Distance learning

Options for distance learning

Distance Learning

For those who need complete flexibility there is the distance learning option, where learners study from work or home as and when they can, with support on offer online, through email, telephone and often via residential schools and study groups. It may be of interest to those who:

  • want to learn when and where they want, at their own pace.
  • have family and/or work commitments which make it harder for them to attend a regular course.
  • have mobility or health problems that make travel or attendance difficult.
  • live a long way from a training provider that provides the course the learner wants to study.
  • work irregular hours or shifts.

Students can choose when to study, although there are deadlines for assignments and exams for many courses.

Distance learning uses a variety of methods, some paper-based, others IT-based. Students interact with each other and with tutors through email, webinars, online forums and telephone conferencing. There may also be study days and residentials.


The biggest provider of HE by distance learning is The Open University. Open University courses generally have no entry requirements, and no upper age limit.

Other providers of online learning courses include:

University of Derby 

Derby offers a wide range of online courses within the following subject areas: Accounting, Business, Computing & IT, Environmental Sciences, Finance, Health and Social Care, Hospitality, Law, Management and Psychology

University of Essex 

Online Undergraduate Degrees at Essex are available in Law, Business, Marketing and Criminology. University of Essex Online courses are delivered by Kaplan Open Learning (Essex) Limited, an experienced online learning provider. Courses start throughout the year so, unlike a traditional degree course, learners don’t have to wait until September to begin their studies. Entry requirements are flexible, looking at both academic and work-based experience.

University of Greenwich 

The only Undergraduate programme on offer is the Occupational Safety, Health and Environment, BSc Hons (top-up).

University of Leicester 

Leicester offers degrees, Certificates of Higher Education and Foundation Degrees through its distance learning programme. Degrees are available in Ancient History, Archaeology, Human Resources and Risk Management. Foundation Degrees are available in Drug and Alcohol Counselling and Risk management.  Certificates and Diplomas of Higher Education are available in: Ancient History, Archaeology, Global Ecology and Wildlife Conservation and Human Resources.

Northumbria University 

The following subjects are offered at Undergraduate Degree  level: Law, Management and Tennis Coaching Management. Occupational Health & Safety is also available for distance learners as a National Certificate or Diploma.

Resource Development International  

Resource Development International, based in Coventry (RDI), has partnered with three UK universities –Anglia Ruskin University, Bradford University School of Management and the University of Sunderland, to deliver online distance learning courses. RDI offer degrees in Business, Management, Computing, Law, Graphic Design, Psychology and Health & Social Care. Higher National Diplomas are available in Business, Tourism and Computing.