About distance learning
Distance learning enables you to study the same sorts of modules as if studying on campus. You use materials prepared and supported by our academics, who are experts not just in their chosen fields, but also in working with distance learners.
You can fit your study around existing commitments and lifestyle.
Our tutors have a long tradition of distance learning and have the expertise and resources to support you and ensure you get the most from your studies.
How will I study?
Distance learning is not exclusively online.
On successful enrolment, you will receive a study pack compiled by your course tutors. The pack includes a module guide with course notes, core readings, links to further readings and essay questions.
The course materials, together with practical information to help you through the course, are also available on Moodle, our virtual learning environment.
Tutors give advice and support by email, MS Teams chat video calls and through forums on Moodle.
We have reciprocal agreements between university libraries, which permit you to use the facilities at the libraries nearest your home.
We have a range of innovative videos developed at Nottingham and being used as learning resources around the world. We are constantly adding to our collections.
There is no need to visit the University in person to successfully complete the course. We have many successful graduates who we have never met in person! However, if you wish to visit you will receive a warm welcome.
We hold an annual residential seminar in the spring. In addition to meeting other distance learners, you'll have the chance to meet full-time, campus-based students as well as academic and administrative staff. There is a programme of seminars and lectures as well as time to use the library and soak up the atmosphere.
Frequently asked questions
What are the deadlines for applications?
If you wish to start on 1 October, you must submit your application by 1 August. Delays in applications being processed are usually caused by the late arrival of references (letters of recommendation). Please encourage your referees to write as soon as possible.
Are the distance learning MA courses eligible for US federal loans?
At present, distance learning courses are not eligible for US federal loans.
US students on distance learning programmes may still apply for private loans. Our Federal Aid team can provide contacts and advice - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is any financial aid available from the University of Nottingham?
Who should I ask to be my referees?
Ideally, university tutors who knew you when you were studying for your first degree. However, we know that this may not be possible or appropriate if you studied a long time ago. In that case, ask a colleague, minister or friend who currently knows you well, and can comment on your academic interests and reasons for wanting to pursue the course.
It must be clearly stressed that the University puts considerable weight on the content of references, so it is worth asking your referees to focus their comments on your academic abilities and aptitude for further study. It should be noted that the University has had to reject references; in one case when the applicant asked his wife to write on his behalf, and in others when the referee commented on the applicant in a purely social or religious capacity: 'I attended his wedding 25 years ago....' 'I have been her vicar for the past 5 years...' with no further academic observations.
I'm trying to choose between studying over two, three or four years. How would I plan my studies over these different lengths of time?
- Studying over 2 years - you will study a minimum of 80 credits in your first year, and 100 credits in your second year (40 credits of modules and a 60 credit dissertation).
- Studying over 3 years - you will study a minimum of 60 credits per year.
- Studying over 4 years - you will study a minimum of 40 credits per year, and 60 credits in your final year for your dissertation.
If I register to pursue an MA over four years, can I complete sooner?
Yes, though you will need to have paid all fees prior to graduation.
If I register to pursue the MA over two years, can I extend my registration if I don’t complete on time?
Yes, though it should be noted that there are no circumstances under which the University would grant a registration of more than four years.
Do I receive an award if I don’t complete the MA?
Yes. We know life can intervene in any study plans so we have awards if you complete a certain amount of work but not the complete MA.
- Postgraduate Certificate - if you complete 60 credits worth of modules
- Postgraduate Diploma - if you complete 120 credits worth of modules
How long does a module take?
In theory, a 20-credit module should equate to 200 notional study hours, and a 30-credit module to 300 notional study hours. In practice, the amount of time taken to complete modules successfully does vary. Once you've started your degree, you should get into the habit of always having relevant reading 'on the go'. Whether you are working on one module every three, four or six months, it is essential you set aside regular periods for concentrated study, particularly as you move from reading the course materials to writing your essay.
How many books or articles am I expected to read in the preparation of my essay?
There is no definitive answer on this. Obviously, the more work that goes into your essay, the more you will get out of it, and the higher the mark is likely to be. A lot depends on the nature of the question. If you were doing a close analysis of a particular text, you would be likely to use fewer sources than if you were answering a broader question on a larger topic or period, in which you might be making relatively brief reference to a larger number of sources.
Are the distance learning Masters degrees intended to lead to doctoral study?
Students pursue an MA for many reasons. Sometimes students move onto a PhD. The distance learning Masters courses provide excellent preparation for doctoral studies.
I have a 2:2 degree completed some years ago. Should I still consider applying?
The admissions requirements suggest a 2:1 or first class degree in theology or a cognate discipline (eg, history). However, every application is considered individually on its merits. If you believe that you have developed personally and academically since achieving your first degree and can show good reasons why you are enthused by the academic study of theology, it is certainly worth applying.
What is the US GPA equivalent of the UK entry requirements?
The standard entry requirement for US students is a GPA of 3.3 or above with a major in a relevant discipline (eg, philosophy, history or religion). However, every application is considered individually on its merits.
I have a first degree in science/social science. Can I apply?
You should consider the very considerable challenges of launching into a new subject at masters level. For example, you may be unfamiliar with the practice of researching and writing long essays. You'll have to become familiar with the concepts, language, method and history of Systematic and Philosophical Theology.
If you don't have an existing qualification in Theology and Religious Studies but believe that you have aptitude, determination and prior experience we suggest you contact the course director for advice. If you submit an application you'll need to explain in that why you think you'll succeed on the course.
Should I contact the Course Director before applying?
It is not necessary, however, we are always happy to hear from prospective applicants and offer further advice.