Learn to code for free: The best UK coding and app development courses

Knowing programming language is a valuable asset for any modern job. Here's where you can learn to code for free

Learning to code is a surefire way to help yourself stand out in the UK's competitive job market. Even if you aren't applying for jobs related to the tech sector, knowing your way around HTML and CSS - or even PHP or Python - can make you more valuable due to the dearth of employees with those skills. It's such a vital skill that every year, typically in September, the UK celebrates National Coding Week - a series of events aimed at getting adults into coding.

If you can't make it to one of these National Coding Week events, there is a wealth of online resources to help you get started and, just like learning a new language, there are plenty of places that will teach you to code for free. Here's our guide to the best places to learn to code for free.

Learn to code for free

1. Grasshopper

Created by Google employees as part of the company's Area 120 internal incubator, Grasshopper gamifies the process of learning to code. Available on iOS and Android, Grasshopper features lesson sections covering fundamentals of coding, such as functions, variables, objects, and more.

It's primarily based around JavaScript, but it also covers the basic HTML and CSS skills needed for web page creation, as well as how to tackle the kinds of coding problems that are used as tests during interviews for jobs in the field.

2. Codecademy

Started in 2011, Codecademy is easily the most popular way to learn how to code -more than 25 million people have picked up programming skills through its online courses. Codecademy is completely free - otherwise, it wouldn't be on our list - and you can learn at your own pace. While some courses require you to watch videos and take notes, Codcademy is very much hands-on, putting you through projects and having you build websites and apps to learn your skills.

Codecademy also offers a paid-for version for those who want or need a little more guidance and structure. But if all you want to do is learn how to pick up the basics and sharpen your skills, then its free courses in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, Python and Ruby will serve you well.

3. W3Schools

While not affiliated with the W3C, W3Schools is the dream for anyone looking for a straightforward way to learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, SQL, jQuery, AngularJS, XML and Bootstrap.

Instead of guiding you through the basics, W3Schools presents you with all the information about a particular language element. You can either decide to learn by reading, or you can jump in and tinker with each element in a live preview to understand how it works. In each tutorial, W3Schools layers up each element as you learn them, so you can begin to see how they work with each other too.

W3Schools is perfect a reference tool so, if you're already well on your way to learning how to code, it's a great resource to have on hand. While everything is available for free, if you want to gain a formal qualification W3Schools also offers that via a paid-for test.

4. Free Code Camp

Want to learn to code but also do some good in the process? Free Code Camp is perfect for you. Providing you with courses, projects and certifications for free, it also helps you meet others learning to code so that you can meet up and work together in person.

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After you've worked out the basics of front-end, back-end, visualisations and full-stack development, Free Code Camp puts your skills to the test by developing solutions for non-profits. Not only does that help you understand how to build an application as a small team, it also helps a worthwhile cause and gives you a project to put on your CV. Not bad for a free code site.

5. Coursera

Coursera is really more of a general-purpose online education tool similar to Udemy. However, it's great for those looking to grasp the basics around learning how to code.

While all courses are free of charge, you'll have to pay if you want to gain an accredited qualification - or a "Coursera Verified Certificate". It's worth a look though as many reputable institutions, such as the universities of Washington, Michigan, Toronto and even Stanford offer up introductory classes.

If you prefer to be guided by a teacher, Coursera is a great place to start - especially if you can't afford the absurd fees many coding schools ask for.

6. GA Dash

If you have the capital, the full-fat General Assembly is a fantastic way to learn how to code. It offers interactive lessons, evening and weekend lessons and excellent personal project guidance. However, it can also cost thousands of pounds.

That's where GA Dash comes in, a streamlined, project-based learning tool to help you pick up the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. While Dash's projects and teaching isn't as in-depth about each individual language, it's perfect for those who want to grow their skills in website building and design.

7. Founders & Coders

Founders & Coders isn't your average way to learn how to code - in fact, 99% of those who look into it will realise it's not for them. However, as a way to learn how to code and to secure a job that utilises those skills, Founders & Coders' unique proposition is hard to fault.

Founders and Coders believes that education shouldn't just be accessible to those who can afford to pay for it. Every year, it takes on a select group of students and trains them in full-stack JavaScript and other web development tools completely for free. Any profits made from graduate placements then go back in to feed the training process.

If you think you meet the mark, and believe that a full-time coding course is really for you, then it could be worth applying to Founders & Coders.

8. Coder's Guide

Prefer to learn via the medium of YouTube videos? Coder's Guide is the series for you. Featuring videos on how to learn HTML/CSS, Visual Basic, JavaScript, Bootstrap, WordPress and more, there are hours of footage for you to absorb completely for free.

9. Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft has its own free online learning tool but, as you can imagine, it all hinges around its own products. This is also not for the faint-hearted. While other online courses will teach you the basics of Java, HTML, CSS and more, the lowest-grade language you'll learn here is C#.

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However, Microsoft's courses are beneficial for some. Not only will completing the course give you a Microsoft-certified accreditation - a strong thing to put on your CV - but you'll also have a far better understanding of how a lot of Microsoft's systems work. Not bad for a free selection of online courses, papers and tests.

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