What are my distance learning degree top up options?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

The internet has revolutionised the way we study, opening up lots of new and exciting ways to earn a degree qualification. Distance learning allows you to gain an Honours degree in a more affordable, flexible way, by studying full time or part time from home.

Top up degree courses are ideally suited to distance learning. They typically only take one to two years to complete and are easy to fit around existing work and life commitments.

If you’re thinking about studying for your top-up degree online, what are your options?

Subjects available

You’ll find a wide range of distance learning top-up degrees to choose from. An increasing number of BA (Hons) qualifications are available to study online.

Popular subject areas include:

  • Business – with specialisms in things like Finance, Marketing, and Tourism
  • Business management
  • Accounting
  • Computing
  • Retail management
  • Logistics management
  • Engineering management and more

How to study?

You also have several study routes that you can choose between. Whatever learning pathway you choose, you’ll qualify with the same fully accredited bachelor’s degree.

  • Online full time – studying online full time is the fastest route to qualifying with a top-up degree. Full-time courses typically take one year to complete, but do require more study hours.
  • Online part time – one of the most flexible ways to earn your top-up degree, studying part time makes it easier to fit your studies around existing work or family commitments. You can choose when you want to study, as course materials and resources are available online 24/7. Studying part time means it’ll take you a little longer to qualify, however. Part-time top-up degree courses typically take two years to complete.
  • Work-based distance learning degrees – this method of distance learning involves studying online as well as learning in the workplace. Courses are tailored to your existing job, and a college or university will work hand-in-hand with your employer to create a degree programme that builds on your existing work experience. It means you don’t have to give up an existing job or salary to get the degree qualification you want, and it guarantees that the knowledge and skills you acquire are truly relevant to your specific industry and workplace.
  • Blended learning – this relatively recent top-up degree route involves a mixture of online learning and traditional classroom-based learning. There’s a degree of flexibility, while providing students who prefer the more structured approach of class-based learning with the reassurance and confidence they need. It does mean that you need to be able to get to the campus with ease, so the location of your chosen college or university becomes an important consideration when choosing your course.

In each case you should get in touch with the college or university you’re interested in, to find out more about the hours required for each course. This way you can make a realistic assessment of which study method is the best fit for you and your existing work and family commitments.

Entry dates

Another area in which distance learning top-up degree courses present great flexibility is in terms of start dates. With most campus-based degrees you’re restricted to starting in September only. With most online-based top-up courses you can start at various dates throughout the year, beginning your studies when it’s convenient for you. At the University of Lincoln you can choose to join their WBDL programmes at four points throughout the year: September, November, February and May.

Entry requirements

Top-up degrees are for those who have successfully completed an HND (Higher National Diploma) or Foundation Degree and want to further their studies to a final year of an Honours degree programme. Most courses will require you to have an HND or Foundation Degree qualification in a relevant subject.

WBDL top-up courses are slightly different, as these also take your work experience into account. As a guide, the University of Lincoln requires a recent level 5 qualification (up to 5 years old) and ongoing employment in a relevant field to the course subject area. But they may also accept candidates with a level 4 qualification or extensive work experience, under certain conditions.

If you’re unsure whether you meet the specific entry requirements set by a college or university, get in touch with their admissions service for further guidance. For WBDL courses in particular you may find that there’s some leeway, as these courses take into consideration your work experience as well as your educational qualifications.


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