The best genealogy courses available now

We pick the best online and correspondence courses to help you grow your family history skills from home

A lesson on 'Hitlerism and democracy' at Cheadle High School, 1939

It’s easy to start your family tree online using guidance on our website and other helpful resources. However, as you get more into family history, you may want to take a course to help you develop new family history skills. Luckily, there are plenty of expert-led online and correspondence courses out there. While the coronavirus lockdown continues to limit where we can go and what we can do, it’s the perfect opportunity to grow your family history skills from a computer with one of these upcoming courses.

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Pharos Tutors

Pharos Tutors are specialists in online family history education. They were established in 2006 and now offer over 40 courses, with former tutor Dr Karen Cummings recently taking over as the new owner. They offer anytime courses on topics including beginning your family tree and inspiring children’s interest in family history (prices range from £19.99 to £45.99). Upcoming online courses include ‘Researching in Archives for Advanced Genealogists’ (starts 29 September, four weeks, unassessed cost £62 or assessed cost £76) and ‘Researching in Archives for Advanced Genealogists’ (starts 29 September, four weeks, unassessed cost £62 or assessed cost £76).

Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies

The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (IHGS) is an independent charitable trust dedicated to family history and genealogy education and research. They offer a range of correspondence courses which can be done from home at your own pace. There is ‘The Correspondence Course in Genealogy’; three levels of course for beginner, intermediate and advanced students; an online course in heraldry; and a special ‘Tracing Your British Ancestors from Overseas’ course for researchers living outside Britain. Prices vary from £150 to £2340.

Society of Genealogists

The London-based Society of Genealogists is Britain’s leading family history society. It offers a Stage 1 Family History Evening Skills Course, covering records and search techniques for beginners. It begins on 10 September and lasts for 13 weeks, price £225 or £180 for SoG members. Stage 2 of the course will be held at a later date. For those interested in DNA testing there is also DNA Studies Through Case Studies, a three-day intensive course starting on 8 September (£220 or £176 for members).

University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde specialises in genealogy courses for adult learners, with a choice of five 8-week courses: ‘Family History Research: An Introduction’; ‘Family History Research: Beyond the Basics’; ‘Using Technology in Your Family History Research’; ‘Genetic Genealogy: An Introduction’ and ‘Understanding Autosomal DNA Testing for Genealogy’. Each course costs £176 and starts on 5 October. Registration opens 24 August.

Gill Blanchard

Author, professional genealogist and Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine contributor Gill Blanchard offers a 15-week course on Tracing A House History (starts 10 October). £150 each.

Celia Heritage

Celia Heritage is another author, professional genealogist and Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine contributor who offers a range of courses from a one-off video tutorial on using wills for £12.99 to her complete 7-module family history e-course for £299.

Professional qualifications

If you are a keen and experienced family historian, you may well have thought about setting up a business as a professional genealogist. There is no one qualification for becoming a professional genealogist. However, if you wish to join the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), the professional body for genealogists in the UK, passing one of the following qualifications will grant you exemption from some aspects of the AGRA membership assessment process:

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• The IHGS Higher Certificate & Diploma in Genealogy
• The University of Strathclyde Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical, Paleographic and Heraldic Studies
• Pharos Tutors Family History Skills & Strategies (Advanced) Distance Learning Course (run in association with the SoG)
• The University of Dundee Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and Masters in Family and Local History