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Modes of study

Friday 14 March 2014 Struggling With Study

Choosing a postgraduate course can be difficult at the best of times, but things can get more confusing when you consider the different study options on offer. Let us help you decide which type of study is best for you.

Full-time study

This is the most common form of postgraduate study and allows you to study intensively for the duration of the course. The exact meaning of 'full time' will differ from programme to programme and university to university. For example, it could mean 9am to 5pm every weekday, or it could mean differing contact and research hours every week.

However the full-time course is set up, it will allow you to achieve your chosen qualification in the shortest possible time compared to other modes of study.

Part-time study

Another popular choice, part-time study is typically aimed at students who have to juggle work or family commitments as well as their degree. It also tends to attract those considering changing careers.

It will take longer for you to complete a course of this kind and you may find you're not as immersed in university life as those on full-time programmes, but it will give you more flexibility.

For most part-time courses, the days and times you need to be at university will be set in stone and won't change. Teaching could take place in the daytime or the evening.

However, sometimes this isn't the case and your tuition days may change, which can make things difficult for those in full-time employment to get sufficient time off for their studies.

Blended learning 

This is a method of study in which face-to-face classroom time is combined with online learning.

This means that as well as providing students with contact time with lecturers, private tutors and fellow students, they also get increased flexibility from being able to work from home.

Other benefits of this mode of study include reducing travel costs and developing independent learning skills.

Block mode learning

A relatively new method of study, block mode helps students who want to study part time but are affected by not being able to plan time off from employment.

This involves modules being taught in full over a fixed period of time (usually five days at a time), allowing students to look at their timetable, see which weeks they will be in university, and book the relevant time off.

The number of learning blocks planned for a course will depend on the number of modules taken. The blocks only take into account face-to-face contact time with lecturers, so you will be expected to revise, research and complete assignments in your own time.

Distance learning

If you want to study a postgraduate course but your location or other commitments are such that travelling to university for your learning would be inconvenient, distance learning could be an option for you.

This mode of study involves learning exclusively from home, or another location of your choice. While that may sound like a disadvantage, distance learning courses have developed significantly since first being introduced.

Students still get a personal tutor, who they can communicate with throughout the course and from who they receive regular and comprehensive feedback on their work.

Work is similar to a regular postgraduate course, with assignments taking the form of essays, short tests, projects, dissertations, projects or presentations. Assignments are either tutor marked or computer marked.

All the resources you need to complete your studies are provided, often in a variety of platforms, from print and eBooks to DVDs and online videos.

In addition, you can take as long as you like to complete your course and, in some cases, even dedicate more time to your studies in one year than the next.

Further information