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Try before you buy with a MOOC

Starting a postgraduate degree is a great opportunity to completely change direction, not just in your educational journey but your career as well. But how can you know what you will be good at or what you will enjoy the most?

Doing a postgraduate degree is a big commitment – both financially and time-wise. So you don’t want to end up regretting your choice.

That’s where MOOCs come in. Never heard of MOOCs? Don’t worry, read on to find out all about them…

What Is a MOOC?

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. They are courses that you can study for online and many of them are free (or low-cost), allowing you to learn new skills and knowledge, or try out different career paths without the massive commitment.

There are thousands of MOOCs available and they come is a range of shapes and sizes. They range from short courses, right up to Master’s degree level and cover topics as varied as Python Programming to Spanish, Analytical Chemistry to Microeconomics, and Creative Writing to Critical Thinking.

As they are delivered online, they are open to large numbers of students from across the globe, hence the name ‘Massive’.

How Much Does It Cost to Study a MOOC?

As mentioned, most MOOCs are free to study. However, some higher (degree) level courses might have a fee attached. Others allow you to learn for free but charge a fee for the final test and course certificate processing.

Where Can You Study MOOCs?

In the UK, most MOOCs are run through Future Learn. They are jointly owned by The Open University and have hundreds of courses, ranging from short courses right up to degree level.

Other MOOC listing sites include:


Founded by Harvard and MIT universities in the US, this platform has been providing free and low-cost courses – both standalone short courses and university ‘micro-masters’ programs.


A listing site that lists over 10,000 MOOCs from across 550 institutions across the world. Courses are provided in a range of languages, including English, French and Chinese.


Another listing website, with thousands of free and low-cost courses available online. They offer ‘MasterTrack Certificates’ where portions of Master’s courses have been split in to online modules.

Are MOOCs any Good?

Just because MOOCs are (for the most part) free, doesn’t mean they aren’t good quality. Future Learn, for example, partners with top universities worldwide, including:

Coventry University
University of Glasgow
Anglia Ruskin University
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
University of Leeds
University of Edinburgh
Newcastle University

Plus many more…

These short courses offered by the uni’s will give you a taste of your area of interest – you can see if you really like it and can commit to studying it at full Masters or PhD level.

What have you got to lose? Try a MOOC for yourself.


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