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:
- 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;
- 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.
Criteria and application process
What are the tuition fees?
The tuition fees for students studying for a Research Degree by Distance Learning at the University of Bristol are the same as for campus-based study. Doctoral candidates will be expected to arrange and cover the costs for their visits to the University, including travel, accommodation and any visa requirements.
What is the approval process?
Check the programme webpage to see if it offers distance learning as a mode of study. Then please get in touch with the relevant School and an academic who may be available to supervise you.
Do take the time to discuss your research proposal and your specific circumstances with particular emphasis on your current employment status and whether or not your employer will be supporting your research, by providing access to research facilities, data, archives and other, if required.
The Bristol Doctoral College can offer further advice, please get in touch.
What are the entry requirements?
You need to meet the general admission requirements for your research programme. Please read the Admissions Statement for the programme of your choice, which is on the programme web page.
Your personal statement should articulate the motivation for studying by distance learning. You must also demonstrate:
- An ability to undertake research independently as shown, for example, by previous distance learning experience, the completion of independent research projects, presentations at conferences, and professional or academic publications;
- Evidence that your home location is suitable for undertaking the research and access to appropriate research materials and resources;
- Access to appropriate technological equipment and the internet to allow remote contact.
How often will I need to visit the University?
The minimum requirement is a two-week visit each academic year, plus a further visit for the final oral examination. For international students who require a visa, Student Visa Services is available to help.
How do I apply?
You can apply online using the University’s online application system.
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.
Discover more about life as a distance learner at Bristol — from scheduled visits to supervision arrangements.
Search the Student Funding database to see all University funding opportunities.