Get on course

Fancy learning a new skill or taking up a hobby but don’t know where to start? Shelley O’Neill gives you the lowdown on dozens of courses and workshops


A vast range of courses from salsa and ballet to breakdancing and street dance are available at Dance Base along with various pay on the day classes. Book before 29 September for the autumn term. Classes run from beginner to advanced and professional level. A new term of 12 week courses begins this month and classes should be booked before 29 September. At Telford College, you can get qualifications ranging from NC up to degree level. Courses cover different styles including ballet, tap and jazz as well as dance history, anatomy and theory. Edinburgh Tango School runs free introductory class at 5.45pm on Sundays in the Counting House pub, West Nicholson Street. Thereafter, classes run at various venues across the city, with tuition for a year costing £48. Dance Base, Grassmarket, 0131 225 5525, Telford College, West Granton Road, 0131 559 4000, Edinburgh Tango, venues vary, 0131 477 7401,

Dance House offers evening and weekend classes in every style of dance from African to Burlesque and breakdancing. The new term starts this month with classes from £44--£88. Ashanti Dance Company runs salsa, belly and Bollywood classes, from £30 a term with drop in classes at £5 a session. And for those looking for qualifications, Anniesland College runs courses from NC up to HND level. Dance House, St Andrews Street, 0141 332 1490, Ashanti Dance Company, Great Western Road, 0794 915 5922, Anniesland College, Hatfield Drive, 0141 357 3969,

Portfolio Preparation
Whether you intend applying to art school or just fancy brushing up your technique, Telford College provides advice and support while giving you free reign to explore whatever interests you. Fees vary. Apply now for courses beginning in September. Telford College, see Edinburgh, dance.

Ten-week courses teaching you how to create vases and pots as well as hand building and free-form sculpture are available from City of Edinburch Council (CEC) from £60 with the option to attend studio sessions where you can continue working at your own pace. CEC, various locations, 0131 469 3250,

Jewellery making has become an increasingly popular course in recent years. The Leith School of Art and Telford College offer the opportunity to progress through different techniques and obtain qualifications. Part time courses cost around £200 per term including materials. Telford College, see Edinburgh, dance. Leith School of Art, North Junction Street, 0131 554 5761,

Get the glasswork bug at taster sessions with Creative Glass Designs or the Edinburgh Stained Glass House. You'll learn how to work with stained glass, leading and mosaics. Once you've grasped the basics, you can join the studio to continue creating your masterpieces. Courses cost around £85 and materials are extra. Creative Glass Designs, Drum Brae South, 0131 339 5135, Edinburgh Stained Glass House, Balcarres Street, 0131 452 8062,

Learn how to cut patterns, use sewing machines and choose fabrics with textile and fashion design courses at CEC and Telford College. A beginner level dressmaking course with CEC costs £66 for ten weeks and offers the opportunity to progress to more difficult work. Contact Telford direct for fees. Telford College, see Edinburgh, dance. CEC, see Edinburgh, ceramics.

Professional photographers teach you about colour and composition as well as dealing with more stylised photography. Stevenson College, Bankhead Avenue, 0131 535 4600,


Take to the pottery wheel at Go Potty Ceramic Studio in Glasgow, where you will learn how to work with clay and see your handiwork fired and painted. Courses start in September and cost £60 for ten weeks. Go Potty Ceramic Studio, Great Western Road, 0141 341 0520,

Portfolio Preparation
The world-famous Glasgow School of Art (GSA) offers a range of part time courses with the Continuing Education department, including the opportunity to create a portfolio with guidance from expert tutors. Day courses cost £1100 and part time evening sessions are £260 (£220). Glasgow School of Art, Rose Street, 0141 353 4500,

Create your own individual accessories in a variety of materials at the Glasgow School of Art's silversmithing course or study for an HND at Cardonald College where you can see your creations through the entire process from design to manufacture. Cardonald College, Mosspark Drive, 0141 272 3333, GSA, see Glasgow, portfolio preparation.

Learn the basics of working with glass with a short introductory course at RDW Glass. After this you can access the specially equipped studios 24 hours a day. Workshops cost £125 then you can rent the space for £15 per night. RDW Glass, Fleming Street, 0141 556 3312,

The fashion and textile courses at Cardonald College are well respected within the industry and introduce you to all aspects of fashion design from conceptualising to the more practical elements like pattern work. The course culminates in a fashion show exhibiting the work of students at the end of the year. This vocational course is an excellent route into the fashion industry. Cardonald College, Mosspark Drive, 0141 272 3333,

What better way to unwind and energise than by learning the age-old art of yoga? There are several courses on offer including those running at the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) and at the Aditi Yoga Centre. Booking classes in blocks ensures maximum progress: eight week courses are available for around £70. Drop in classes are available once you have mastered the basics. CEC, see Edinburgh, ceramics. Aditi Yoga Centre, Alva Street, 0131 226 2601,

Enhance your chi and realign your chakras in the tranquil surroundings of the Edinburgh Buddhist Centre. Learn ancient meditation and relaxation techniques along with the option of Buddhist teachings or experience a full day meditation event with workshops followed by guided meditation sessions at lunchtimes costing only £3 (£2). Six week courses cost £68 (£45) and begin on 15 Oct. Edinburgh Buddhist Centre, Melville Terrace, 0131 662 6699,

Relax and revive with essential oils with courses which teach you about the best and safest combinations as well as simple massage techniques tailored to your individual needs. Practice on your fellow students at the CEC classes before you are inundated from requests from friends and family. Classes begin on 27 Sep and cost £60 for ten weeks. CEC, see Edinburgh, ceramics.

Take part in a diverse range of classes for all ability levels including ashtanga yoga, African dance, djembe drumming, meditation and nutrition with Gather in Glasgow. Courses and weekend sessions are available for around £7 per class. Gather in Glasgow, Ruthven Lane, 07967 188 513,

The Glasgow Buddhist Centre offers weekly, monthly and drop in meditation, yoga and tai chi classes alongside workshops on life management, Buddhist teachings and spiritual thinking. Short three week courses are an ideal way to try out the methods and cost as little as £12. If you want to progress, six week meditation courses are £62. Glasgow Buddhist Centre, Sauchiehall Street, 0141 333 0524,

Thai Yoga Massage
Metta offers a huge range of therapies and courses to teach you Thai yoga massage which combines yoga poses and Thai techniques from beginners up to teaching level. Prices available on application. Metta, various venues, 07956 911 159,


Languages can be studied at any level across the city, from phrases to help you on your summer holidays to indepth degree courses in everything from French, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese to Polish, Hungarian and Gaelic. Among the courses are those at the Institute of Applied Languages at Edinburgh University and the Edinburgh Language Centre (ELC). The autumn term for both starts on 24 September, with prices from around £100, and groups are deliberately small to ensure individual attention. ELC, Oxford Terrace, 0131 343 6596, Institute of Applied Languages, Buccleuch Place, 0131 650 6200,

The Modern Languages Unit at the University of Glasgow offers a range of classes to suit your schedule in various languages from beginner to expert level. Students will study books and films in their chosen tongue. Twenty sessions cost £122. University of Glasgow, 0141 330 2000,


Carpenters and joiners are in high demand at the moment and a number of courses at Edinburgh Telford College will prepare you for further employment. Courses from beginner level. Telford College, see Edinburgh, dance.

Telford College offers an array of courses from basic flowers for a wedding to plant and flower care. Or start at the very beginning and take an introductory course in Floral Art with CEC. It lasts 10 weeks and costs £60 with various concession prices. CEC, see Edinburgh, ceramics. Telford College, see Edinburgh, dance.

Bicycle Maintenance
Ditch the gas guzzler and take cycling seriously with this maintenance course, which will teach you how to repair and maintain your bike as well as emergency 'get you home' tips and tricks. There are full and half day courses and a wheel building class for hardcore enthusiasts. Courses cost between £16–£45. Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative, Alvanley Terrace, 0131 331 5010,

Learn how to interpret recipes and equip yourself with a whole variety of culinary techniques so that you can go home and experiment in your own kitchen. CEC runs classes in everything from Japanese and vegetarian food to international cuisine and baking. Courses last ten weeks and cost £60 including all materials. CEC, see Edinburgh, ceramics.

Short Courses for Industry
Learn everything you could possibly want to know about electrics, boilers, central heating and working with gas. Each course is certified by the relevant authorities so you can start an apprenticeship or just learn the basics to cover any emergencies that should arise in your own home. Evening, weekend and day release courses are available throughout the year. Prices vary. Cardonald College, Mosspark Drive, 0141 272 3333,

You'll never need a handy man again when you've learned basic DIY skills, from hanging pictures to building furniture and installing a shelving unit. Courses provide an overview of all the skills you will need to keep your home running smoothly. Glasgow City Council, Community Learning Centre, Mitchell Library, North Street, 0141 287 2960/2906,

If your gardening skills are sadly lacking, the Centre for Lifelong Learning has collaborated with the Botanic Gardens on a course that covers all you need to know about gardening through the winter months. It starts on 1 October and runs for 4 weeks, costing £30. Centre for Lifelong Learning, Strathclyde University, George Street, 0141 548 4389,

Whether you are a master chef or an absolute beginner, Brian Hannan, author of the popular Flavour of Scotland series, will greatly enhance your knowledge. Courses are one day or week long and provide you with a thorough grounding in basic skills and a variety of cuisines. The Cookery School, Glassford Street, 0141 552 5239,

Adventure Sports

Adrenaline junkies can satisfy their cravings at the Craigmillar Adventure Project. Abseiling, gorge walking, mountaineering and canoeing are just some of the daredevil activities open to all through beginner sessions, residential experiences and team building courses. Craigmillar Adventure Project, Peffer Place, 0131 652 1557,

Deep Blue Scuba offer a range of pool and overseas trips to get you from scuba diving in a pool to instructing in no time. Deep Blue Scuba, Coates Place, 0131 220 3636,

With this company you book a weekend then chase the surf, so you won't know your destination until you meet the instructor in his or her campervan. The fully qualified instructors get up early to check the weather reports then take you to wherever the waves are. Locations include Mull of Kintyre and Aberdeenshire and all food and accommodation is included in the weekend trips which cost from £125. Surfari Scotland, various venues, 0798 064 1739,


Whatever level you are at, whether it's tentatively grappling with the easiest courses or scaling the overhangs and crags, there is something for you at Glasgow Climbing Centre. Outdoor events run through the summer months so you won't get bored with the same old routines. Glasgow Climbing Centre, Paisley Road West, 0141 427 9550,

Fly through the air with the greatest of ease at this centre which offers beginners courses in aerial, trapeze and circus acrobatics in a relaxed and professional atmosphere. Prices vary. Spinal Chord, Landsdowne Church, Great Western Road, book online

Going Green: Cut Your Carbon

Learn tips for more environmentally friendly living with this course which covers everything from waste reduction to green transport and shopping. Your carbon footprint will be measured at the start of the course and again at the end to see just how much you have improved. CEC, see Edinburgh, ceramics.

Wine Appreciation
The only entry requirement for this course is 'an enjoyment of wine'. It will help you to identify styles, interpret and evaluate different wines and the features of different grape varieties. CEC, see Edinburgh, ceramics.

Life Coaching
Revamp your life with this intensive course in meditation, time management and achieving goals. Intended for anyone with an interest in the subject, the course will give you an insight into the skills and techniques used by life coaches to improve a person’s quality of life. University of Edinburgh, Buccleuch Place, 0131 650 4400,


Learn to seduce with some of Scotland's best performers at Club Noir. Create your burlesque alter ego and learn a full routine at regular day long workshops. Club Noir, various venues, tina@clubnoir.,


Ever wondered if you are distantly related to an ancient king or queen, or a member of the aristocracy? These introductory courses will help you map your family tree and investigate your roots. Centre for Lifelong Learning, Strathclyde University, George Street, 0141 548 4389,

Circus Skills
This workshop style class covers juggling, unicycling, stiltwalking, poi and diablo among other things. All equipment is provided and your first session is free. Glasgow Juggling Club, Kelbourne Street, 0141 945 0387/ 07813 917 746,

Novel Writing
Take your short stories to another level with a creative writing course. Just bring a pen and your sense of adventure for courses ranging from creative writing for beginners to novel writing, with lots of tips about finding inspiration, structure, plot and character development. Centre for Lifelong Learning, see Glasgow, genealogy.

Access Courses

Returning to learning after a break can be daunting, especially since it may have been years since you last set foot in a classroom. Access or Credit for Entry courses can boost your confidence and refresh your essay writing and research skills. It will give you a taster of what to expect at university and help prepare you for independent study. University of Edinburgh provides comprehensive open courses which allow freedom to choose which subjects you want to study. University of Edinburgh, Buccleuch Place, 0131 650 4400,

Access Courses

Glasgow University is among institutions offering courses to get you back in the learning mode. University of Glasgow, Glasgow, 0141 330 2000,

Yvette Hunwick studied pottery with City of Edinburgh Council and now works as a pottery teacher

I came to Edinburgh to live with my sister and I was looking for a job doing something arty that interested me. I've always been quite into arts and crafts and I was really looking for something completely different rather than drawing, painting and the regular stuff.

I only took a few classes before I joined the pottery users group and then I became obsessed! I'd be there for nine hours a day. I wouldn't eat or leave the building, I was just constantly at the wheel trying desperately to learn. Then this wonderful teacher helped me get the hang of it and once I'd got it I just couldn't stop. I went to America to go to university to further my pottery. I did my degree in art with pottery as my major. I definitely got the bug from starting in Edinburgh with the council.

I taught in the States before I came back here and now I'm teaching in Adult Education through City of Edinburgh Council. I'd really recommend these classes as a starting point. I'm now applying to the University of Edinburgh to do a PGCE in the hope of securing a job as an art teacher within Scotland's educational system. The classes are very relaxed, we do everything from nude model sculptures to making vases. There is a really laid back atmosphere and the students are really encouraged to think for themselves. My specialisation is in throwing and hand-building but I've taken a course in sculpture too. I've got two qualifications in hand-building and one in sculpture.

Eleanor Thom did a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University and has just finished her first novel

I was working in London for the council, in the planning department for four years where I was writing planning policies when I decided it was time for a change.

I'd always enjoyed writing and I didn't know you could do it as a course but when I went part time at the council I really started writing again seriously because I didn't really do much when I was working full time. I wrote one or two stories and a friend read one and she'd done a masters in creative writing so she told me about the course and I knew immediately that I wanted to do it.

Within a month I had applied for a masters in creative writing at Glasgow University. It was a one year full time course. I'd wanted to move back to Scotland anyway so I purposely applied for courses up here.
I've been writing now for a year. I started on a fiction novel when I was studying and I'd written about half of it at the end of my course. I won an award, called New Writing Ventures, for one of the chapters.

I finished the course in the summer of 2006 and won the award in the September. That gave me the money to work full time on the book. I've got it finished now and I found an agent because of the award too. It's looking really positive now.

I'd really recommend taking courses and going back to education. It's obviously worked for me and I really think that if it's something that you want to do then you should go for it.

Siva Rajah completed an advanced practioner course in Thai yoga massage and is now a senior teacher

I'm a yoga enthusiast. I'd been doing yoga for quite a while when I visited an alternative therapy trade show in London. I was looking around the show and the Metta College of Traditional Thai Yoga Massage was doing a demonstration and giving treatments. I just saw a demonstration of this weird form of massage: it was fully clothed, it was on the floor and it was really beautiful to watch, it looked as though they were dancing with the body. It wasn't a body lying face down and someone putting their hands on the back, it was intertwining with the body, moving the body, the limbs and the arms. I hadn't ever seen this sort of massage before and I saw the sign said 'Thai Yoga Massage' that really caught my interest because it was related to yoga as well. Then I could start to see where the yoga postures were, I saw the cobra and the shoulder stand. The masseur puts you into these poses, you don't actually get into them yourself. And they looked a lot more relaxing too. I had a 30-minute taster treatment there and I loved it. I signed up there and then to do their beginners course back in 2000.

The course with Metta was really a launch pad for me exploring other massage therapies. I qualified in Swedish massage and sports massage. I did two courses in them and I did anatomy and physiology, which you need to be a therapist. Then I loved the course so much that I did the Thai yoga advanced course, which took another year on top. I’ve learned so much more about how Thai yoga massage has evolved, in terms of its line work, its therapy work and acupressure points. It all gets a bit more detailed and of course you learn how to teach as well.

So now I'm a senior teacher and I'll be starting my first course solo in October this year.

Alan McCreadie studied photography at Stevenson College and now works as a freelance photographer

I'd always been interested in photography as a hobby then I decided to take it further. I'd had loads of different jobs before I went back to college. I was working in a book shop and I was starting to get bored. I really wanted to do something different. Photography just seemed the perfect thing for me to do.

I signed up for an HND in Photography at Stevenson College. I heard about the course through a friend who had already enrolled to do it. The course lasted three years although you could have opted to do it in two if you had the time to do that much study. I did a degree foundation course before it.

It opened up loads of opportunities for me. Before the course had even finished I started work as a photographer’s assistant. So the course allowed me to do that, and without it I wouldn't have been able to go into a working environment. It was fantastic for that and that's where my photography really took off from. I'm now a full time photographer.

I'd absolutely recommend going back into education, whether you are looking to change career or just to take up a new hobby. It's been the best thing that I could have done by a mile, I'm really, really pleased that I did it.


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