How to choose the right online course for you

In this post get some tips and tricks for choosing the right online course for you.

It’s really important to find the right online course for you. Starting a course that doesn’t suit you can quickly put you off learning and knock your confidence. But when there are thousands of online courses, how can you choose just one?

Here’s some simple advice you can follow to find the course that’s a good fit for you.

1. Decide your own criteria

Step one is deciding what you want from a course. Do you want a course to improve your skills for work? Or a course that is endorsed by a professional body? Or maybe a course just to pass the time? Maybe you know which topic you want to study, or maybe you don’t.

Before you start looking for a course, try to establish exactly what you want or need from it. Try and answer these questions:

  • Are you learning for work or for fun?
  • How long can you spend learning a week?
  • Are you looking to develop a specific skill, if so, what is it?
  • What topics are you especially interested in?

Graphic of binoculars

2. Spend some time exploring

Now you have a clearer idea of what you need from a course, spend some time browsing courses. On FutureLearn you might want to look through our category pages, or if you know the topic or area you’re interested in, you might want to search directly. Choose courses that match as many of your criteria as possible.

If you find several courses that meet your criteria, don’t worry. Open up each course page and then…

Graphic of a magnifying glass

3. Read the course description(s) thoroughly

This step is one of the most important. Take some time to read all course descriptions thoroughly, making sure you understand what the course is about, what’s on the syllabus and what you’ll learn by the end of the course.

It’s also important at this point to find out exactly who the course is for, so you can ensure it’s the right level for you. On FutureLearn we have a wide range of courses – from those for people with no experience of a subject to those for people who are already working in the field. You don’t want to end up on a course which doesn’t match your experience.

Graphic of a laptop

4. Narrow down your choices using your criteria

After you’re familiar with what the courses cover and who they’re for, you need to check them against the criteria you set out in step one. Which course best meets your needs?

If you find you have a few courses that meet the criteria, you will need to judge whether you have the time to join and keep up with all of them. If you don’t think you can, you can always bookmark them to start later (most courses on FutureLearn run multiple times a year) or upgrade a course, to get ongoing access to it.

Graphic of a graduate cap

5. Start learning!

You’ve browsed, you’ve read the small print, you’ve checked the criteria and, if it’s all gone to plan, you should have a course lined up. The only thing left to do is get started!

If the course doesn’t start for a little while, add a reminder to your calendar or make a note in your diary, so you’re ready when it does start.

Category Learning

Comments (103)


  • johnson

    i would like to learn about BLS

  • myriam palmer

    object : Learn about the weather started today
    Do you plan to repeat the above course later on during the year? My spouse and I are both interested in the topic but lack adequate sparetime at the moment. Love to know therefore. Kind regards. MP 4.03.19

  • Pat

    I am interested in the history and cultures of Asian and Southern American countries.
    FL does not seem to have any more courses on these subjects.
    The last one on Chinese Culture was nothing more than Beijing government propaganda.
    The course on Japanese culture never materialised, and that on the European Discovery of China was wonderful, but then no more.

  • Abdikadir

    In fact I would like to learn biomedical engineering because I have bachelor of science with a major of biomedical engineering that I obtained from Atlantic international university in USA through distance learning
    So I need to learn more about its’ practical courses to become biomedical engineer insha allah
    Yours sincerely
    Kismayo Somalia

  • Magdalena

    I would like to learn Mandarin Chinese.

  • Heather

    I would like to learn Advertising and Marketing relating to the medical profession.


    I would like to learn english language kind of basic grammar level upto high level, writting & spoken skill also

  • Hrafnindur Tembo

    I would like to study Public Administration

  • Faith

    I would like to learn I.T courses

  • Andrew

    I would like to learn tourism courses

  • Ameliya

    I would like to learn English.

  • Martha Manjimela

    I want a course related to primary education

  • Maryam Sodique Adeniran

    I want a course about discipline; managing behaviour in secondary school

  • Anne McCaffrey

    Would like to learn basic Russian in the Cyrillic alphabet. Thanks.

  • Amanda-Marie Newman

    Do you have any course relating to museums or how to successfully get a job (son)?

  • Nermeen

    I would like to learn French language.

  • May

    I would like to learn about Early Childhood education.

  • Huỳnh Hồng Mai

    I would like to learn about Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity management .
    Please help me.
    Thank you


    Would like to know when starts the ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEW COURSE..??

  • Ishmael Kamara

    I want to learn, and have more knowledge about clinical research, epidemology and some basic public health background. My regard

  • Waseem Michael Adam

    I want to equalize my certificate (electrical engineer/specialist in electronics & communications) from university of Mosul in Iraq with the certificate of well-known university in UK by online examinations if it’s possible.

  • Zhanna


  • Ephraim Selasie Yawlui

    occupational health and safety is what I want to learn. Any help available for me?

  • Samuel Mamza

    I wanna learn Spanish & German

  • Elsadig Imam

    I wanna study Spanish Language

  • Momodou sowe

    I want to study

    • Momodou sowe


  • Dr.Muhammad Arif Rana

    I would like to request to respected future learn to remind me about successfully completion of my 25 online distance home based education training and it’s total cost of certificates/transcripts due to professional information about courses towards human resources and human life development.
    With kind regards.
    Dr.Muhammad Arif Rana
    December 02-2018-Tuesday-08:04 PM.

  • Ahmad mahamoud ali

    so reading very lessan

  • Doug Niel

    These are great tips. As I have started to take more courses I have become better at narrowing my own criteria. I have been using a rubric I found on this blog post:

    It does a good job of helping me organize what is really important before I move to step 5!

  • Tatiana

    I can’t fìnd Italian2 Vivace . Please, help!

  • Sonam Pelden

    Just started using future learn so I’m super confused right now….kindly of overwhelmed :p have no idea where to start from!!

  • Lydia

    Very useful and at the right moment, 20 studnts are going to start English courses but some of them are at a loss which one to join. Thanks, you are helpful as usual!

  • ndeye fatou FALL

    if possible I would like to start again with FUTURELEARN


    I’m learning.

    • said mursal

      i’m learning this course, if possible i would start

  • Kaputula Watson

    Good enough & clear. I want to enroll for my second course with future learn..I feel very motivated after the first course with you on setting up district eye care team (cataract & comprehensive community eye care screening)
    Thanks future Learn

  • Maria

    I have found FutureLearn through research and I’m sooo happy to have found you!! I am very excited to have started a class and am ready to get on the next one!

    Thank you to FutureLearn and Glasgow for these opportunities!!


  • catherine chisunkha

    Thank you future learners …I would like more courses on cancer

  • Lê Tươi

    I really like with many people because everybody will help me study!!

  • Waleeda

    I love to learn guidance and councellin.thank for your support.

  • Abida Chohan

    Thanks.Now it’s very easy to choose a course.I’ll be with you early with my fourth course of future learn.

  • Ingyinn Oo

    I like to study about public health.

  • Maia Kratsashvili

    Thank you for great advice. It was very helpful to me. There is so many interesting courses and we don’t know what to start from… This way we get the real chance to meet our goal, to start and get it done.

  • Gilson

    I’ d like something about parasitology or Trypanosoma cruzi, in particular. There could be also courses about biostatistics to help me understand my research results. Thank you.

  • Mohamed ali

    Wonderful thank u

  • Mohamed ali

    It is very clear and beneficial explanation

  • Philip Neale

    suspect as usual this a no reply service
    From the ” old gits parade” appraoching retirement:
    Nothing here I can see for continued education along the horticultural side. ( growing food)
    UK Royal Horticultrial Society RHS courses are so expensive Couldnt there be primer ? Those latin names.

  • Maria

    Thank you Future learn! This education opportunity is wonderful.

    I would like to improve my English skills learning from Tourism, Events management and public relations topics. Also, to learn skills to become an English teacher as a second language for kids.

  • Fazeelat

    I would like to improve my english because I want to clear my ilets exam.

    • Sonam Pelden

      @Faze elated hey, same pinch 🙂 I was planning to do the same ^^

  • Kosoko Grace Omobolaji

    Yes.. thank you very much.. I will like to take a course in Mass communication.

  • Igiraneza

    I need to learn Spanish from the beginning, can I have a course about it?

  • Giuliana

    I’d like to improve my english language (level b1) . I want to learn Whit course about modern and contemporaney history.

    • Gladys

      I would like to improve my english skills and know about estrategies for teaching it.

  • Chityi Mon

    I ‘d like to learn a course about teaching for children.Moreover I’d like to improve my English skills.

  • Maria Concetta Randazzo

    I joined in a course about British culture and I subscribed for the certificate which I haven’t received yet.
    Another course which I would like to do, could be one about CLIL methodology .

  • Laura Del Carmen Sánchez

    I would to study something about medieval or renaisance history. About food, society, politics, arts, religion and dead. Thanks.

    • rita tingle

      I would a course on medieval history.

  • Maria Concetta Randazzo

    I’d like to a course for C2 language certification

  • Patricia Frankel

    Hello – I wanted to enrol for the course on “Falls” which starts at the beginning of September but had a problem logging in to register.
    any suggestions?

  • Rebecca Damasceno Souza

    Sometimes I choose a course I’m totally ignorant about the subject, even though I don’t like that.
    It helps me open my mind.

  • Anne Kember

    I would like to see some courses on English 15/16 century history

  • Anna

    Thank you for so helpful site. I’d like to improve technical English language studying about aircraft, aviation and engineering.

  • Lisa Cotter

    Start with what you enjoy without certification, learn just for the love of it and for practice especially if there is a learning gap. Aim for a reasonable learning curve, progress to certification and build confidence. Happy lifelong learning!

    • Rebecca Damasceno Souza

      I agree with you, Lisa.

  • Graham

    French language like the futurelearn courses for Italian and Spanish. Also, pure mathematics.

  • Dorothy Appie

    These tips are very helpful.
    Thank you; i would like to continue with getting care right for children.

  • Dorothy Appie

    These are very helpful tips; i would like to continue with a course that is in line with the work that i do. Getting care right for children.

  • libardo rojas

    love courses about foreign languages… I´m waiting for italian intermediate course

  • Jacqui

    Anything on house design and architecture, design and build your own home. There are a lot of TV shows about build your own…. Understanding best practice for room layout and why this is. Eco friendly and sustainable building.

  • Marian de Keijzer

    My favorite courses are astronomy, medical courses , history and biology.I did some spanish courses as well.They were good.I like the Futurelearn courses because they are good and clear.Well presented.When I have to drop out is has to do with technical problems with the computer or personal unexpected events. The time set for a course is oké.Mostly the courses are not too easy ,but also not too difficult.

  • julia hammond

    I live in France for most of the year so a course in French on a similar course to the Italian one would be great and how about The wonderful world of Art and Artists,painting ,sculpture and so on.Thank you.

  • Dan Hkawng

    English literature

  • Kathleen Jones

    I have found the lEnglish literature courses extremely good. So well presented and varied.

  • Betty Allison

    I started the ‘Richard 111’ series – and have reluctantly dropped out – it is too much. Each week’s lecture could fill a course (3hours!) – I got indigestion – it is very interesting period. Maybe I’ll come back to it sometime and tackle it in smaller doses. I am one of your followers that enjoys a wide variety of subjects – the forensics, and medicals are very interesting.and can be followed up/or not at leisure.

  • toby myers

    how about a class on fire alarms and suppression systems considering the London fire it seems there are a lot of folks that could benefit from one. I am a NICET level IV fire alarm tech and would be glad to help.

  • Emmanuel

    Honestly, FutureLearn is doing an amazing job! First of all, the lay out of steps, videos, assessments, comments are awesone and the website is highly user-friendly which is the most important. And FutureLearn made it clear that the money collected for certificates is to keep FutureLearn running which is alright. Moreover, there are several courses that earns you credits for further learning in the institutions providing them, most especially in the Program section.
    I’m very confident that FutureLearn is working real hard to make the site much more effective and efficient for all learners and will soon bring up better ways to suit the satisfaction of all learners.
    Thank you FutureLearn, I’m very grateful.

  • Allison de Knegt

    I would like to see a course on comparative religions, where the major religions are discussed and compared for similarities and factors that led to their growth.

  • Francis Macauley

    developing your research project. Thank you.

  • Wivine Lane

    I have undertaken quite a few courses with FL since it started up and have enjoyed them all.
    However, since data protection has now become immensely important for companies to be compliant and possibly get certificated for ISO27000, I would like to study this matter further. unfortunately I can’t find any courses towards General Data Protection Regulation. The only course, I have found and completed was Cyber Security.
    Is this area being considered?

  • thetlwinoo

    i am working at ecd.

  • Kay

    It would be helpful from my perspective if it was possible to search on length of course and also on hours per week. However, I have found that the courses I have done vary widely in the hours required to complete the tasks.

    • Jacqui

      I quite agree Kay. The course title could show the weeks/hours next to the title. I have had to create a list of the courses I am interested in to show this information. This would help people to organise a timeline for their courses.

  • Colin Wright

    Are their any courses on Adult ADHD, as I have ADHD myself and I want to learn as much as possible which will enable me to help others.

    Kind regards

    C Wright

  • Shona MacIver

    I would like higher levels of the courses I have done so that I feel I am moving forward in the fields I have chosen. I’m not particularly interested in getting higher academic qualifications, although a certificate is a satisfying end to a course but I would like to raise the content bar a little.

  • Sheila

    Some Theology and/or biblical studio courses would be good 🙂

  • Yaya

    Thanks for these infos. Now I’m able to plan what I need to learn.

  • Zaher

    Thanks for the useful tips , I have done accordingly and now it is enjoyable for me to keep up withe the courses I am intrested in.

  • Barry Lowden

    Am waiting for course start on; Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books.
    Would join other oriental studies (esp. Japanese Culture) as they appear.

  • Donna

    I love FutureLearn and have taken many courses. You provide a wonderful service – especially for those of us living on a fixed income who cannot necessarily afford to pay for the privilege of learning. However, I do miss the original FutureLearn that allowed unlimited access to courses previously taken. Rarely do I learn all there is to learn while taking a course and the ability to go back and reread lessons at a later date was invaluable. Is there a reason why you stopped allowing learners to do that?

  • Margot Wright

    Would it be possible to use key words to select a course, rather than having to look through all of the courses that are in a particular category?

  • Judith

    It seems to me that Future Learn has drifted away from its original objective of providing free on line learning without time limits and without financial outlay.

    • Stephanie

      I agree. I’m somewhat new to Future Learn, and I have to admit that when I began, I was a case of ‘eyes are bigger than stomach’. I took too many courses and I had forgotten that studying something on line is much different than going to a class.While I’ve finally been able to limit myself to one course at a time, now I find that I can only have a limited time in each course, and unless I pay, I can’t take any tests. I suppose that’s ok for someone like myself, who studies for enjoyment, but what of those who need these courses but haven’t the time to spend or the money? I had been studying Japanese Culture through Rare Books, and I found it so very interesting, but I had commitments that I had to deal with that lay outside that course – and I was unable to finish. Oh Future Learn – you are indeed stealing my sunshine!

      • julia hammond

        I am afraid I hated school as I was pretty much at the bottom of the class but I loved Future learn as I could actually learn about things I never thought I would be able to and have wounderful teachers encouraging you to give things ago but the best thing was that I could just do the bits I was interseted in or the whole course but best of all I could do it in my own time…….sadly not any more.
        Two years ago I caught a virus which has made me alittle slow and affected my memory so sometimesI might just read through a course and then sign on again for that same course.I hope to get there in the end and actually complete all my favourite courses as I recover from my illness. This has now become difficult as access to the course has now stopped and now payments that I cannot afford is asked for…..So I will just keep repeating until I reach my goal.

  • Gillian Seager

    I really was interested in the Come Rain or Shine, but I just could not understand it and in the end I decided to leave the course. I have never done this before, but felt so relieved afterwards.
    I have two History courses that i hope to take after my holiday.

  • Leah

    Thanks for the tips. I know I tend to “geek out” when I see all the courses on offer, so using a checklist to narrow down the choice is a good idea. Also being realistic about how much time you can set aside for learning, rather than signing up for too much and finding you can’t get through it all.

    I think it would also be helpful to have a clear indication in the listing for each course about whether any previous knowledge/experience in that area is necessary. I recently signed up for a course and, after taking the time to introduce myself and reply to others in the initial discussion thread, I found that the very first activity involved a long and complex case study which seemed pretty impenetrable to someone who didn’t already have specialist knowledge on the topic. Nothing wrong with specialist courses for CPD etc, but they should be flagged as such!

    • Fiona

      I agree – it would be quite handy if there were a level system – beginner, standard, advanced or similar or a banner that flagged as CPD or extensive prior knowledge required. I’ve also signed up for courses thinking it would be at a normal level ie accessible to both new and existing students but it been super basic which is why if like a rating system. It wouldn’t be foolproof but it would help as this often seems to be missing from a course description.

  • Jessica

    I do enjoy those courses learning, but sometimes it feels hard for me to continue, because the course is what I interested, but the topic or the work is hard to finish. and maybe my ability didn’t reach that level yet.

  • john wild

    I have taken quite a few fl courses over the past couple of years and have learn’t much. I know the subject areas that interest me and that will help me in my chosen fields international relations and the causes and consequences of war/pece syudies. Perhaps it might help if once you have registered for a course some suggested reading would be useful.

  • Ash Steve Guffman

    I believe that the Futurelearn is doing remarkably well; however, I think, it’s the time for Futurelearn to bring a sense of belonging and a sense of a real education to those who are thirsty for education; but due to their weak financial- power can’t progress further. I believe that Futurelearn can do better than this, by the means of bringing real affordable education to people who wish to progress further, and not just a mere courses and qualification of achievements which are not workable in the real world. It won’t harm the educational institutions to bush the boundaries and allow people to enjoy the privilege of a better education to obtain some kind of qualifications to progress further in their career and lifestyle. Why not? Instead of selling the course with £60.00., the Futurelearn organization, can cooperate with those who supply the courses and courses’ materials, and possibly, seek an extra demand for its courses, but rather extreme! And perhaps. the Open University and other institutions can provide a real courses with less money in order to make life enjoyable for everyone.

    • Brenda Young

      I agree with John for the most part. I’m an avid fan of Future Learn and I tell everyone who is interested in self directed learning how valuable it is because it’s free ( except for the cost of the certificate). But I’ve just completed the crime and punishment course from York and I’m very disappointed. Most courses have unlimited access, which I realise can be an issue because money is made from the purchase of the certificate. So unlimited access does mean certificates may be purchased later or maybe not at all. However York has taken this issue to a whole new level by limiting access to the course and locking access to the assessment tests. This results in the students not being able to complete the course without paying the £49 upgrade fee. I really misunderstand the information given by York until I was well into the course. I thought like some other courses extra tests were available to qualify for the Certificate of Achievement but no I order to complete the course you have to upgrade. Do the academics realise how frustrating it is to be prevented from completing courses…I have completed 97% but in order to complete 100% I have to pay the upgrade fee.That’s unethical!