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Introducing Humanism: Non-religious Approaches to Life, with Sandi Toksvig

Humanists UK via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


Learn about how humanists approach life’s big questions

Humanism is a non-religious, ethical world view shared by millions of people around the world. Humanists believe that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.

However, there is widespread misunderstanding about what it means to be a humanist or to live a life without a religion. On this course you will learn more about humanist beliefs and values, and discover how humanists attempt to answer life’s big questions.

Recommended for learners age 16+

This course is suitable for anyone looking to develop their understanding of humanism. It will particularly appeal to those with a passion for exploring life’s big questions. It will also be of value to teachers and other educators wanting to develop their subject knowledge about non-religious beliefs, and to sixth-form students looking to prepare themselves for a degree in the humanities.

If you are interested in human stories, you might also be interested in our other online course Humanist Lives, in which you’ll have the opportunity to meet humanists from around the world and learn about what it means to be a humanist in the 21st century.


  • Humanism and the human being
    • Introduction to the course
    • The human being
    • Human capabilities and responsbilities
    • Summary
  • Understanding reality
    • Introduction to Week 2
    • Scepticism and reason
    • Science
    • Consequences and conclusions
    • Summary
  • Making life meaningful
    • Introduction
    • Mortality
    • Making life meaningful
    • The good life
    • Summary
  • Being good
    • Introduction
    • What makes morality possible?
    • Challenges
    • A humanist view
    • Humanist ethics in practice
    • Being good to ourselves and others
    • Summary
  • Humanism in practice: a better world?
    • Introduction
    • Equality
    • Secularism, education, and dialogue
    • Freedoms
    • Action
    • Summary
  • What is humanism?
    • Introduction
    • Definitions and diversity
    • Humanism: then and now
    • What kind of thing is Humanism?
    • Summary

Taught by

Luke Donnellan


3.5 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 112 ratings

Start your review of Introducing Humanism: Non-religious Approaches to Life, with Sandi Toksvig

  • The course focuses on modern humanism as a philosophical approach to life and ethics which does not rely on religious belief, rather than looking at the history of humanism. The mixture of articles and lectures from different sources led to repetition. I found the amount of time needed to watch/read the various modules was out of proportion to the amount learnt. Halfway into the second week, I bought myself a book on humanism (by one of the authors cited in the course) and found it more interesting, and more informative, than the course. For me, a six-week course is far too long to spend "studying" the issues involved in humanism.

    There was no input from the course educators, which didn't help.
  • Anonymous
    A broadly-based approach to a big subject!

    Lots of contributors (including the Chief Executive Officer of Humanists UK, Andrew Copson) and a mixture of short "essay" type contributions and short video sequences. Each week's work is introduced by Sandi Toksvig whose cheerful and sensible approach must have put many a newcomer to godlessness at their ease.

    Each week course students are invited to submit comments, also to comment on those comments: very healthy.

    I find it hard to fault this material, but then am a humanist from about 50 years ago.

    John Ricketts

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