Most FutureLearn short courses run on our upgrade model.
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 – regardless of when they start. If the course lasts four weeks, but they join three weeks after it started, they’ll get free access to the course for four weeks, starting from the day they join.
Learners who have not yet upgraded a short course on the upgrade model (and who do not have a FutureLearn Unlimited pass) can access course content for a limited time. This free access period is defined by the length of the course in weeks. If a course is five weeks long, a learner who joins has five calendar weeks from the date they joined to complete the course before their free access is revoked. In some cases they may have an extended two-week grace period to complete their studies.
- Access to any tests
Access to tests (summative assessment) will require upgrading.
Quizzes and peer-reviewed steps (formative assessment) are free. Learn more about our assessment types.
- 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 a scored step - a test)
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 course in weeks. This access period is calculated for each learner, according to when they enrolled on the course, or when the course starts - whichever date is later.
In other words, for a four-week course that starts on Monday 3 October:
- a learner who enrols for free on 20 September can begin learning on Monday 3 October and has access to the course until 31 October, four weeks later
- a learner who enrols for free on 2 November can begin learning immediately, and will have access until 30 November
The date that free access ends will differ for 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:
- 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
- on the ‘Your Learning’ page
Partner users with any of the following 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
Limited course access and extended enrolment
The extended enrolment window by default is an extra six weeks on most courses (but it can be adjusted by FutureLearn). Learners can find and enrol on a course for up to six weeks beyond the length of the course.
Extended enrolment does not extend a learner’s free access period. It only extends the period within which a learner may enrol. For learners who enrol for free on an upgrade course in the extended enrolment window, the normal rules about free access apply.
Example: a four-week course starts on 1 November with a six-week enrolment window. A learner can enrol until 9 January. If a learner enrols for free on this course on 20 December, they will have access until 16 January.
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.
Terminology on this page that you aren’t familiar with? Check out our glossary