- Top tips
- Course title
- Introductory sentence
- Course image
- Course weeks and hours
- Course start date
- Course overview
- What topics will you cover?
- Automatic syllabus
- Facilitation windows
- Learning outcomes
- Who is this course for?
- Key skills you will learn
- What software or tools do you need?
- Educator profiles
- Who developed the course?
- Learner reviews
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The Course Description Page is the landing page advertising your course to the public. Potential learners scroll through the information (often on their phones) to decide whether the course is right for them. They find your Course Description Page either by typing in related keywords in Google/search engine or by looking through the course listings directly on the FutureLearn website.
CDPs have a slightly different appearance for short courses, ExpertTracks, and Microcredentials.
1. Complete your course proposal thoroughly
The course title, introductory sentence, course overview, and ‘Who is your course for?’ on the CDP are all written by our Copywriters using the information you provide in your course proposal. Provide great, thorough information in the course proposal. They undertake analysis and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) research to write compelling content and determine which keywords will rank highly in Google searches. Terms that you think will rate highly may have a high ‘difficulty’ score which means they already appear on too many high-ranking pages. It’s a balance getting this right.
2. Trust our Copywriters
They write 100s of CDPs, testing, experimenting, and analysing what works best, they know how all FutureLearn CDPs are written i.e. we use language like 'you'll learn' instead of 'the learner' or 'you'll have the opportunity to learn' to speak directly to the reader and encourage them to join. When the CDP is ready we send it to you to review - we want to know if anything is fundamentally inaccurate.
3. Don’t make changes to the CDP copy in Course Creator
Our Copywriters spend hours writing this content. If you wish to suggest changes, which are more than a tweak to one word, request the ‘copy document’ for your course. We can send it to you to amend with comments (and view the before and after).
4. You are responsible for some areas of CDP
Download our 5 Stages of Course Development and complete all the tasks listed in ‘build and run’ i.e. input your learning outcomes into Course Creator.
Sections of the CDP
Below is descriptions of all the sections of the CDP in order of how they appear to the public from top to bottom. Download our CDP example at the bottom of the page, to see these descriptions in situ. It’s not possible to change the order of the sections on the CDP.
- Key to helping the course rank well in Google.
- Need to be short, simple, and clearly communicate course content to learners.
- Obscure, long, or ‘non-descriptive’ titles do not perform well.
- When your course shell is created, after your proposal is approved, your course title will include ‘TBC” - to indicate it is a working title.
- Our copywriters will optimise the title to include high-ranking keywords, to avoid mimicking other courses on the FutureLearn platform, and to be sure it promotes the correct pitch or level for the course.
- If it is introductory we want to include this, if it is intermediate or a refresher we want to align learner’s expectations correctly.
- Research has found that short course titles (4 or fewer words) get higher enrolments.
- If a subheading is included this will appear on the same line after a colon.
- Maximum characters (including spaces) for a course title: 200 for a short course, 130 for an Expert Track.
- One pitch line for the course, should be able to stand alone in isolation with only the title and provide a clear indication of what the course is about.
- Character limit including spaces: 130.
- Represent your course across the platform with a strong course image. The image will resize in various shapes for mobile learners.
- Either: share your own course image with the content team, we will reformat it for all areas of the platform or our Media Specialists will find one from stock image libraries.
- Dimensions 1600 x1066 px, ratio 3:2
- Follow our advice about selecting great images.
- Aim to have a clear image - with no text, watermarks or logos - which contains the main content in the middle.
- Use the course image as part of your promotional activities.
Course weeks and hours
- FutureLearn courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps.
- On the CDP: duration = number of weeks. Weekly study = number of hours required per week.
- The number of hours per week is populated by what you insert into your course proposal.
- The number of weeks pulls through when you build your course in the ‘content’ tab in Course Creator. Each week you add is added to the total shown on the CDP.
- Weeks and hours indicate to learners how much time they may need to set aside to complete the course. Learners are taking time out of their lives to study and require an accurate reflection of this time.
- Calculate learning hours by including time for discussion with other learners, offline activity and take into account dyslexic learners and learners for whom English is an additional language, etc.
Course start date
- The date the course content will be made available to learners.
- Very few courses now have the CDP published ahead of the start date - i.e an enrolment period.
- Evidence shows learners want courses available to learn now. Publishing the CDP on the course start date means learners can start studying straight away. Marketing courses after their course start date is also preferable, provided they are on demand.
- If the course start date has passed the pink button below the introductory sentence states ‘join course’ and the section further down ‘when would you like to start’ states ‘available now’.
- Course start date is referred to as launch date for ExpertTracks.
- Contractually the price of short courses is set by FutureLearn, unless your course will be sponsored.
- The price of a course indicates how much it will cost learners to upgrade and receive ongoing access to the course content and a certificate of achievement.
- Learners can access course content for free on all open courses.
- Learners who have subscribed for Unlimited will not need to pay to upgrade.
- FutureLearn takes into account factors such as market research, historic data, length of course, and audience when setting course price.
- Long section describing your course (it is referred to as course description in Course Creator for short courses and ‘About’ on Expert Tracks).
- Contains 3-4 subheadings which all contribute to ranking well in Google i.e. the subheadings must include the right keywords.
- The description is crucial to entice learners. It explains the benefits of the course to the learner, not the features of the course. Our copywriters avoid ambiguity - they use plain English and concise language. Descriptions don’t use ‘we’. They are written using active voice, are positive, inspiring, and written how you would talk to someone.
- Evidence shows that longer overviews lead to more traffic to pages.
- Find the description section in Course Creator in ‘course run details’ in the details tab.
- Character limit (including spaces): first subheading 80, short course overview: 1800, ExpertTrack ‘about’ 2500 characters.
A great way to advertise your course and give potential learners an insight into what to expect. Trailers are not compulsory. Top tips provided below.
- Plan and script your trailer in advance. Script around existing video content
- Choose the best presenter or VO - make sure they’re engaging.
- Plan for the length to be two minutes or less.
- Explain succinctly what the course is about, who it is for, and what makes it distinctive.
- Avoid unnecessary jargon/acronyms and complex language.
- Subtitles are compulsory (upload a VTT file).
- Include FutureLearn brand assets as an outro.
- Select ‘course trailer’ in the details tab in Course Creator and upload the file and VTT for a short course trailer.
- Select the best poster frame, it acts as your course’s “shop window”. Select ‘edit poster frame’ in Course Creator once uploaded.
- Be sure to include the title of the course in at least one place and repeat it at the end. Only create the trailer once the title has been researched and approved by our Copywriters.
- To insert an ExpertTrack trailer select the programs tab, and 'edit program' below the course title. Scroll to the pink 'trailers' button.
What topics will you cover?
- A short list of bullet points outlining the key themes of the course, populated by the list you provide in your course proposal.
- Section is called ‘course syllabus’ within Course Creator. The contents pulls through from what is provided in your course proposal.
- List also appears on the Certificate of Achievement Transcript, which learners can gain if they complete the course.
- After QA we remove this list from the CDP and replace it with the 'auto-syllabus' (see below).
- Avoid using verbs and the past tense, and do not mention “learners”. If the list is long, break it up with sub-headings, based on each week’s theme – for example, “Week 1 – Introduction to Cellular Networks and their Planning”.
- Colourful concertina of boxes, which when clicked will reveal the activity images, titles, and descriptions of each week within the course.
- Provides more detail about what learners can expect to be covered within each week of a course. Increasing their confidence that the course will meet their needs.
- The content team will add this before a course goes live, after QA when the course activities have been finalised.
- Most of our courses are on-demand, allowing more Learners to access your content and freeing up educators to facilitate as and when they are available. Facilitation is not compulsory on short courses, and no facilitation takes place on Expert Tracks.
- All short course CDPs have a section called ‘learning on this course’.
- If a course will be unfacilitated it will include text promoting the benefits of social learning:
You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
- If your educators decide to actively facilitate your course for a period of time; replying to learners and answering their questions, the dates will appear in this section (up to 4 weeks in advance).
- Insert the facilitation window dates in Course Creator in the facilitation tab.
- Appear on the CDP below the heading ‘What will you achieve’ and the sentence ‘By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to…’
- Short list of bullet points and must start with active verbs.
- Insert your learning outcomes into Course Creator (author or org admin permission required) in the 'Details' tab before a course goes live.
Who is this course for?
- Written by our Copywriters, using the information provided in your course proposal.
- The language used appeals directly to the target audience starting with, ‘This course is designed for…’
- Requirements are also listed in this section - does the learner need any prior knowledge to join this course?
- Setting learners expectations is paramount, they need to know they are ‘in the right place’ when they join the course.
- No course is for ‘everyone’.
- Character limit (including spaces) 255.
- Within ExpertTracks this information is split across two fields called Experience required and Getting Started. Insert the pre-requisites and demographics the course is suitable for - remembering that ExpertTracks are richer in content. Both sections have a total of 600 characters including spaces.
- Experience required is referred to as ‘are you eligible for this Expert Track’ in Course Creator. Getting started is ‘is this ET right for you’.
Key skills you will learn
- Only a section on ExpertTrack CDPs
- Input a list of skills, one at a time (click enter after each one) when you create your ExpertTrack shell.
- Maximum of 12 key skills. 2-3 words per skill max.
- Our Copywriters may tweak them or add more.
- They should be key takeaways that the learner will gain from completing the course and be able to use in their life/career.
What software or tools do you need?
- Populate this section in ‘course run details’ in the details tab in Course Creator.
- If your course is not suitable for mobile phone users we must be clear about this.
- This section isn’t compulsory but worth bearing in mind. Managing learner expectations is key.
- Appear in a section called ‘Who will you learn with?’
- Course educators are the face of the course, they have either contributed to the content or will be facilitating it for periods of time.
- Every person who has signed into FutureLearn can set up a profile. A profile includes an image and a short bio about them (2 short sentences).
- Setting up a profile/amending a profile can only be done by the individual by clicking sign up on the FutureLearn landing page. Find out more about populating a profile.
- To add an educator profile to a CDP they must first be assigned a role within the course.
- Once they have accepted the invitation of their role, they will appear in the drop down within ‘course educators’ in the detail tab of Course Creator. Selecting their name in the drop-down will add them to CDP. Organisation Admin permission is required to do this.
- There is no limit to the number of educators who can appear on a CDP but we recommend no more than 6.
- Learners can click on the profile image or name on a CDP to view their full profile and ‘follow’ the educator.
Who developed the course?
- Your logo (partner logo) appears under this heading along with the short description provided in your organisation profile.
- This short description has to be the same on all CDPs. Learners can click on your organisation name or logo to view your partner page.
- External organisations who have co-created, supported, funded, collaborated, provided content or accredited/endorsed the course will also appear in this section. Learn more about this on our collaborating organisation page.
- Co-creators also appear at the top of the CDP, to the right of your logo.
- After 5 learners have reviewed your short course, the 5-star icons will appear below the course title and qualitative reviews will appear at the bottom of the CDP.
- Find out more about ratings and reviews.
- Add up to 2 learner testimonials on any course.
- Review our guidance on using learner comments.
- To see this option, go to the ‘Edit course information’ button. Scroll to the bottom to the ‘Testimonials’ section.
- Clicking ‘Add testimonial’ will take you to a new view where you can add the detail of your testimonial. You will need to add the source (learner name) and their quote. You also have the option of adding a short descriptive phrase for the source (e.g. L&D Manager).
- Testimonials will then appear on the CDP for every run of the course.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
When you submit your course proposal our Copywriters conduct rigorous SEO research to ensure that your course has the best chance of attracting rankings, organic traffic (from Google), and enrolments.
SEO is a marketing practice and relates to improving the position of web pages on search engine results. We want your FutureLearn course to rank highly (appear towards the top) on Google. We follow SEO best practices and stay on top of the latest changes.
Our Copywriters determine what are the keywords in your course proposal and how they rank for SEO, this guides the structure and focus of the page. The course title, metadata, subheadings, and introduction are particularly important.
We never duplicate content from elsewhere online - this results in poor rankings. Every CDP is written specifically for your course and for our website. Find out more about SEO link building to help market your course.
The top of a CDP - showing title, intro sentence, course hours, weeks, image and price:
What topics will you cover?
Terminology on this page that you aren’t familiar with? Check out our glossary.
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