In this article we'll cover
Study for free with limited access
It is free to join and study most FutureLearn short courses by choosing the 'join with limited access' option.
Learners have the option to pay to upgrade a free course for some additional benefits.
If you choose to join a course via the limited access option, you’ll have access for the duration of the course, even if you join after the course opens.
You can see when access to your courses expires on Your Courses.
If you see a padlock symbol (see below screenshot for an example) when you try to go to the next week of your course then you have limited weekly access to that course. This means you have to follow the course schedule, with content unlocking week-by-week.
[Image description: A screenshot of the course view on week 2 of an example course, with a padlock symbol highlighted in the left-hand navigation panel]
Upgrade a course for additional benefits
You can buy an upgrade (also called 'buy this course') at any point before, during or after the course - there's no deadline. When you upgrade you can:
- Access all of the course materials from each week of the course straight away
- Learn at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn
- Prove your knowledge with tests, if the course has them
- Demonstrate what you’ve learnt with a digital and printed certificate as long as you meet the eligibility requirements (Please note, printed certificates are only available with purchase of an upgrade or a Premium course).
If you'd like additional benefits on more than one course, then you might be interested in Unlimited, which gives you benefits on hundreds of courses. You can read more about how it works in our article on Unlimited.
While most of our courses are offered with an option to learn for free, some are only offered on a paid-for basis. These courses are designed for professionals looking to advance their careers and learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals. Categories covered include:
- Business and management
- IT and digital skills
This lets us add new courses that we haven’t been able to in the past because they include content that we and our partners can’t make available for free. We also want to offer courses that provide a different kind of social experience for professionals, where discussion takes place in smaller groups with more hands-on support.
If you pay to join a Premium course this includes the cost of a printed + digital certificate (issued once the course has been completed in full), long-term access to the course itself, and full access to all course materials as soon as you join the course.
Courses which ran before upgrading
You can only upgrade course runs that began after 6 March 2017.
If you joined a course before that date, you’ll still be able to access the material and take any tests in the course.
Please note that as of May 2021, it is no longer possible to purchase certificates from courses that ran before upgrading became available.