Distance learning for research programmes

Distance learning offers flexible off-campus research and learning. It is available across an increasing number of our research degrees.

What is distance learning?

Distance Learning is a mode of attendance, which means you do not need to regularly come to the University. This is suitable for self-motivated students with experience of working independently.

If you are interested in a degree by distance learning you must meet the usual admissions criteria for your chosen research degree, as well as both of the following conditions:

  1. A successful outcome of the research programme is not reliant on the University’s facilities but enriched by resources and facilities which are available to a research degree candidate locally, for example in their work place;
  2. The required academic supervision can be provided remotely.

Who is it appropriate for?

The two following examples illustrate the difference between distance learning and campus-based learning. This will help you decide whether or not distance learning is right for you.

  • Distance learning example: A candidate’s main place of residency is outside of Bristol in the UK or abroad. They have their own access to facilities essential for their research: laboratory, databases, archives, experimental facilities, or other resources. They communicate regularly with their supervisors using online meetings, phone and email. They attend joint meetings as stipulated by the University’s policy for research degrees by distance learning.
  • Campus-based example: A candidate’s main place of residency might be outside Bristol, but they require regular ongoing access to the University’s facilities (for example, research laboratories, library and high power computers) to progress their research. They visit the University every two - four weeks for face-to-face meetings with academic supervisors.

Sometimes a research student needs to be away from the University as part of field work, they will still be considered campus-based.

Benefits of a research degree by distance learning

Distance learning suits academically qualified candidates who wish to do a research degree but cannot regularly attend campus.

For example, the research degree might benefit someone in work if it is supported by an employer, or can suit candidates with caring responsibilities or disabilities.

Search for distance learning research programmes

Criteria and application process

Support for distance learners

There are a range of online resources available to research students. The Personal and Professional Development catalogue provides a filtered list to explore.

How distance learning works

Discover more about life as a distance learner at Bristol — from scheduled visits to supervision arrangements.

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