Remain or Leave? Reflections on the pedagogical and informational value of a MOOC on the 2016 UK referendum on EU membership

Andrew Glencross, Emily St Denny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the British electorate was asked to vote on a simple-sounding question during the UK referendum on EU membership in June 2016, the issues at play were extremely complex. In order to help potential voters make sense of the debate, the authors ran a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the referendum in the weeks leading up to the vote. The core of the MOOC featured all the common characteristics of this type of course: weekly video lectures, quizzes, question and answer sessions, forums and personal journals which participants could use to share and deliberate. This article reflects on the design and delivery of this course to assess its usefulness in an academic setting, especially when treating politically sensitive questions. In particular, we consider issues of format, participation, and interaction and also examine student outcomes as measured by a survey of users who completed the course. What this shows is that the ability of MOOCs to deliver on their initial promise as a revolutionary pedagogical tool for communicating knowledge remains somewhat limited. Nevertheless, the level of student satisfaction obtained and the desire expressed in discussion forums for more expert analysis outside conventional channels suggests there is probably a high demand for EU-related MOOCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1422-1436
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Research
Issue number4
Early online date15 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright: University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES)
Funder: ESRC UK in a Changing Europe grant, 4030006113.


  • MOOC
  • Brexit
  • EU referendum
  • online learning


Dive into the research topics of 'Remain or Leave? Reflections on the pedagogical and informational value of a MOOC on the 2016 UK referendum on EU membership'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this