The programme is delivered online, using a web communications tools system (Canvas) and this web environment is where students are expected to take part in online discussions and group activities, guided by a tutor. All required reading is provided (either in hard copy or via our extensive electronic library, or via Internet links).
In delivering our distance learning programmes, we have drawn on lessons learned by academic institutions about how to provide effective distance learning and use a blended learning approach:
- An intensive online induction programme is included to familiarise students with the web-based discussion boards, the online library facilities and the requirements of the programme
- Required reading materials are provided in hard copy
- Discussions and group activities take place within an online learning environment
- Students benefit from interacting closely with each other and their tutors even while they are separated by continents and time zones (we have students in Africa, the Caribbean, the US, Eastern Europe, South East Asia and the UK)
- Whilst discussion groups and access to the electronic library rely on the use of a computer, students are not tied to the computer for other reading materials
- A short online research methods course is provided prior to starting the dissertation project
- We pride ourselves on strong administrative, academic and pastoral support for students
Our distance learning courses use a variety of teaching and assessment methods: Hard copy teaching and reading materials
- Textbooks and CDs / DVDs
- Electronic access to the University’s extensive elibrary facility containing ejournals, ebooks and databases
- Group online discussion activities (using Canvas, which is part of our 'virtual learning environment')
- Individual reading and reflection
Each module takes six weeks to complete (with guided online discussions). The MSc does not include any face-to-face element. For the MSc, we have replaced exams with time-limited assignments (which take place over the weekend at the end of each module).
The course is assumed to be part time, and students study one module at a time.
IDD has designed its distance learning courses to be accessible for a working professional person and we have kept the technical requirements to a minimum. However, before you commit to distance learning, we recommend that you consider the following:
IT equipment: To complete a distance learning course successfully, you will need:
- Extended access to a computer with Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, a media player software and a CD-ROM drive.
- Regular access to the Internet for visiting the web-based discussion boards, email and some online library research (whilst this is obviously easier with broadband, we have many students who participate successfully through a dial-up connection).
IT skills: You will find this course less challenging if you are already a confident Internet user, although we are available extensively to coach you through becoming familiar with the web-based discussion format and to address other IT questions.
Time: This course requires that you read a good deal and regularly check into the web-based discussions during the six 'live' weeks of discussion for each module. If you are forced to miss some of the discussions for work or personal reasons, this can be coped with, but if you are regularly out of touch you will find it hard to complete the assignments to the required standard. Writing the assignments is also time-consuming.