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Distance Learning Universities

In recent years, more and more students have chosen to embark on their degrees via distance learning instead of the more conventional on-site methods. Why is this? There are a lot of very good reasons to study a distance learning course, such as the flexibility it provides or simply other commitments that would prevent you from following the more traditional university path. Whilst it may once have been a concern that employers would think less of a degree gained online, due to the increase in popularity of this option, this is no longer the case.


Distance learning at UK universities

As a result of this, many universities now offer distance learning courses, but there are none as well known as the Open University. Given that the OU is one of the largest providers of distance learning courses, we'll take a look at that first.

The Open University

So what exactly is the OU? Well, it’s one of the leading providers of distance learning courses in the UK. However, whereas most people think of distance learning as meaning online learning, the OU has been around since 1971, and the use of computers on its courses really only began around 1988. It offers something known as ‘supported open learning’, meaning students learn in their own time,  in a location of their choosing, but still be supported in their studies in a variety of ways – from a tutor online, facilities in their local area, or day schools and study events. The OU also provides its own teaching materials – including web resources, textbooks and DVDS, something which not all distance learning universities do. However, whilst the OU is the most well-known distance learning course provider in the UK, there are many other options for distance learning study.

University of Derby Online Learning

UDOL Student Case Study The University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) has been providing specialised programs of study to students around the world for over ten years. UDOL offers a wide range of  online, distance learning postgraduate courses in disciplines such as Finance, Psychology, Engineering and Law. The UDOL course are specifically designed  for online learning and developed by a team of highly qualified academics who are experts in their fields. Click here to find out more about UDOL and to read Annette Forster Matherly's  student case study. 

University of London

The University of London also has distance learning options with a wide selection of International Programs would suit you well. They have undergraduate courses, graduate diplomas and postgraduate degrees all available via distance learning courses. With courses in everything from finance to theology and computing, there is a whole range of options open to you. In addition, the courses available in this International Program are led by a variety of world-famous universities, including the likes of SOAS, UCL, Royal Holloway and Birkbeck.

Like the OU, the University of London provides many of the study resources, including access to its online library with over 5 million academic journals. There is also the option to attend classes at a local institution, or to study entirely independently.

Staffordshire University

You can study distance learning at Staffordshire University – a Top 40 University (Guardian League Tables 2020). Choose from one of their 35 distance learning postgraduate courses from a wide range of subject areas, including Computer Science, Psychology, International Relations and Sport. The courses are led by experienced and highly skilled academics who are experts in their field, plus all the learning materials you need will be available online including lectures, recordings and course material. You’ll also be able to join lively debates with your tutors and fellow students.

Other university options

Nowadays many UK universities offer the option of distance learning, despite not being what we might call distance learning universities. From Essex to Oxford, universities are now offering certain courses via online teaching. You can study anything from a masters in international human rights law to astrophysics. It’s not just masters degrees that are available either – some universities  offer distance learning PhDs too.

List of distance learning degrees

To make a list of every distance would be a major undertaking that would fill pages upon pages of the site. So, rather than list each individual course and university that offers it, let’s take a look at the types of degrees available via distance learning universities, and some of the subject areas they cover.

Types of distance learning degree

Undergraduate – Degrees such as a BA or BSc, Foundation degrees, diplomas of higher education and certificates of higher education.

Postgraduate – Degrees such as a masters degree (MA, MSc, MPhil or MBA), PhD, Postgraduate Diploma, and Postgraduate certificates.

Possible subject areas

Arts and Humanities
Business, Management and Finance
Computing and IT
Social Sciences

As you can see, the options for study at distance learning universities are just as wide as via any other method of study – so why not look at our subject section for more details?


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