The Family History Skills and Strategies (FHSS) Intermediate Certificate is the first of two certificate programmes, developed and taught jointly by Pharos and the Society of Genealogists. This partnership brings packages of courses online for those who are looking for an in-depth course of study and who want to work under expert guidance, with assessment, in English & Welsh genealogy.
There are ten courses within the Intermediate Certificate programme:
17th Century Sources (382)
Apprenticeship Records (281)
Before the Modern Census - Name-rich sources from 1690 to 1837 (381)
Building on a Solid Foundation – Genealogy Methods and Techniques (204)
Employment Records (380)
Nonconformity - Its Records and History 1600 - 1950 (280)
Recording the Poor - From Parish to Workhouse and beyond (203)
Victorian Crime and Punishment- Courts, police and prisons (308)
Wills and Administrations; the riches of probate records (205)
Your Military Ancestors (224)
IMPORTANT UPDATE: In June 2021 the Migration in the British Isles course was replaced by Building on a Solid Foundation – Genealogy Methods and Techniques course in the Intermediate Certificate programme. If you have already taken the Migration course you DO NOT NEED to take the Building on a Solid Foundation as well, to achieve the Intermediate Certificate (though, you are quite welcome to take it as an additional course).
You can take the ten courses in any order you choose, selecting the course dates that best work for you. However, the courses numbered in the 200s tend to be less challenging than the 300 series courses, so we suggest you take the 200 series courses (or at least a couple of them) first.
You have up to three years to complete all ten courses. It is, however, possible to complete all ten courses in eighteen months, without taking more than one course at a time, if you have plenty of time for study. Some suggestions on scheduling courses are given further down this page. On successful completion of all ten courses at a satisfactory standard, you will be awarded the Family History Skills and Strategies (Intermediate) Certificate.
Throughout the programme there is a theme of building practical skills and using historical and geographical context. In addition to learning about record content and access, you will be shown how to analyse information and to plan the next stages of your research. At the end of the programme you will be able to research with confidence online and in record offices and be able to compile a pedigree of and research the history of a family in England & Wales from the 17th century to modern times.
You can also enrol for any of these courses separately, outside of the certificate programme and choose whether to be assessed.
The assessment for each certificate programme course will be made up of weekly lesson exercises, participation in weekly chat sessions with your tutor and two assignments at the end of each course. You should allow time at the end of each course to work on assignments, deadlines are typically two weeks after the course ends.
There are no formal qualifications required to sign up for the FHSS Intermediate Certificate programme. However, this is not a beginner’s programme of courses: students are expected to have good knowledge and practical experience of working with the fundamental sources for 19th century research (the censuses, civil registration and parish registers) before embarking on this study programme.
If you are in any doubt, we recommend all students take the following Anytime courses to make sure your skills are up to speed:
We are often asked about the fastest route to achieving the certificate. Here are two fast track plans that can enable completion in around eighteen months, without taking more than one course at a time. Please note that course dates and the running order are subject to change.
Wills and Administrations; the riches of probate records (205) SEP
Nonconformity – Its Records and History 1600 – 1950 (280) OCT
Apprenticeship Records (281) JAN
Victorian Crime and Punishment – Courts, police and prisons (308) FEB
Recording the Poor – From Parish to Workhouse and beyond (203) APR
Your Military Ancestors (224) JUN
Before the Modern Census – Name-rich sources from 1690 to 1837 (381) JUL
Building on a Solid Foundation – Genealogy Methods and Techniques (204) SEP
17th Century Sources (382) OCT
Employment Records (380) JAN
Building on a Solid Foundation – Genealogy Methods and Techniques (204) JAN
Wills and Administrations; the riches of probate records (205) FEB
Nonconformity – Its Records and History 1600 – 1950 (280) APR
Victorian Crime and Punishment – Courts, police and prisons (308) JUN
Recording the Poor – From Parish to Workhouse and beyond (203) AUG
Your Military Ancestors (224) OCT
Apprenticeship Records (281) JAN
Before the Modern Census – Name-rich sources from 1690 to 1837 (381) MAR
17th Century Sources (382) APR
Employment Records (380) JUN
How do I pay and reserve my place?
As soon as you pay for your first course you will be flagged on our system as a potential certificate programme student and there is no need to tell us of your intention to sit all ten courses. We recommend you pay and book each course well in advance of the start date or risk it being full. Use the links above to see the course prices and dates and pay for your first one now. We cannot guarantee that prices of courses will not rise in future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does the certificate carry any standing in the professional community, for example with AGRA? Will it be useful in seeking professional accreditation or certification?
A. YES! Taking the Intermediate Certificate is the first step towards accreditation. Those who pass the Intermediate Certificate with sufficient marks will be eligible for the Advanced Certificate programme. The Advanced Certificate is recognised by AGRA as part of their membership application processes. You can read more about this here: Join AGRA.
Q. Can I complete the courses on my own time schedule?
A. Yes. You can take the individual courses over a period of up to 36 months. However, each course has set start dates and deadlines for work to be completed (typically two weeks after the course ends).
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 recommend that you do 200 level courses before 300 level courses, and we recommend that the “17th century sources” course is taken towards the end.
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 stop you.
Q. Can I pay as I go?
A. Yes. You pay for each course by itself. The courses are all listed on the Pharos website as stand-alone courses. You can take the courses over 36 months, meaning that the full price is paid as you take the courses. Be aware that payment should be made in good time before a course starts or it may fill up. Prices are not guaranteed and may rise.
Q. Can I reserve a place on all the courses in advance?
A. Unfortunately, we cannot take advance bookings without payment. The only way to reserve a place on each course is to pay for it. If dates for some courses are unavailable, then it will not be possible to reserve a place for the future until new dates become available.
Q. What form will the assignments for assessment be in?
A. Each course has two assignments as well as short answer forum exercises which are designed to be practical. Courses vary a little, some have shorter answer questions, others require a longer piece of prose writing, for example to research and write a short biography of someone. The aim is to teach you to be a competent researcher. Assessments are graded, so that you know how well you have done. You should allow time at the end of each course to work on assignments, deadlines are typically two weeks after the course ends.
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 recognise that life gets in the way of study from time to time and the granting of additional time to complete an assignment is worked through on a case by case basis with the course tutor. Please tell your tutor in advance if you suffer from a medical condition that affects your ability to study.
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 are three grades; fail, pass and distinction. The certificate is not granted for just attending the class and completing the assessments and it is possible to fail.
Q. I would like to know what the certificate is equivalent to. Is it on par with GCSE's, ‘A’ levels?
A. The Intermediate Certificate is not recognised as a ‘qualification” as such outside Pharos and the Society of Genealogists. However, see above for the comments about AGRA recognition in professional genealogy. Most of the courses are taught at about ‘A’ level or first-year undergraduate level. If you have previously been on a Pharos course, you will be familiar with the general standard of the lesson information. These courses are no different.
Q. I have no formal academic qualifications, will I be able to cope?
A. Individuals vary greatly and how well you can cope will depend very much on the amount of time you have available, and the amount of research experience you already have. Please contact us for further advice if you are in any doubt about whether the course is suitable for you.
Q. I have been doing my family history online for a year and I want to fast track my learning, will this programme be suitable?
A. You must be familiar with the census for England & Wales, civil registration records, and understand parish registers. If you do not know how to find a birth certificate, or where to find births prior to 1837 then you need more experience before embarking on this programme. If you are in any doubt, we recommend all students take the following Anytime courses to make sure your skills are up to speed:
Q. Will there be restrictions on class size?
A. Yes. Class sizes are unlikely to be above 25 per class.
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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