The IHGS Correspondence Course in Genealogy, launched in 1961, provides an in-depth knowledge of UK genealogical sources and their application. The course prepares students for examination at the level of Higher Certificate in Genealogy.
Unlike other courses there is no fixed timetable and students are able to study in their own time, at their own pace and from the comfort of their own home and local archives. A particular benefit of the IHGS course is the emphasis on using the student's own family history research as the basis for research assignments, rather than using fixed research pieces.
The course is suitable for both beginners and experienced genealogists and the academic standards followed and depth of learning are also suitable for those intending to operate a professional genealogical practice.
The course consists of twenty-four modules, starting with the importance of beginning with records available in the home, moving through a detailed look at the basic sources such as birth, marriage and death records and census returns to more advanced sources such as criminal records, manorial records and Chancery Court records. The course also considers research in the UK outside England and Wales. Each module involves reading the provided lecture notes, conducting some background reading and completing a number of assignments, marked on a continuous assessment basis.
Many students choose to download lectures and submit assignments electronically, though the course is also available in traditional postal format for those that prefer to work in this way. An online Students' Forum provides the opportunity to meet other students and discuss course materials and Tutorial Weekends are held in Canterbury for those able to travel and wanting more face to face tuition. Each student is allocated a tutor who marks their assignments and offers guidance as they move through the course.
On completion of the Correspondence Course students are invited to take the Higher Certificate in Genealogy examination. Students may opt to have their grades for assignments put forward instead of taking the second paper, if they have attained a suitable standard.
The rate at which a student progresses through the course is dependent on the time available to them to study. It is recommended that every student set aside at least two hours every week for work on the course. 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.
The Correspondence Course in Genealogy prepares candidates for examination at the level of Higher Certificate in Genealogy. There is then the option to proceed 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.
Students may enrol by paying the full fee or first instalment. All Correspondence Course students are entitled to reduced fees for attending Institute courses and seminars.