What is a Distance Learning PhD?

A Distance Learning (DL) PhD allows you to undertake your postgraduate research degree at a location and time that fits with your current commitments. The DL PhD has the same outcome, and is conducted and examined with the same rigour and quality measures as those taking place on campus.

Whilst enrolled as a DL PhD Student you will not usually be required to visit the campus, and will instead meet with your supervisory team and other members of the University Research community via virtual means. You will receive a similar level of support as our on-campus PhD students, including supervision, training and development, seminars and access to support staff.

Distance Learning PhD requirements

Fitting part-time study into a busy life requires careful planning. You will need to work with your supervisory team from the outset to establish a weekly schedule, and you should plan to access the resources you need in good time. To support achievement, the University provides specialist resources, bespoke training and key events for distance learners.

Your DL PhD will take 6 years (part-time), and you will be required to meet certain milestones during each stage of your PhD, including the Annual and Major Reviews, submission of your Thesis, and the Viva Voce examination. These will all be completed using electronic means, and the Graduate School Development Programme offers training and guidance for these important milestones.

You will need to ensure that you have access to the required resources for your research project, and any specific arrangements for this must be agreed, for the duration of your study, in advance. You will also need access to an electronic device with internet access and video conferencing capabilities, in order to fully participate in online meetings and events.

Help and support

The Graduate School and your faculty will provide many opportunities to attend training and events; some of these will be vital for your research, and some will help you meet people and feel connected. You can also use the University Library's extensive electronic library and services for distance learners.

Although you will be based off campus, you can still access the University’s academic support and health and wellbeing support via email, phone, online chat or video call. Our IT support team can also help if you have questions about working online or accessing materials remotely.


The cost of a Distance Learning PhD in most of our subject areas is £2,250 a year (part-time) for UK/EU students, and £7,800 a year (part-time) for international students.

Check your research subject area page area page for more details.

How to apply

If you have an original idea for a research, you can find a PhD supervisor among our academics, whose expertise matches your own. You can also apply for one of our pre-approved PhD projects or explore our PhD subject areas and make an initial enquiry to our postgraduate research team.

When you apply for a research degree with us, you will need to submit a research proposal that outlines – among other things – how your project will be successfully undertaken at a distance, and demonstrate that you have access to the required resources, including IT equipment.

Apply from the relevant subject area page.