Skip to content


Distance learning can give you the freedom and flexibility to learn when and where you want and at your own pace. You can study a wide range of subjects at any level. It can be ideal if the subject you're interested in isn't available nearby.

The benefits of  distance learning

Distance learning makes use of information and communications technology to provide innovative ways to learn. It covers learning remotely on courses such as home study or 'self-study' courses, which can be combined with e-learning. It may appeal to you if you:

  • want to learn when and where you want, at your own pace
  • have commitments which make it harder for you to attend a regular course
  • have mobility or health problems that make travel or attendance difficult
  • live a long way from a training provider
  • work irregular hours or shifts
  • Learning and education

How e-learning works

A variety of media is used to help with learning and to provide communication between learners and tutors. These include:

  • traditional written materials, such as books and manuals
  • television and radio broadcasts
  • online information
  • online groups
  • video conferencing
  • email support
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs offer university-level courses without the need to complete an entire programme of studies, often at no cost. You can select courses form any institution offering them. There are no entry requirements. However, they don't always lead to formal qualifications.

Your tutor can support you by phone, email, online or post. You might be able to talk to other learners by email or website discussion groups. This helps you learn from the rest of the group and comment on each other's work.

To get a feel of what e-learning is like, try taking a free taster course online. If you don't have internet access at home, you can get free access at libraries. Staff will also be able to help you.

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest university in Europe. Open University courses generally have no entry requirements, and no upper age limit. Courses range from short courses for people who have never studied before to specialist courses aimed at postgraduates.

If you haven't studied for some time or are interested in a new subject, short courses and a special programme called the 'Openings Programme' can help you discover if OU study is right for you. OU qualifications mark academic success but also show that you have commitment, ambition and self discipline.