Frequently asked questions 

Below are some of the common questions we receive regarding studying by distance learning. You can find further information about your particular programme of interest on the relevant coursefinder webpage. 

Why study by distance learning?

The main advantage of studying by distance learning is the flexibility. Potential financial and practical implications of moving closer to our Birmingham campus could mean distance learning is a more feasible option. It could allow you to combine study with other commitments, including work and family.  Similarly, your programme may be related to your area of residence, making a move detrimental to your capacity to carry out your studies.

Is distance learning for me?

Although you will be well-supported throughout your course, you do need to be able to motivate yourself and dedicate regular time to your studies. The programme will involve a significant amount of independent study, which you will need to be comfortable with. For those studying a research degree, the ability to proactively seek out connections from within relevant research communities is important.

Distance learning is well-suited to those whose studies or research is associated with their work or particular interests, and where resources to support your studies are available locally. However, you will also have ample opportunities to interact with your tutors and peers via online discussion forums, social media and email.

How will my programme be delivered?

For those studying taught programmes, course materials - including lecture recordings, readings and seminar discussions - are accessed via the University’s virtual learning environment, Canvas. This platform also hosts supporting materials for distance learning research students.

For research programmes, you will be able to generally access tutor support via email, telephone and audio-visual communication services such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. You will be well-supported throughout your programme of study.

Screenshot of a canvas session

When would I start?

Most taught Masters programmes commence in September/October, although MA Applied Linguistics and MA TESOL also offer start dates in February, April and July.

Start dates for research programmes can be flexible – subject to agreement from your supervisor – but we would encourage you to begin your studies in the month of September so that you can attend an induction along with other candidates beginning their research at the same time as you.  

Do I need to be on campus?

This is dependent on the course you choose.

One of our taught Masters courses does require some attendance: Shakespeare and Education has a core module which is delivered as a four-day block over Easter. However, you still complete the majority of the course at a distance. All other programmes can be studied entirely from your home location.

Distance learning PhD and MA by Research students are required to visit the University once in their first year of study, for a one week residential course, to be held either in September or in January.*

All distance learners are also welcome to attend any events or conferences that the University is holding throughout their programme. 

Applicants who are willing and able to visit Birmingham regularly may wish to consider a part-time study route which is available for the majority of our campus programmes.

* Please note: This does not apply to the PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics

Can I study by distance learning in the UK?

Yes, our distance learning courses can be undertaken from anywhere in the world, including the UK. However, if you do live in the UK and would like to consider a traditional part-time course, we would be happy to advise you of the time commitment required so that you can choose which mode would suit best.

How do I apply?

Simply visit the relevant coursefinder page and click the ‘apply for this course’ button on the top right-hand side of the page.

If you are applying for a research programme, you might also find it useful to refer to our six-step process on applying for PhD and MA by Research programmes and our detailed advice on the evidence you will need to demonstrate in your application.

What is the cost of studying by distance learning?

Fees will vary by programme and will be included on the course finder page. In most cases, we charge an annual tuition fee, so for programmes of two or more years, fees will be payable in subsequent years of your programme. However, some taught programmes charge a modular fee.

Some postgraduate research programmes require students to visit the campus once in their first year of study and such visits may be subsidised by the College of Arts and Law. Please check with the College of Arts and Law Graduate School on to see whether this support is offered by your intended programme.

How will I be supported?

We aim to ensure you receive the same level of support and supervision as on-campus students.  For example, for research programmes supervisory sessions will take place via audio and visual communication services such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, rather than in person. For taught programmes, course materials - including lecture recordings, readings and seminar discussions - are generally accessed via the University’s virtual learning environment, Canvas.