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UCL Department of Security and Crime Science

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Distance learning

Our online courses are particularly suitable for you if you need maximum flexibility in your learning pattern and these can be taken from any worldwide location: all you need is an internet connection

They are designed to engage you in a learning experience that is inclusive and stimulating without the need to visit campus and be ‘on-site’.  

Below are some frequently asked questions which we receive and the relevant answers. We hope you find these useful.

What are the benefits of studying distance learning/on line?
  • Removes travel and entry restrictions, as well as costs, of relocation to London.
  • Flexible learning over 2-4 years (often 3 years) to fit around busy lives, careers and other commitments.
  • Study any time, anywhere – all you need is an internet connection.
  • Structured modular courses in easy-to-follow packages which are available through UCL's intuitive Virtual Learning Environment called Moodle.
  • Replay lecture material as often as you wish supplemented with additional online resources.
  • A dedicated online tutor for distance learning students offering structured and formative tutorials.
  • Access to UCL’s extensive digital resources libraries 24 hours a day.
  • Receive the same UCL qualification as students on campus.
What courses are available to study?

The following courses will be available through distance learning:

Masters Level (8 taught modules plus a dissertation)
- MSc in Crime Science
- MSc in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism
- MSc Policing


Post Graduate Diploma Level (8 taught modules)
- PG Diploma in Crime Science
- PG Diploma in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism

Post Graduate Certificate Level (4 taught modules)
- PG Certificate in Security & Crime Science

Is distance learning easier or harder than your other MSc/PG Dip/PG Cert courses?

The module syllabus is the same for all of our MSc/PG Dip/PG Cert courses. The only difference is the mode of delivery.

When does the course start?

Enrolment is at the end of September (you can enrol online) and the course will officially start at the beginning of October each year.  It will take between 2 and 4 years to complete, depending on how many modules you wish to complete each term and year. Three years is the normal completion time for most on-line students.  We recommend that students who have a lot of other commitments in their lives take only one module per term.

What support is available?
  • A dedicated programme administrator as your first point of contact for all queries.
  • A dedicated online tutor for distance learning students offering structured and formative tutorials.
  • You will also be supported by Compass- UCL's online learning orientation (found in Moodle)
How many hours of study are required?

Please note that all distance learners are expected to participate on a weekly basis with our courses. This includes checking your UCL email account and responding to necessary messages, watching lectures online, reading around topics as required and posting on Moodle forums to interact with other students and the course tutor on each module.

Each module involves 150 learning hours. Some of this will involve following video lecture material and going through lecture notes while other time will be self-directed study.  Lectures run for 10 weeks per term which roughly translates as 15 hours a week or a couple of evenings of study each week per module/part of a weekend. 

Lectures are normally two hours per week and in addition to this you are expected to complete preparatory reading in advance of watching the lectures.  The rest of this study time would be spent reading around the topic, completing assignments and/or doing examination preparation, as applicable to the assessment criteria of each particular module.

Which modules should I take and when?

For ALL our courses the first module which you must take is Foundations of security and crime science.  We recommend for Masters and Post Graduate Diploma students that they take Designing and Doing Research) in the first term of your last year as this module prepares you for carrying out independent pieces of research in the future such as your dissertation.  It is often advisable to take Quantitative Research Methods after you have completed your first year or in accordance with Designing and Doing Research.

Please note that modules are assigned to particular terms and therefore you will need to register which modules you are taking for term 1 and term 2 at the beginning of each year.

Can I study at my own pace e.g. block out weeks for learning  or do I need to study regularly e.g. on a weekly basis?

This will depend on which modules you take but for the first core module-Foundations of security and crime science you will expected to study each week and contribute towards a weekly discussion forum based upon the content of the lecture that week.

How is the course assessed?

Modules will be assessed using a range of methods such as coursework, forum discussions, presentations and examinations. You do not have to come to UCL to sit any examinations as we are able to make arrangements for you take these at particular universities, colleges and British Council locations in your home county.  Any group assignments can be worked on and presented through online chat programmes, such as Skype.

How do I access books and course materials?

You will need a computer with a moderately fast broadband internet connection. Once you are enrolled in UCL, you will receive a UCL computer account. This will give you access to UCL Library’s extensive e-resources, such as on-line academic journal access and e-books. Course materials, such as videos, can be accessed through Moodle, UCL's virtual learning environment.

Can I come to UCL for graduation?

Provided that you meet U.K. immigration requirements, you are most welcome to come to UCL for your graduation ceremony. No matter whether or not you attend the actual graduation ceremony, you will be sent your transcript and degree certificate by the university when you have successfully passed the course and all your marks have been verified by UCL Exams (this is around December if the deadline for submitting your dissertation is September).

I’m not sure which course to take? Can I transfer to a higher level course at a later date?

You are able to ‘up level’ your course as you go along providing that you successfully pass the majority of your modules.  For example, if you decide to study for the Post Graduate Certificate and then want to upgrade to the Post Graduate Diploma, we are able to transfer the modules you have already taken onto the new course.  However you would need to complete any ‘missing’ core modules for the new course that you had not yet taken along with some optional modules if necessary, so that you have passed 8 taught modules in total.  It is also possible to upgrade from the Post Graduate Diploma to the Masters by again applying to transfer and registering to take the dissertation module.  All fees for transfers are in accordance with the fees for the course to which you are transferring to and you would in effect be simply paying for the extra modules you need to take to upgrade to the next course.

Can I still apply for a scholarship as a distance learner?

Scholarships/bursaries are open to all MSc applicants and yes you are able to make an application just as all our prospective students are able to.  More details can be found in the ‘scholarships and bursaries’ tab of each separate course’s web page.  However with all scholarships and bursaries, places are limited and if you are unsuccessful we are unfortunately unable to advise on alternative means of funding.

Examination venues

Only a few of our modules have examinations.  All distance learners in the UK are required to attend the main UCL site in London to sit their examinations.  Distance learners outside of the UK should contact the department when they enrol on a module for which the assessment is an exam so that the necessary arrangements can be made for you to attend one of the UCL recognised institutions in your home country.

Will my degree certificate say that I completed the programme as a distance learner?

The degree certificate will state your award only, not the mode of study (the degree transcript will show mode of study).