The University of Birmingham's College of Life and Environmental Sciences now offers PhD by Distance Learning.
This means that wherever you are in the world, you may now be able register with the University of Birmingham for your Doctoral qualification but undertake the majority of your studies in your home location.
Why study by distance learning?
The main advantage of studying by distance learning is the flexibility. Financial and practical implications of moving closer to the campus make distance learning a more feasible option and could allow you to combine study with other commitments, including work and family. Similarly, your research could be related to your area of residence and therefore moving would be detrimental to your capacity to carry out the research.
Is the distance learning route for you?
The distance learning route to PhD study is not for everyone. You have to have a very clear idea of your project and be able to motivate yourself. Undertaking PhD study off campus can sometimes be quite isolating, so the ability to proactively seek out connections from within relevant research communities is important. This route is well-suited to those who have a research project associated with their work or particular interests and where resources are available locally, over via the internet, to support your research e.g. appropriate archives and data collections.
How will I be supported?
You will receive the same level of support and supervision as on-campus students. The only difference is that supervisory sessions will take place via audio and visual communication services such as Skype or Facetime, rather than in person.
What is the cost?
We charge an annual tuition fee which is the same as our standard on-campus PhD but includes:
- Economy class flights to and from Birmingham for the compulsory two-week campus visit in September
- Accommodation at the University for the compulsory two-week campus visit in September
- Economy class flights to and from Birmingham at the end of the study period for the three-day PhD viva examination
- Accommodation at the University for the three-day viva examination
How often will I need to be on campus?
Although you may be able to undertake the majority of your study at an off campus location, you will be fully funded to make one compulsory visit to the University per year of study. This will enable you to meet your supervisory team, undertake intensive research skills training and make a start on your doctoral studies. You will then be invited to attend the University for annual ‘in-person’ meetings which give you the opportunity to interact with other doctoral students both socially and academically, undertake important progress meetings and carry out necessary training. You will also generally be required to be present on campus for your viva voce.
Am I eligible?
Before we can offer you a place it is important that you have agreement from your potential supervisor and that they are satisfied that you will be able to undertake the PhD on an off campus basis. This may mean that slightly different entry requirements apply, such as English language and more extensive research skills training. Agreements will also need to be reached regarding some of the more practical aspects of undertaking the PhD in this way (for example attendance requirements, suitability of the chosen residency etc). It is important that arrangements are discussed early so that all parties involved know what to expect and to ensure you are able to successfully complete your studies.
Can I study by distance learning anywhere?
Distance Learning courses can be undertaken from anywhere in the world, including the UK.
However, it is worth noting that supervisory sessions for Distance Learning students will take place via audiovisual communications, such as Skype or Facetime, rather than in person.
While we have found that these 21st Century methods have proved popular, for those applicants who would prefer to visit the campus for face-to-face meetings with their supervisor, the traditional part-time study option may be more appropriate.
How to apply?
Find the programme that you wish to apply for in our course finder and click on the 'Apply' button.
As part of the application process, we will ask you to provide evidence to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study for a PhD by Distance Learning. Please be prepared to provide evidence, and details, of the following:
- Examples of your postgraduate research experience and ability to work independently e.g. papers/presentations at professional and academic conferences or publications in professional journals or previous completion of an independent research project, etc.
- Full reasons (academic and personal) for registering for the distance learning mode of study rather than by standard full or part-time on-campus options. In particular, how you will be able to carry out your project in your chosen location.
- Access to local library facilities (where needed)
- Access to IT facilities
- Access to communications, including e-mail, and audiovisual communication media e.g. Skype and Facetime
- Access to facilities to support any study-related disability (where appropriate)