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How it works

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The quick start guide to how to learn with FutureLearn. How you access your Activity, Replies and Progress has recently changed. We’ll be updating this video soon, but in the meantime, read our blog post for details.

Pick a course

Browse our course list to find something that you’d like to learn about. We have courses in a diverse range of subjects and are always adding more. Courses vary in length. Most are six to ten weeks long but we also have some shorter two and three week courses.

Perhaps you might want to invite a friend to take part with you? You can do this via email and social media when you join.

Introduce yourself

While you’re waiting for the course to start, you can fill in your profile page so that other learners can find out more about you. You can find your profile in the menu on the top right of the screen.

We’ll email you to let you know when the course starts. If you’ve signed up a long time in advance, we’ll also send you a ‘one month to go’ email, to help you prepare for the course.

Start the course

Once the course begins, a link will appear on Your courses dashboard. This will take you to the course ‘To do’ list, which will show you what to do next.

To do

FutureLearn courses are divided into weeks. These contain various activities that you should aim to complete within the week, each one built from a sequence of straightforward steps, to help you learn. Each week is given a descriptive name, so you always know what’s expected, and you can even navigate between them, to see what’s coming up, or catch up from the beginning if you’re late starting.

Videos, audio and articles

You can learn by watching videos, listening to audio and reading articles. Many of these steps are followed by short quizzes to help you check that you have understood.

Comments in the margin

Every article, video or piece of audio has a space to allow learners to comment and ask questions. This appears in the margin on large screens or is revealed below on small screens.

You can discuss topics with each other and educators will offer guidance and answer questions. Press the comment button to join the conversation.

Mark as complete

There is a switch at the end of each step that allows you to mark it as complete. This updates your ‘To do’ list, but leaving the switch off does not prevent you from moving on to the next step.If you’re not sure that you properly understood something, you can leave it and come back to it later.


Every so often, you’ll come across a discussion step, where you’ll be given a topic to talk over with fellow learners. Talking about ideas is a really great way to learn and consolidate information, so give it a go, even if you find it daunting!


Want to find out what everyone is talking about right now? Go to the course activity page to see what questions you can help answer and which topics are under debate.


Once you start commenting, you’ll probably get replies from other learners. You’ll see these on the replies page. You’ll also get email notifications, so that you never miss a reply.


Spotted somebody that is making interesting points and asking great questions? Press the ‘Follow’ button on their profile page and you can filter the discussions to include the people you’re most interested in. If someone follows you and you follow back, you can learn together.


Many activities will include a quiz, a moment to pause and check how well you’ve understood the key points from the previous video or article before moving on. The quizzes are not scored, you get an unlimited number of tries at each question and we give you feedback and hints on each go.


At key moments in the course, you’ll find tests. They work in much the same way as quizzes but tests are scored and are limited to three tries. These count towards your overall mark and are designed to test your knowledge. We’ll give you three points if you get a question right first time, two on your second attempt and one on your third.


Many of our courses also offer you the opportunity to do assignments and get feedback from other learners on the course. Each assignment will come with clear instructions about how to write or create your assignment, as well as give constructive feedback to others. It’s a great opportunity to put what you’ve learnt into practice and get tips on how to improve.

Completing the course

On most courses you’ll have the option to buy a Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation to show you took part.

A Certificate of Achievement includes your name; a detailed outline of what you’ve learned and how long it took; the logos of the university and other organisations associated with your course. Your printed certificate will also include the lead educator’s signature.

To be eligible for a Certificate of Achievement, you must complete 90% of the steps in a course, attempt every test question in the course, and score over 70% on average across all course tests.

A Statement of Participation includes your name; a short summary of the course and how long it took; the logo of the university and other organisations associated with your course. The Statement will confirm that you’ve completed the majority of steps in a course and attempted all test questions, but unlike the Certificate it will not show your individual level of completion or your test scores.

To be eligible for a Statement of Participation, you need to have completed the majority of steps on a course and all of the tests.

On some courses, we also offer you the chance to demonstrate your knowledge of a subject by taking an invigilated exam at a local test centre. If you pass you’ll get a Statement of Attainment to provide evidence of your new skills. We’re working with professional bodies and other organisations to make these recognised and useful things.

To read more about this you can visit our FAQs on Certificates of Achievement, Statements of Participation and Statements of Attainment.

Choose the next course

Education is infectious: we’re confident that you’ll enjoy the FutureLearn experience so much, you’ll have signed up to another course before the first is even finished!

Browse our courses to get started