What's Right For Me?

We hope these tips will help you navigate your way to the right course for you.

Pharos courses are topic based, which means we don't have one long-winded course covering everything. We have broken down the most common topics into separate areas of study, allowing you to dip in and out to suit yourself.

There are 3 types of course, all containing different topics and needing different amounts of time and commitment:

  • Anytime
  • Tutor-Led
  • Tutor-Led with the option of working towards a certificate


Courses are numbered to give you some idea about the level of difficulty of both course content and the prior knowledge that you will need to have before making the most from the course. Read more about Course numbers here.

Anytime courses can be started at any time and you work at your leisure on your own. There is the opportunity to ask questions of a tutor in the course forum.

Tutor-Led courses are the most popular option and have set starting and ending dates. They include organised chat sessions with the class and a forum for questions and interactions. You get the feeling of being 'in a class' and to make the most of the course you need a certain amount of time available during the weeks that the course runs. Exactly how much work you do is up to you. None of your work is marked.

Tutor-Led with Certificate courses have the same format as Tutor-Led courses, and you can choose the option to be part of an assessed programme, with your work marked by your tutor, leading to a certificate and a real sense of achievement. Start with Intermediate and then move to Advanced. You may also take any of these courses without being enrolled for a certificate, or being assessed.

Pointers to help you Choose

If you are starting out with family history in England & Wales , then our Beginner's Course is right for you. This is also a good course to choose if you want to be certain you have the right knowledge before moving to some of our more advanced courses. This is an Anytime Course which means that you study completely at your leisure without having to do any work by a date, or attending a chat. Find Out more About Anytime Courses here.

If you are interested in really getting to know your ancestors while also learning in depth about a set of England & Wales records, then Victorian Families in the Census is a good one to progress with. This is a Tutor-Led course.

If you have Scottish, Irish or Welsh ancestors then we have two levels of courses for Scotland and Ireland, while Welsh ancestry is covered by one specialised course. Our Ireland courses are also Anytime courses. Our Scottish and Welsh Courses are Tutor-Led.

If you are getting stuck with your England & Wales searches, then these Tutor-Led courses are suitable:  All About Parish Registers, So You Think You know Family Search.

For an in-depth look on how to the get the most from The National Archives, choose The National Archives Website and Catalogue.

If you are researching a rare surname, then you should consider the specialist techniques from our Tutor-Led Introduction to One-Name Studies course

For the experienced English researcher needing information from further back, Medieval Genealogy, 17th Century Sources, and Before the Modern Census could be right up your street. All these courses are from our certificate programmes, but you do not have to be part of a programme to take individual courses.  

Want to find military records? Your Military Ancestors fits the bill, and World War Research.

Local and community history your thing?  One-Place Studies will be right for you.

Cannot find ancestors before the 19th century? Try Migration in the British Isles, All About Parish Registers and So You Think You Know Family Search.

Need extra help choosing?  Use the contact box to ask your question.