Most FutureLearn courses run on our upgrade model.
What is a course upgrade?
When a learner upgrades a course, they get:
Unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn
Learners who join a course for free will get access to the course for its duration plus 14 days – regardless of when they start. So if the course lasts four weeks, but they join half way through, they’ll get access to the course for four weeks plus 14 days, starting from the day they join.
Access to any tests
Access to tests (summative assessment) will require upgrading.
Quizzes and peer-reviewed steps (formative assessment) are free.
A Certificate of Achievement when they complete the course
To receive a Certificate of Achievement learners must upgrade and:
Mark as complete 90% or more of the steps on a course
Attempt all test questions
Attain an overall course score of 70% or greater (where the course includes scored steps such as tests)
If a learner upgrades their course, but doesn’t achieve a high enough test score to qualify for a Certificate of Achievement, we will offer them a voucher to upgrade a future run of the course – if they get in touch with our community team.
Limited course access for free learners
Learners who join for free on an upgrade course run have access to the run for a limited period.
How is limited course access calculated?
Free learners on an upgrade course have access to the course run for the duration of the run plus 14 days. This access period is calculated individually for each learner – based on their personal enrolment date on a course.
For free learners who enrol on a course before or on its start date, their access period is calculated from the course start date. For free learners who enrol on a course after its start date, their access period is calculated from their enrolment date.
For example, for a 4-week course that starts on 1 November:
- a learner who enrols for free before or on 1 November will have access to the course until 12 December (ie 4 weeks plus 14 days from 1 November)
- a learner who enrols for free on 10 November will have access until 21 December (ie 4 weeks plus 14 days from 10 November)
This means the date that free access ends will differ for different learners on the same course run.
Who is affected by limited course access?
FutureLearn informs free learners about their personal free access end date in several ways in a course, through:
- a banner displayed at the top of the course 'To do' list and on all step pages that the learner can dismiss (see image above)
- an email sent 10 days before the learner’s free access ends
- an email sent on the final day of a learner’s free access
- an email sent 3 days after a learner’s free access ends
- Your Learning page
It’s important to note that partners with any of the following user permissions will have unlimited access to courses and access to tests on course runs across FutureLearn, without buying a course upgrade:
- Organisation admins
- Run authors
- Run reviewers
- Run facilitators
- Run markers
How does limited course access work with extended enrolment?
This section only applies to short courses that cannot be on the 'on demand' model because they contain highly sensitive topics or are highly facilitated. Most short courses will now be running continuously on the 'on demand' model so will not have an extended enrolment period. If this is the case with your course, please ignore this section.
The extended enrolment window by default is an extra six weeks on most courses (this is the default, but it can be adjusted by FutureLearn).
Where the extended enrolment window is six weeks, learners can find and enrol on a course for up to six weeks beyond the length of the course. You can read more about extended enrolment windows here.
For learners who enrol for free on an upgrade course in the extended enrolment window, the same rules about free access apply. As they will have enrolled on the course after its start date, their access period is calculated from their enrolment date.
For example, if we assume our 4-week course that starts on 1 November has a 6-week enrolment window, a learner could enrol until 9 January. If a learner enrols for free on this course on 20 December, they will have access until 30 January (i.e. 4 weeks plus 14 days from 20 December).
Do free and upgraded learners form separate 'cohorts' on a course?
No. Free and upgraded learners on the same course run will be part of the same cohort. They will access the majority of the course content together, and will interact with one another through social features such as Commenting, Liking, Replying, Following, Peer Review and Study Groups, which will still be available to all learners on the course.
What's the difference between quizzes and tests?
Tests are only available to upgraded learners. They are usually summative, taking place after significant periods of learning such as an activity or week, or at the end of a course. This form of assessment helps learners demonstrate their understanding and verify evidence of their learning for certification and professional development.
Quizzes will remain free – they are formative and not scored. They can be used for learners to check their understanding and get valuable feedback from the educator – they provide learners with a point of reflection on their learning.
Are upgraded learners able to retake tests?
No, it is only possible to take tests once. Within a test, each question allows three attempts.
For more information on quizzes and tests click here.
How should I talk about upgrading in course content?
You can tailor the following to use in any step.
If your course offers a Certificate of Achievement, use this copy:
###Get extra benefits, upgrade your course
You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:
**Unlimited access to the course:** Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.
**Access to tests:** Ensure you’ve mastered the material with access to tests on the course.
**A Certificate of Achievement:** To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.