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Modes of Study

Nowadays there are lots of different types of learning opportunities available, to suit just about everyone, depending on how you prefer to learn and how much time you have available to study each week.

Once you’ve chosen the best course option for you, you also need to consider the different modes of study available. Common study options are:

Click on a row below to reveal further information.

Study option What’s involved Benefits Example Providers
Part time Varies from course to course, and can take place in the evening/weekends as well as in the daytime. Flexible and allows you to balance study with other commitments to your work or family. Useful if you want to change career or get into a new job. Most learning providers offer courses on a part-time or flexible basis and some providers such as The Open University are specifically designed to support learners who have other commitments.
Full time Most full time courses require at least 16 hours of study in the classroom, although the exact requirements will vary from course to course. Allows you to achieve a qualification in the shortest possible time Colleges of Further and Higher Education offer full-time courses for people who want to focus intensively on getting a qualification
Short courses Typically courses are run over a day or few days Allows you to study Modules on a concentrated basis whilst being flexible enough to fit your lifestyle. There are a wide range of organisations offering short courses, including many voluntary and community organisations. The Workers Educational Association is one of the largest providers
Work based learning Courses are taught in your place of work (examples of work-based qualifications are Apprenticeships and Traineeship). The qualifications tend to be ‘competence-based’ which means you develop the skills and knowledge to do your job effectively. Most Colleges of Further Education provide work-based learning courses, as do many private and voluntary sector Training Providers.
Distance learning Involves learning from your own home rather than travelling to a college. The materials and resources you need are provided in different formats (from print and eBooks to online videos). Good for people in remote locations or with other commitments or requirements which means they want to learn from home. Many types of providers offer courses on a distance learning basis, and organisations such as The Open University and National Extension College were set up to provide this type of learning
Part-time - Day and Block Release Study in the classroom in regular scheduled sessions (such as one day a week, or with each module taught in a single one-week block). Fewer hours per week required than a full-time course. Good to for people in work who want to develop their skills. Many Vocational qualifications are offered on this basis to fit around work, and examples include Vocational courses delivered by colleges and universities
Blended Learning using a mix of classroom based sessions and intensive blocks of face-to-face teaching and online and digital content, instruction and activities. Suitable for you if you want to learn in a group but combined with study from home to reduce travel costs. Sometimes Tuition Fees are cheaper compared to other modes. Blended learning is offered in a range of education contexts, including for many Vocational qualifications which include learning at work. LearnDirect is a national body which offers courses locally at a network of centres supported by online materials
Open learning This approach to learning draws on the wide range of free materials and interactive content which many learning providers are now making available on an open-access basis. You usually use a computer to access the learning online. Open learning gives you complete flexibility and choice over what, when, at what pace, where, and how you study. There are a growing number of open leaning options, including those provided through FutureLearn and OpenLearn
Union-Learning Many unions have a strong focus to engage their members in development opportunities. Union-led courses can be delivered through an employer or online Unionlearn is part of the Trades Union Congress – it represents over 50 unions in delivering learning opportunities to their members.

Adult learning is increasingly flexible, offering you choices about when, where and how you learn. Most providers of education and training offer a range of ways of completing a course or studying for a particular qualification so once you have chosen a course make sure you ask them about all the different study options available to you.

Even if you choose flexible study, such as distance learning in your own time, you will still be part of a community of students and will have the use of electronic chat rooms and message boards which means you can meet new people and keep you in touch with other learners. Plus, you will get support from tutors online or telephone tutorial support, which will help to keep you on-track and make sure you get the most out of your course.