Distance Learning

Person studying in a library with laptop and notebook

At DIS we put the student at the centre of the distance learning process. We know that as mature students, distance learners often have to juggle their studies with work (employed or volunteering) and family and other commitments, so we try to be as flexible as possible to help you progress and succeed with your studies. Therefore, our distance learning programmes are designed with ‘structured flexibility’. This allows some flexibility within a robustly structured and validated programme of study. For example, you can take some time out from the course, should temporary circumstances prevent you from studying. In addition, we do not impose assignment deadlines; you work at your own pace (not ours) setting your own assignment schedule within the overall time frame of the course.

DL Courses and Modules

Our distance learning courses offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for both undergraduate and postgraduate learners. They range from Short Courses and Certificate courses, to professionally accredited Diploma, Degree, and Master’s programmes.

Each programme comprises a series of ‘modules’ and each module is worth a specified number of credits. The modules are designed to give you an overview or in-depth understanding of the subject, depending on the level and number of credits. A module is then broken down into units and includes exercises and examples to enable you to think, apply and test your knowledge as you learn. Some modules will be core modules, which means that they have to be completed as part of the course. Others are option modules that you can select from accordingly.


Distance learning (2-5 years registration)

Our flexible, self-paced degree schemes allow you to complete your degree in 2-5 years. DIS has been offering Distance Learning in this way for over 30 years, seeing thousands of students through to successful completion of a professionally accredited qualification. They have been designed to fit in with busy working/family lives and allows maximum choice and flexibility, while also offering a clearly structured and supported route to qualification. It is possible to complete the course within two years.

You normally need to be working in the information sector (libraries, archives, records office, information management) but please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this. 

Distance learning (2-year course - for UK Postgraduate Master’s Loan funded students only)

Our two-year courses are eligible for students in receipt of a UK Postgraduate Masters Student Loan only. The module content and structure of these courses is identical to the 2-5-year schemes above. However, the course must be completed within a two-year period in line with the Postgraduate Masters Loan requirements. 

DL Delivery

At the start of your distance learning studies, our support and guidance will ensure that you know how to study the programme and who to contact for further advice. We also provide training in how to access and use our online support systems and resources, including our tailored Skills Induction Programme (SkIP).

Our distance learning is delivered through a blend of methods including: online modules, study guides, activities and resources, residential schools and workshops, telephone, MS Teams and/or Skype tutorials, workplace reflection exercises, personal and academic tutor support. Modules are designed with study guides and a range of activities and resources such as case studies, video & podcast interviews, quizzes, and shared activities such as online discussion groups, with advice and support from the subject expert about the module and its assignments.

Pace of Progress

We understand that you have to balance your studies with already busy lives and we therefore aim to provide you with as much flexibility as possible, whilst at the same monitoring your progress against specified targets. Distance learners will follow a recommended study schedule/plan to complete your programme within:

  • 3 to 5 years on the undergraduate course
  • 2* to 5 years on our postgraduate courses (*Please note that courses P124D, P132D and P192D can take between 2 to 5 years to complete but UK Government Loan Funded courses P124D2, P132D2, and P194D2 MUST be completed within 2 years).

How you manage that time is largely up to you. As long as you complete the recommended minimum number of credits per year, and any recommended study schedule, you can plan your own study time, including when you submit assignments. Your personal tutor can help you to plan your studies, and your Programme Team will help you to track your pace of study.

Our distance learning programmes are structured to enable some flexibility within the overall time limits of the programme. For example, it sometimes happens that students do not make the progress they would wish to and if your studies are affected by particular circumstances, you might be able to Temporarily Withdraw from the course or apply for an extension to your course registration period.

Assignment deadlines

There are no individual assignment deadlines. You set your own deadlines in line with your personal study timetable, to ensure that you can finish your course on or before your end of registration date. Minimum pace of progress targets and study planners are also designed to help you with this.


Broadly speaking, a 20 credit module represents 200 hours of study. In practice, this can vary from module to module for a number of reasons including familiarity with the subject and continuity of study.

Study Schools

All Programmes begin with participation in a 3-4 day study school. Usually the September study schools are residential at Aberystwyth University and the Spring study schools (March/April) are online. For more information on Study Schools, see the Study Schools Section. After a certain number of module credits are completed, there may be further study schools to participate in, and all Programmes offer a dissertation school for those progressing to the dissertation.

Exit Options

All our postgraduate courses have Diploma and Certificate exit points and undergraduate courses have a Diploma exit point.

Payment Options

Students who are self-funding or partially sponsored can pay for their course one module at a time, and these can be purchased from our online shop when you are ready to start them. For students who are being 100% sponsored by employers, the fees are broken up into annual payments over three years.


Once you are registered as a student, all access to University resources, programme and module resources, and email communications, will be via your Aberystwyth University computer account.