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The School of Advanced Study offers students with an appropriate topic and level of local resource the opportunity to undertake a PhD by 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 (three years full time, six years part time).

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

Course structure

Compulsory attendance in London is required on three occasions: 

  • Induction, the first week of the first term, to meet supervisors and to undertake an intensive research training course (an optional second week of research training is offered that can be completed either in the week after the initial compulsory induction week or online during the first term);  
  • The point of upgrade to PhD status (usually between years 1 and 2 for full time students and between years 3 and 4 for part-time students)
  • The final viva (oral defence of the thesis)

Note: The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies' week-long induction/research training for research students (whether on campus or distance learning) is usually held in January. 

The induction week provides guidance in the following areas:

  • Research ethics
  • Academic writing
  • Working with your supervisor
  • Planning your thesis
  • Building a bibliography
  • Working in archives

Students are required to engage with further research training online as their programme commences.

The programme is run on the same basis as campus-based programmes.  Regular contact with the supervisor is required via video conferencing software.  Students will meet with their supervisor in the induction week where future arrangements will be made for the occurrence and means in which meetings will take place.  Students will need to demonstrate that they have the appropriate local resources, IT equipment and infrastructure before they can commence study.

Students will benefit from the School’s extensive research training portfolio, online e-resources, podcasting, video recordings, transcriptions and live streaming of research seminars on a wide range of topics to help them complete their research degree. 

Research modules will include, but are not limited to, Organising Successful Academic Events, Getting Research Published, Public Speaking, Research Data and Ethics.

Distance students will be supported in the same way that the on-campus students are with the use of video conferencing to supplement face-to-face interaction. Within the induction week distance students will be given the opportunity to meet their student representatives and other students beginning their PhD.

To ensure that the 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 Institute and supervisory team recommended.


For complete fees and funding information, please visit the relevant course page

Distance Learning Subject Areas