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Short courses, ExpertTracks, and Microcredentials – Explained

Searching for a course but not sure which option is right for you? Take a look at this quick comparison to help you choose.

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We have over 1,000 different courses across a multitude of topics, from cancer care and cyber security through to Python and psychology. Once you’ve decided on a topic, you can find the perfect format based on what you’d like to get out of your learning. 

All of our courses are fully online and you can always learn around your schedule, whether you’re an early bird, night owl, shift worker, or parent. 

By taking a FutureLearn course, you’ll also benefit from our award-winning user experience and the option to access the responsive website from your computer, laptop, or smartphone. You’ll even have the chance to connect with learners from all over the world to share your thoughts and experiences through social learning

FeaturesShort CourseExpertTrackMicrocredential
Fully online learning
Created by world-leading organisations
Learn through articles, video, quizzes, and exercises
Expert guided and peer-led discussions
Available on-demandMostx
Cancel any timeCancellation period applies
Earn an online certificateUpgrade
Included in Unlimitedxx
Gain academic creditxx
Learn in small cohortsxx
Peer graded assessmentsxx
Support from a dedicated tutor xx
Learning hours4-2420-120100-150
Learn for freeHundreds of courses are free1 week free trial
Overall cost£0-£99£36 per month£350-£700
Perfect for an intro, topping up, hobbies, and lighter learning
Built to make you an expert, fast
Ideal for deeper learning with academic credit

Short courses are a great option to top-up your knowledge or get an introduction to a topic in 4-24 learning hours. Many of our short courses are on-demand, so you don’t need to wait for a start date to be available. Almost all short courses are free to access and offer the option of upgrades if you’d like to get long-term access to course materials and earn a digital certificate upon successful completion. These are some of our most popular options for both hobbyist and career learners. 

ExpertTracks are online learning subscriptions that are designed to work around your needs – you only pay while you subscribe and can cancel any time. They’ve been designed around in-demand skills and are made up of several short courses, so typically take 20-120 learning hours to complete. Each one is available on-demand and comes with a 7-day free trial before you commit, and the subscription automatically cancels once you’ve finished the courses. They’re a great way to build in-demand career skills and get a certificate as proof.

Microcredentials are a great option for anybody who would like to gain academic credit as part of their learning. Each microcredential offers tutor support and smaller cohorts, so there will be a date in which the course runs and you will have specific periods where you can enrol, take the course, and interact with your tutor and your fellow learners. As our most in-depth learning option, they’ll take around 100-150 learning hours to complete (and you’ll retain access once you’ve finished the microcredential) and cost £350-700. 

Of course, you don’t need to take just one. If you’ve tried out a short course and would like to build your knowledge from there, you can follow our pathways and take an ExpertTrack or even work up to a Microcredential. Likewise, if you’re not totally sure what topic you want to study, you can always take a few short courses to see what suits you before you make a bigger commitment. 

And if you’re a consummate learner, you can always join Unlimited to take as many short courses as you want without the need to individually upgrade each course. 


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