The Correspondence Course in Genealogy
This course is available online as downloadable PDFs.

The Correspondence Course in Genealogy was launched in 1961 and has been growing in popularity ever since. Students tell us that they find the course to be great value for money, being significantly less expensive than other distance learning courses with comparable academic content. The lecture material is excellent and the individual tutorial guidance is first-rate. Unlike other courses that have come and gone during the last four decades, the Correspondence Course in Genealogy encourages the student to apply the subject material to his or her own personal research. Our students also speak of the fun and enjoyment of following the course and how it has helped them to get over apparently insurmountable research problems.

The course is continually assessed with all assignments graded. Those students wishing to take the Higher Certificate in Genealogy examination may opt to have their grades for assignments put forward instead of taking the second paper.

The course, which is suitable both for beginners and for experienced genealogists, is also designed to prepare students for professional genealogical practice. As such it covers the full range of genealogically useful sources to considerable depth. This also makes it the best available course for those simply tracing their own families as a hobby, ensuring that they have the best knowledge base so that their research is as good as it can be. The Correspondence Course is both challenging and demanding, but the principal qualifications for embarking on it are enthusiasm and dedication.

Course Structure

The Course comprises 24 lecture modules, which may be delivered either as paper copies, or downloaded from our dedicated website as Adobe Acrobat PDF files. These lecture modules will enable the student to cover in full the syllabus required for the Institute's Higher Certificate in Genealogy. The Syllabus is available here in PDF format, or a brief outline is available here.

Comments from Past Students

“…. most surprising was the amount I gained from lectures dealing with topics I had thought I knew well already!” Mr J Collins of Hampshire

"The course has made me aware of records that I would never have looked at; having Ag Lab ancestors I only thought as far as the Workhouse! It also made me visit repositories  that I would not have thought of." Miss P. Dagwell of Kent

“…. The comments of my tutor are always constructive and informative”. Mr A. Foreman of Kent

“…. The course has been of inestimable value.”  Mrs. A. Baker of Surrey.

“… I have found the course stimulating and interesting….” Mrs. H. Jennings of Australia.

“…. The knowledge I have gained… is almost immeasurable.”  Mrs. S. Mendel of Lincolnshire

“…. Every lecture has been a challenge in some way…. Each acts as a catalyst for the student who wishes to know more”  Mr G. Strachan of Northamptonshire.

“… each subject has been dealt with expertly…..I would certainly recommend the course to anyone.  I eagerly look forward to the next lecture..”  Mr B. Myers of Co Durham.

“I would just like to say that I enjoyed the course immensely - it took me into dark and mysterious areas of family history research and enabled me to uncover my ancestors back to the 17th century. Sadly I did not discover a lord, baron or famous general. My lot worked the fields, sailed the canals and marched in the ranks.”  Mr L. Mitchinson of Hampshire.


Students may enrol by paying the full fee or first instalment. Correspondence Course students enjoy the benefits of a popular web-based Student Forum, which allows them to discuss the course and also to contact their Tutors. A number of relevant textbooks are also supplied free at particular stages of the course. All students receive a complimentary 2-year subscription to the Institute's in-house academic journal Family History and are entitled to reduced fees for attending Institute courses and seminars. Students are encouraged to attend the Tutorial weekends.


The pace of instruction will be determined by the time available to the individual student. There is no set time limit, but it is perceived that the student is unlikely to gain full benefit from the course if it is completed in less than three years. It is recommended, however, that every student sets aside at least two hours every week for work on the course.


The Correspondence Course in Genealogy prepares candidates for examination at the level of Higher Certificate in Genealogy; students who wish to proceed to professional qualifications must first obtain the Higher Certificate in Genealogy. Progress through practical assignments and academic study leads to the Diploma in Genealogy which is an internationally recognised professional qualification. Further practical experience and the submission of a thesis or dissertation can lead to the Licentiateship of the Institute.


Cecil R Humphery-Smith and The Trustees of the Institute reserve strict copyright in the material supplied and the content of the lectures.

Further details of the course can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Click here to book online with your credit card

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