In delivering our distance learning programmes, we have drawn on lessons learned at Birmingham and by other academic institutions about how to provide effective distance learning and use a blended learning approach:
- An intensive online induction programme is included to familiarise you with the web-based discussion boards, the online library facilities and the requirements of the programme
- Required reading materials are provided electronically or in hard copy
- Discussions and group activities take place within an online learning environment
- You will benefit from interacting closely with other students and tutors even whilst separated by continents and time zones (we currently have students in Africa, the Caribbean, North America, South East Asia and Europe, including the UK)
- Specific support for developing a dissertation proposal 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:
- Electronic access to the University’s extensive e-library, containing e-journals, e-books and databases, delivered through the ResourceLists@Bham system
- Where key readings and textbooks are not available electronically, hard copies are sent out to you by mail
- Group online discussion activities (using Canvas, which is part of our ‘virtual learning environment’)
- Individual reading and reflection
- A dissertation supervised by an allocated academic supervisor
Each module takes 11 weeks to complete (with guided online discussions). The MSc does not include any face-to-face element.
The course is assumed to be part time, and you will 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 Microsoft Word and Excel (students are eligible for free use of Office 365 during their studies) and an internet browser compatible with Canvas, such as Edge, Firefox, Chrome or Safari.
- Regular access to the internet for visiting the web-based discussion boards, e-mail and some online library research (whilst this is obviously easier with broadband, many students have participated 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 11 ‘live’ weeks of discussion for each module. If you are forced to miss some of the discussions for work or personal reasons, this can often be accommodated, 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.