Prizewinners discusses the works of Nobel Prize-winning authors Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. Students can also access quizzes and essays as well as supplemental reading materials and audio recordings.
  • Reading and Writing Poems asks students to compose responses to contemporary poems before using them as models for their own work. Links to poet biographies and audio recordings of their works are included in the course materials.
  • Reading Poetry teaches students how to read and talk about poetry. It can also help them hone their skills as academic writers. Class assignments include memorizing lines of poetry and responding to essay prompts. Students can also download many of the reading assignments. Examples of students' work are published on the website as well.
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