- help shape Course Description Page copy - including prerequisites from other topic areas which could be a barrier to success.
- support learners to identify courses most relevant to their needs
- help confirm content suitability during Quality Assurance
- are (for short courses) used for internal purposes only but may feed into learner-facing product work.
Top tips for identifying course levels
- Identify your main target learner. Create courses that meet their needs, and where success is realistic and achievable. Identifying their level is just part of this - ask your Partnership Manager about signing up to How to Create A Great FutureLearn course for more information.
- Consider pathway or learning journey. What learning comes before or after your course? Picture how a learner arrives at your course and what they’ll do next (on/off FutureLearn) to help gauge course level.
- Clarify prerequisites for learners. These may come from other topic areas. A course may be introductory to data science but require a certain non-introductory level of maths or familiarity with coding.
- Distinguish between open and introductory courses. Introductory-level courses carry a clearer connection to a pathway or learning journey - there is generally an expectation that the learner can build on their learning in terms of complexity or challenge(see below).
- Refer to your stated level during course development. You may find that when you’ve developed long form content you wish to alter your stated level. You can confirm the level when you submit your course for Quality Assurance.
Below are explanations of the four short course levels.
- Course ethos: Suitable for anyone with an interest in the course topic or subject regardless of educational or professional background or experience. Cover contemporary or newsworthy topics, topics that centre around opinion or lived experience or share timely information.
- Learner motivations/background: Learners are simply drawn to the topic area.
- Prerequisites: Unlikely to have any prerequisites beyond an interest in the topic area. See below for key differences between introductory level and open level courses.
- Course content: Tend to emphasise communication, embrace subjectivity and personal reflection. Tasks and discussion prompts can offer a choice in how to engage with the topic.
- Course ethos: No prior experience or familiarity with the course topic or subject required.
- Learner motivations/background: Learners on introductory courses may be brand new to the topic area or it's been some time since they have engaged with the subject matter. Learners will typically take introductory courses if they have a personal interest in the subject or are at the early stages of considering study options or a career change.
- Prerequisites: Require no prior subject-specific knowledge or familiarity with topic-specific jargon, terminology, or techniques. May require familiarity or skills from other areas.
- Course content: Learners may require support to engage and progress through the inclusion of definitions, glossaries, and more controlled/structured tasks. Tasks and discussion prompts may be suitably differentiated to offer a choice in how to engage with the topic.
- Course ethos: Familiarity with core principles or some topic experience required. Offer increased level of challenge or depth of exploration to learners secure in their grasp of topic fundamentals or core principles.
- Learner motivations/background: Learners are typically looking to update, consolidate or expand on existing knowledge or skills having engaged through experience, training or qualifications. or maybe looking for a transition from a related subject or industry. They are likely to form part of a clear professional, academic, or leisure-learning trajectory or pathway.
- Prerequisites: Must clearly set out prerequisites from connected courses in the topic pathway as well as from other topic areas which may be necessary.
- Course content: Where appropriate opportunities to engage more creatively or productively with course content should be included - but this may be supported with examples, templates, models, or detailed breakdowns/feedback from educators.
- Course ethos: Offer a significant challenge to learners wishing to build on their existing learning and experience.
- Learner motivations/background: Have recent work or study experience and maybe working or learning in a related field. They will be familiar with terminology and techniques related to the subjects or topics. Learners are looking to enhance their expertise, knowledge, and skills through a structured course. They may be interested in specialising in a more focused aspect of a topic or subject.
- Prerequisites: Must clearly set out prerequisites from connected courses in the topic pathway as well as prerequisites from other topic areas which may be necessary
- Course content: Where appropriate, opportunities for extension of learning through supplied readings or more productive/creative tasks should be included. Advanced courses may include a freer application of learning.
Terminology on this page that you aren’t familiar with? Check out our glossary