FutureLearn: A step in the Future 2021

FutureLearn: A step in the Future
Written by Medhaavi Mishra

FutureLearn is a UK-based online education provider that offers MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from top universities and institutions around the world. It currently has 175 partners, including many of the UK’s most prestigious universities. Non-university partners include Amnesty International and UNESCO. FutureLearn was launched in 2013 by the Open University, which has a long history of distance learning and online education. FutureLearn has around 1100 active online courses and is the world’s fifth most popular MOOC provider in terms of student numbers (over 15 million).

FutureLearn, like edX and Coursera, provides virtual, flexible, and less expensive access to top universities such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan, as well as brands and organisations such as Amnesty International and Samsung. 

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FutureLearn, like edX and Coursera, provides a variety of free courses, certificate programmes, and even degrees, allowing students to earn short-course credentials or work toward a less expensive master’s degree. As FutureLearn is based in the United Kingdom, many of the offerings include top British and international universities such as UCL, the University of Cape Town, the University of Oslo, and Hanyang University, among many others. This can provide you with more specialised coursework, such as a free course on how digital technologies affect our wellbeing from the University of York or a master’s degree in End of Life Studies from the University of Glasgow. 

Those who want to study outside of the US in the future can use FutureLearn’s courses to learn more about a specific school and its specialties before deciding whether or not to apply. The following table summarises the differences between FutureLearn courses and programmes (including cost). There were also some of FutureLearn’s most popular online classes included.

FutureLearn Courses

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FutureLearn offers a number of free short courses that you can enrol in and audit. The free version of the courses, on the other hand, has a five-week expiration date and does not include any tests, grades, or a certificate of completion. For most courses, you’ll need to upgrade to get unlimited access to the course materials as well as a certificate. 

It’s also worth noting that free auditing is not available for courses that are part of longer programmes. A few longer programmes, such as Exploring Culture and Heritage and UX Design and Research, allow you to audit individual courses for free. The only other free option is a seven-day ExpertTrack course trial, after which you’ll have to pay a $39 monthly fee to continue learning (similar to Coursera’s model).

Subjects offered by FutureLearn

Business and Management

FutureLearn offers a variety of online business and management courses that help an individual in developing his career with communication, networking and project management courses. In the Business and Management subject we get to choose from variety of topics and some of them are:

  • Big data & Analytics
  • Business ethics
  • Construction
  • Data Visualization 
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing and so on

Healthcare and Medicine Courses

FutureLearn offers courses to enhance patient care and discover the major healthcare issues. It helps us in the development of the vital skills, research and training in our professional development with its wide range of online healthcare courses. In the Healthcare & Medicine subject we get to choose from variety of topics and some of them are:

  • Anatomy
  • Care
  • Cancer
  • Genetics 
  • Coronavirus
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy and many more.


FutureLearn offers online education courses to enhance and support the teachers professional learning and development. It teaches the teachers on how to enhance teaching subjects like English as a foreign language or to try new approaches of teaching to new ways of assessment and behaviour management. In the Teaching subject we get to choose from variety of topics and some of them are:

  • How to teach online
  • Inclusive teaching
  • STEM teaching
  • Professional development for teachers
  • Language teaching.

This are only three which are the FutureLearn’s trending subjects and there are many more courses that futurelearn offers and that are:

How much do FutureLearn courses cost?

Depending on the course or programme you choose, FutureLearn coursework can cost anywhere from nothing to a little over $1000. (see below). Official master’s and graduate certificates that do not have a price are excluded.

Different Courses offered by FutureLearn

Following are the type of courses that are offered by FutureLearn:

Short Courses

Short courses are two- to four-week long one-time classes in a specific subject. To get a certificate, you simply need to pay to upgrade from the free version (and access to grades). If you pass the class, you will receive a certificate that you can include in your resume or LinkedIn profile. One of the benefits of short courses is that you can preview or audit the majority of them before enrolling or committing to a certificate.


ExpertTracks connects several short courses to provide more in-depth training in a topic like Python or fintech. They can last anywhere between eight and twenty-two weeks. They are free for a week, after which they cost $39 per month to continue learning, so the faster you finish them, the more money you save. Once you complete and pass an ExpertTrack, you’ll receive a digital certificate that you can share on LinkedIn or with potential employers.


Microcredentials are similar to ExpertTracks, but they focus more on developing in-demand skills and do not offer a free trial. They cost between $639 and $1,134, with the majority being under $1,000. 

There are a few academic programmes on FutureLearn that allow you to apply your paid certification for credit hours toward a master’s degree, such as Purdue University’s Digital Media Analytics (each programme has its own specifications).


Finally, FutureLearn offers a wide range of master’s degrees and graduate certificates online, with more flexibility than an on-campus university (for example, you can earn a degree from a UK school even if you don’t live in the UK). Tuition costs, on the other hand, are not listed; you’ll have to ask for more information about a specific programme to find out how much it costs.

FutureLearn Unlimited

FutureLearn, like Coursera Plus, offers a FutureLearn Unlimited annual subscription that grants you access to an unlimited number of short courses (including certificates of completion for each one you finish and pass). It costs $189.99 for a year and is a good option if you plan on taking a lot of short courses and want the flexibility to finish them on your own schedule. ExpertTracks, Microcredentials, and online degrees are not included in Unlimited.

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About the author

Medhaavi Mishra