Family History Skills & Strategies (Intermediate) with Certificate

SOG / Pharos Certificate Course
From Pharos and the Society of Genealogists

An assessed programme of ten online genealogy courses to be completed within 36 months

Family History Skills and Strategies consists of five Pharos courses and five from the Society. This partnership brings to the Web a package of online courses for those who are looking for an in-depth course of study and who want to work under expert guidance, with assessment, towards a general certificate in English & Welsh genealogy at an intermediate level. The programme also makes these courses available individually with or without assessment.  

Students who have completed the course will be able to research with confidence online and in record offices using not only the record classes covered in the program, but also fundamental sources for 19th century research (census, civil registration and parish registers), which they are expected to have knowledge of before embarking on this programme. Students will be able to compile a pedigree of and research the history of a family in England & Wales from the 17th century to modern times.

In addition to learning about records content and access, you will be shown how to analyze information and to plan the next stages of your research. Throughout the programme there will be a theme of building practical skills and using historical and geographical context. At the end of the 10-course programme you will be prepared to develop into a competent researcher. After further experience, you will be ready to move to courses in advanced methodology.

The programme consists of the following online courses, ranging from 3 – 5 weeks in length. You may take any combination of courses without having to complete the whole programme, each course is designed to stand alone.

Click on the course title to read more detail about the course components, including start dates.   

The Certificate is available to those who successfully complete the full programme and assessments. The ten courses (also known as modules) run over about 24 months. Each course will be repeated at intervals so that you can choose when to start the programme and you may take as much as 36 months to complete the requirements for the certificate. It is possible to complete within 18 months if you have enough time available for more intensive study.

The assessment for each module will be made up of exercises within each lesson, a shorter and a longer assignment. Students are expected to contribute to the class forum and attend chat sessions.

Family History Skills and Strategies offers a broad range of topics, small classes, excellent teaching, and an opportunity for genealogists to improve and measure their research skills.  


How do I pay and reserve my place?

Pay for each module individually and aim to complete all the modules within  36 months. We recommend you pay and book each module well in advance of the start date or risk it being full. Use the links above to see the module prices and dates and pay for your first one now.  We cannot guarantee that prices of some modules will not rise in future.

Also use this method if you do not want to be assessed by choosing the unassessed price option of the individual modules.

>>See more about How Pharos Courses Work

>>Enquire Further about the programme

Real Questions Asked by Students:

Q. Will it be possible for participants to complete courses on their own time schedule?  
A. Yes. You can take the individual modules over an extended period of up to 3 years .

Q. Will we progress from one course to the next, in some defined order, or can they be started and/or taken at different times and in a random order?
A. The order you take them in is not vital, but we do recommend that you do 200 level courses before 300 level courses, and we recommend that '17th century sources' is taken towards the end.  You can find out more about course numbering here

Q. Can I take more than one course at a time?
A. It is not recommended that you try and do more than one course at a time unless you have more than 10 hours per week to devote to study.  Individuals vary, so if you feel you have the time, we will not prohibit you.


Q.  What sort of experience do I need before I start?
A.   You should have about two year's experience with family history and have used the England & Wales census, bought civil registration certificates, and have explored parish registers.  If you have reconstructed your family tree back to before 1841 (not just by using indexes or other people's trees online) then you will have built up the right experience.  If you have been to a local record office and used original documents, so much the better.

Q. Can I pay as I go?  
A. You can pay for each course by itself.  The courses are all listed on the Pharos website as stand alone courses.  You can take the modules over 36 months, meaning that the full price is paid as you take the modules.  Be aware that payment should be made in good time before a course starts or it may fill up.

Q. What form will the assignments for assessment be in?  
A. Each module will have an assessment which is designed to be practical – no long essay writing.  The aim is to teach you to be a competent researcher.  Assessments are marked and graded, so that you know how well you have done. The certificate has to mean something, and it is possible to fail. If you want more details about assessment, please contact us.

Q. If things get in the way of course work in our personal lives, will we have additional time to finish the required assignments?
A. We do recognize that “life” gets in the way of study from time to time and additional times to complete an assignment is worked through on a case by case basis with the course tutor.  Students must make sure their tutor knows if they need additional time.

Q. How do you plan to assess a participant’s level of progress in order to eventually grant a certificate?  Will there be a grade or will the certificate be issued just for completing the group of courses along with the assignments?
A. There will be a grade.  The certificate is not granted for just attending the class and completing the assessments. It is possible to fail.

Q. Will the certificate carry any standing in the professional community, for example with
AGRA ?  Will it be useful in seeking professional accreditation or certification?
A. The course is not a “qualification” in genealogy, nor is it recognized by
AGRA , or any other body, nevertheless, we will be working towards gaining respect for the course and its “graduates”. 

Q. I would like to know what the certificate level is - what does intermediate mean? Is it on par with GCSE's, ‘A’ levels or what?
A. The full programme has been adapted from the Society’s existing Intermediate course which is taught as an evening class.  Intermediate is meant as “not beginner” and yet not up to an advanced or degree level.  Most of the modules are taught at about ‘A’ level with elements at degree level.  If you have previously been on a Pharos course, you will be familiar with the general standard of the lesson information.  These modules are no different.

Q. Is it recognised with education bodies or just the SOG and Pharos?
A. The certificate is not recognized outside the Society of Genealogists and Pharos. However, it is taught with all the years’ of knowledge of the Society, the expertise of professional genealogists and qualified adult educators at its core.  We believe that it will come to be seen as a benchmark within the genealogy world.

Q. Will there be restrictions on class size?
A. Yes.  Class sizes are very unlikely to go above 30 per class. Most groups are smaller.

Q. I note you indicate that having completed these intermediate level courses that one might be “ready to move to courses in advanced methodology”.  Do you plan to offer such courses in a further certificate program? 
A. It is the plan of the Society and Pharos to progress to offering an advanced set of courses.  However, this will not happen immediately.

Q. Is it possible to use any other accreditation such as the credits I currently have with a university?
A. Sorry, no.

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