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FutureLearn logo 2016.png
FutureLearn company logo
Type of site
Online education
Available in English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese
Owner The Open University
Website www.futurelearn.com
Commercial Yes
Registration Required
Launched December 2012
Current status Active

FutureLearn is a digital education platform founded in December 2012. It is a company launched and wholly owned by The Open University in Milton Keynes, England.[1][2] It is the first UK-led massive open online course (MOOC) learning platform, and as of January 2017 included 109 UK and international partners[3] and—unlike similar platforms—includes non-university partners such as: the British Museum, European Space Agency, the British Council, UCAS, UNESCO, Cancer Research UK, the National Film and Television School and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.[4]


FutureLearn was launched with 12 university partners, seeking those who "consistently rank at the top end of the…league tables".[5] The 12 founding partners are: The Open University, University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, Cardiff University, University of East Anglia, University of Exeter, King's College London, Lancaster University, University of Leeds, University of Southampton, St Andrews University, and University of Warwick.[6]

The launch was described as a move to 'fight back' and provide a space for UK institutions to engage in the MOOC space.[7] FutureLearn's CEO, Simon Nelson, previously worked at the BBC.[4]

Prior to the launch of FutureLearn few British universities had run online courses. Two (the University of Edinburgh and the University of London) had previously signed up to offer such courses through Coursera,[8][9] while The Open University had been publishing a variety of online courses through its OpenLearn platform since 2006, although these were designed for self-directed study rather than cohort learning.[10]


The following UK universities are partnered with FutureLearn (in alphabetical order):[3]

Non-UK university partners include:[3]

Non-university partners include:


FutureLearn's courses span a broad range of topics. The first course opened on 14 October 2013.[12] The first courses to be made available included "Web science: how the web is changing the world" (University of Southampton), "Introduction to ecosystems" (The Open University), "Improving your image: dental photography in practice" (University of Birmingham), "Causes of war" (King's College London), "The discovery of the Higgs boson" (University of Edinburgh), "Discover dentistry" (University of Sheffield), "Muslims in Britain: changes and challenges" (Cardiff University), "Begin programming: build your first mobile game" (University of Reading) and "England in the time of King Richard III" (University of Leicester). The first course to launch was "The secret power of brands", conducted by professor Robert Jones of the University of East Anglia.


  1. ^ Marszal, Andrew (14 December 2012). "UK universities to launch free degree-style online courses". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  2. ^ FutureLearn: About.
  3. ^ a b c "FutureLearn partners page". futurelearn.com. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "FutureLearn partners page". Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Parr, Chris (20 December 2012). "Futurelearn picks league table stars for debut line-up | General". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Marszal, Andrew (14 December 2012). "UK universities to launch free degree-style online courses". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Claire Shaw (20 December 2012). "FutureLearn is UK's chance to 'fight back', says OU vice-chancellor | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional". London: Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Parry, Marc (13 December 2012). "Leading British Universities Join New MOOC Venture - Wired Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Chronicle.com. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Anna Fazackerley (3 December 2012). "UK universities are wary of getting on board the mooc train | Education". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Open University launches OpenLearn". The Open University. The Open University. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Matthews, David (17 June 2013). "Monash, Trinity and Edinburgh join FutureLearn | News". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  12. ^ Parr, Chris (19 February 2013). "PM hails new arrivals to Futurelearn | News". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 

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