Postgraduate research

What is distance learning?

Our distance learning programmes offer a flexible way to study for a research degree - allowing you to gain a University of Leicester research degree wherever you are in the world. 

As with the campus based PhD programme, you will undertake a substantial research project that is written up as a thesis of 80,000 words and defended in an oral examination (the "viva voce" examination).

The minimum part time registration period is 4 years with a maximum of 7 years.

There is no difference between the distance learning PhD qualification and the campus based equivalent and both degrees are recognised internationally.

We offer distance learning research degrees in the following subjects:

Benefits of distance learning

Distance learning research degrees allow you to:

  • Develop your career without having to leave employment
  • Continue earning as you study and spread the costs of your course
  • Apply new knowledge and insights to your working life while you are still studying
  • Tackle a professional or work-related topic of interest to you in your doctoral thesis

Support and training

On a distance learning programme, you are just as much a part of our research community as your campus-based colleagues:

  • Many schools and departments now use email groups and other online forums to involve those on distance learning programmes in the day-to-day lives of their postgraduate communities and you will be encouraged to participate in campus-based research events as far as possible.
  • You'll have a personal supervisor who will help you plan and manage your research and develop your understanding of relevant research methodology.
  • You can keep in touch with your supervisor and other researchers in your school or department through Blackboard, our Virtual Learning Environment.
  • You can access online training materials, study guides, and multimedia resources to help you develop your effectiveness as a researcher
  • We have extensive e-library resources including remote access to some 65,000 electronic journals and 800,000 e-books.

Distance learning PhD research students undertake a structured programme of research training, delivered entirely through a combination of module books and interactive tasks, readings, and discussion through the University's online virtual learning environment.

The training covers core skills including:

  • Requirements of the PhD degree and expectations for the thesis
  • Finding and reviewing academic literature
  • Formulating and refining research questions
  • Research ethics
  • Academic writing
  • Quantitative research and analysis
  • Qualitative research and analysis

Visiting Leicester

Distance learning PhD research students are registered on probation for the first twenty-four months of their degree. Over this period you will complete your research skills training and your overall suitability for a PhD programme will be monitored.

At the end of this period your progress will be assessed and, subject to this being satisfactory, you can then continue with your degree.

You will be required to visit Leicester both for your probation review and for your viva exam at the end of your degree. You are not required to visit Leicester at any other time, but distance learners are welcome to do so should they wish to:

  • meet their supervisor or fellow researchers
  • use facilities such as the University Library
  • attend training sessions or other University events for researchers

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