Research Degrees by Distance Learning

Since Autumn 2017, the School of Advanced Study has offered students the opportunity to undertake a PhD by distance learning. SAS Research Degrees by Distance Learning

A PhD by distance learning allows you to undertake your doctoral research at an off-campus location, at a location that suits you.

Distance learning students are required to attend our London campus at set intervals to complete an intensive research training module, for upgrade, and for the viva but will otherwise study at their own location. 

This option is available to UK, EU and international students on the same basis as our on-campus PhD programmes (usually 3-4 years full time, 6-8 years part time).

If you would like to be considered for our Research Degree programme via Distance Learning, please download and fill out the Research Degrees by Distance Learning form, to attach to your online application.

Why pursue a PhD by distance learning?

Many people are unable to commit to living in London for 3-4 years (full time students) or 6-8 years (part time students) to pursue their PhD research. Thus, the option of distance learning affords them the opportunity to be supervised by leading academics without having to be based in London. 

The PhD by distance learning offers a great deal of flexibility to combine doctoral research with other commitments, whether work, family, or something else, and to receive a doctoral degree from the University of London upon successful completion of the programme. 

Please note, though, that the PhD by distance learning option is difficult and isolating. While you will have regular engagement with your supervisor, you will miss out on the benefit of the on-campus support network of, and engagement with, fellow PhD students. 

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have the appropriate local resources, IT equipment and infrastructure before they can register on the distance learning programme.

To ensure that students are fully supported and provided with the best tools and guidance throughout their PhD, applications will be considered on an individual basis. As not all Institutes offer the distance program, each student’s needs will be considered individually and an appropriate supervisory team recommended. We generally require an exceptional academic background (for example, as demonstrated by results in a Masters programme) and/or other experience.

Admission to the distance learning programme is at the sole discretion of the Director of Postgraduate Research. 

Programme Structure

You will receive the same support and supervision as on-campus students, with the main difference being in arrangements for supervision meetings. 

Supervision meetings will take place through audiovisual communications (eg Skype, Facetime, Teams, Zoom) to be discussed with your supervisor, rather than via in-person meetings. 

You are expected to comply with the same requirements as on-campus students, including personal development and training requirements. 

You are required to attend campus on four occasions during your programme of study:

  • Initial induction (a 3-day induction at the start of your studies);
  • A research training workshop in January (a 2-week training course);
  • Your Upgrade (ie upgrade from the MPhil to PhD register), which usually takes place during year 2 of your study (full-time students) or during years 3 or 4 (part-time students);
  • Viva voce exam (at the end of your programme, after you have submitted your thesis). 

During the induction week distance students will be given the opportunity to meet their student representatives and other students beginning their PhD, as well as students already enrolled on the programme.

You are also welcome to attend at other times, for example to conduct research in the IALS library, to attend the PhD Masterclasses or other events, etc. 

You will also benefit from the School’s extensive research training portfolio, online e-resources, podcasting, and video recordings on a wide range of topics to help you complete your research degree.

Tuition fees

For information on fees, funding and scholarships, please see here.

Page last updated: 30th March 2020