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Introduction to the UK Parliament: People, Processes and Public Participation

Learn about the UK Parliament with this free online course - explore the work of Parliament and find out how it’s evolving.

28,162 enrolled on this course

Houses of Parliament
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

This free online course will introduce you to the work and role of the UK Parliament. From setting the age at which we start school to deciding pension policy, the UK Parliament makes laws that impact our lives, our work and our wider society.

Learn what Parliament is and does

You will begin by looking at what Parliament is, how it is different from government and how it has changed and evolved over hundreds of years. You will find out about the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and discover how things work in the Chambers and beyond on a day-to-day basis.

Learn how Parliament scrutinises government

Parliament is vital in scrutinising the work of government; on this course you’ll learn what this looks like in practice. You will consider the different tools MPs and members of the House of Lords use to check and challenge the work of government to ensure its decisions are transparent, efficient and fair. You will examine the purpose and role of different types of questions, discover some of the conventions of debate and explore the work of select committees.

Learn how Parliament is evolving

Towards the end of the course, you will examine the process of law making and discover the journey of a Bill. You will also explore the range of opportunities open to citizens, which enable you to engage with and influence the UK Parliament.

What topics will you cover?

The course covered topics including;

• the difference between Parliament and Government including differing roles and responsibilities
• the three parts of Parliament and the role Parliament plays in scrutinising the work of the Government
• an introduction to the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords
• how Parliamentary Questions are used by MPs and members of the House of Lords to hold the Government to account
• the difference between oral and written questions, and how questions can be used to seek immediate answers on urgent or important matters
• what happens during Prime Minister’s Questions and public perceptions of PMQs
• debates in Parliament, including some of the rules and conventions
• the role and work of select committees
• the different types of Bill, and the process of how a Bill becomes a law
• the effect that changes in the law can have on individuals and on society, with reference to specific case studies
• the different ways the public can input in the work of the UK Parliament.

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...

  • Develop your understanding of the difference between Parliament and Government.
  • Explore how members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords scrutinise the work of the Government through questions, debates and select committees.
  • Develop your understanding of how Bills become law.
  • Reflect on the different ways people can participate with the work of the UK Parliament.

Who is the course for?

There are no special requirements for this course. This is an introductory course and is open to everyone who has an interest in developing their understanding of the UK Parliament.

Who will you learn with?

I am a Senior Producer in Education and Engagement at UK Parliament.

Our work seeks to support understanding of and engagement with the work of the UK Parliament.


Public Enquiries Manager

I work in the House of Commons Enquiry Service answering questions and explaining the work and role of the House of Commons.

Public Enquiries Officer for the House of Commons

Previous content manager at the House of Lords, now social media manager at the Parliamentary Digital Service.

Public Enquiries Officer for the House of Commons

Who developed the course?

UK Parliament

The UK Parliament represents the people of the United Kingdom and makes decisions that affect us all.

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

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