• University of Strathclyde

Genetic Genealogy: Researching your Family Tree using DNA

Learn what you need to know for meaningful interpretation of DNA test results in your family tree research.

3,501 enrolled on this course

Genealogy tree

Genetic Genealogy: Researching your Family Tree using DNA

3,501 enrolled on this course

  • 6 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Understand the science behind DNA test findings in family history research

If you’re interested in researching your family history and genealogy, this six-week course from the University of Strathclyde is for you. Complementing the University’s course, Genealogy: researching your family tree, it explains genetics and DNA test results in simple terms, so you can really understand your ancestry.

Gain insight into the science behind family tree research

The course begins with an introduction to DNA testing, giving you the know-how to decide which DNA test suits your needs and formulate a testing strategy.

You’ll also learn the all-important tasks of identifying the important genetic matches in your DNA test results and identifying and researching dead ends so you can find the family history that is actually relevant for you.

Enjoy the unique benefits offered by this family tree course

No other online course offers guidance not only on researching your family history but also in understanding the science behind your DNA test findings. With this training, you’ll be able to make the most of your results and find the most meaning in your genealogy.

Delve into your DNA test results with the world-renowned University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde is a leader in genealogical education and research. Besides working on several scientific advances in the field, it is the only institution offering genealogical courses at every level from undergraduate to Doctorate.

With its run of successful online courses in recent years, it offers all the support and resources you need to research your family tree.


  • Week 1

    Beginning the journey

    • Welcome to the course

      We're thrilled you've joined us! Here you'll hear about the course overall, how you'll learn and also meet your educators.

    • Welcome to Week 1

      Here we'll learn a bit more about Mary and John, and start to think about family trees.

    • Traditional Family Research

      An introduction to traditional genealogy, often the starting point in family research before DNA is considered

    • Considerations for DNA testing

      In this activity we'll learn a bit about DNA testing, and follow Mary as she considers if it's right for her family history research.

    • What is DNA?

      Here, we'll learn more about DNA and how it's inherited.

    • End of week tasks

      As we approach the end of the first week, we'll take a moment to reflect and look back at what we've learned so far.

  • Week 2

    Developing a testing strategy

    • Welcome to week 2

      In this activity, you'll hear about what we'll be focusing on this week.

    • A strategy for Mary

      Here we'll think about what Mary hopes to achieve through her research and what she should think about before she begins.

    • DNA

      In this activity we'll learn more about different types of DNA tests and their uses.

    • Testing strategies

      Here we'll think a bit more about the various testing strategies available and how suitable they might be for Mary and John.

    • Taking a test

      In this activity we'll learn about the process of taking a test and start to think about what happens next.

    • Inheritance

      In this activity we'll learn about inheritance and its implications.

    • End of week tasks

      As we come to the end of week 2, we'll take a moment to reflect on and discuss what we've learned so far.

  • Week 3

    Which matches are important?

    • Welcome to week 3

      In week 3, we study matches in more detail and also how to investigate and interpret results.

    • Receiving results

      Here, Mary and John receive some results! Let's find out what they can tell us.

    • Investigating matches

      In this activity we think about what Mary should do next, thinking about how we go about investigating results.

    • Known relatives

      In this activity, we think about known relatives and how they can help with our research.

    • Reviewing results

      Here, we think about how to review and analyse our results - including 'clustering'.

    • Mitochondrial DNA

      Here we'll learn more about mitochondrial DNA and the opportunities it offers for testing.

    • End of week tasks

      As we approach the end of the week, we'll take a moment to look back on what we've learned and discuss our progress.

  • Week 4

    Painting chromosomes

    • Welcome to week 4

      In this week continues our focus on autosomal DNA while think about the value of maximising potential matches.

    • Corresponding with matches

      Here, we'll learn more about corresponding with matches and see Mary make direct contact with a close match.

    • Managing matches

      This section focuses on the challenges of managing matches and how to navigate these effectively.

    • Analysis and tools

      Here we'll learn about chromosome matching and DNA Painter, hearing from the creator of DNA Painter Jonny Perl.

    • End of week tasks

      As we approach the end of week 4, we'll take a moment to reflect on what we've learned and discuss progress so far.

  • Week 5

    Researching dead ends

    • Welcome to week 5

      In week 5, we'll cover Y-DNA, ethnicity and mitochondrial DNA.

    • Exploring Y-DNA

      Here we'll focus on Y-DNA, and there's a surprise in store for John when he receives his results.

    • Admixture (ethnicity) and endogamy

      Here we'll consider how genetic lineages can be formed and also how some can die out.

    • Haplogroups

      In this activity we'll think in more detail about haplogroups and haplotrees.

    • End of week tasks

      Here, we'll look back over week 5 and what we've learned about researching dead ends.

  • Week 6

    Maximising testing

    • Welcome to week 6

      In this, our final week, we'll think about how to maximise your testing, and we'll also see how Mary and John have done just that.

    • Advanced Y-DNA testing

      Here we'll discuss advanced Y-DNA testing, thinking about how it can help to maximise results.

    • More research options

      In this activity we'll cover some other research options you may be interested in exploring.

    • Summary of the course

      In this activity we'll start by thinking about what Mary has learned over her journey, before moving on to reflect on what you've learned on yours.

    • Conclusions

      As we come to the end of the course we want to say thank you all for learning with us! here we'll see what Mary has done with her new knowledge, and pause for a final moment of reflection.

    • Further learning

      Here you'll find some resources and options to continue learning about genetic genealogy.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the most appropriate test for diferent research scenarios
  • Create a DNA testing strategy which is appropriate for the research scenario
  • Evaluate different types of test result
  • Engage with features, tools and applications to group DNA matches
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different patterns of genetic inheritance
  • Synthesise genetic genealogy with traditional genealogical research techniques and practices

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in DNA test procedures and family tree research. This includes professionals who need to understand the results for work as well as individuals who want to understand the science while looking into their genealogies.

Who will you learn with?

Alasdair is a Teaching Fellow on the MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies by Distance Learning at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

Graham is the Principal Tutor on the MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies by Distance Learning at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

Who developed the course?

University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde is a leading international technological university located in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, committed to useful learning.

Ways to learn

Buy this course

Subscribe & save

Limited access

Choose the best way to learn for you!

$134/one-off payment

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews


Fulfill your current learning needDevelop skills to further your careerSample the course materials
Access to this courseticktick

Access expires 25 Jul 2024

Access to 1,000+ coursescrosstickcross
Learn at your own paceticktickcross
Discuss your learning in commentstickticktick
Certificate when you're eligiblePrinted and digitalDigital onlycross
Continue & Upgrade

Cancel for free anytime

Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 25 Jul 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...