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Frequently asked questions: distance learning

Am I eligible to apply for the course?

The School’s distance learning courses are run in collaboration with the University of London International Programmes. Full details of the qualifications and experience required for eligibility to the School’s distance learning courses, and links to apply online, can be found at:

PG Certificate, PG Diploma and MSc in Clinical Trials

PG Certificate, PG Diploma and MSc in Epidemiology

PG Certificate, PG Diploma and MSc in Global Health

Policy PG Certificate, PG Diploma and MSc in Infectious Diseases

PG Certificate, PG Diploma and MSc in Public Health

Applicants who don't meet these requirements are encouraged to apply and their applications will be considered on an individual basis.

When do the courses start? Can I apply now?

The courses run from October each year. The deadline date for submission of applications has been extended for the 2015 entry and is now 31 July (10 September for Clinical Trials) for those wishing to start the course the following October. Those who do not wish to register for a formal award and just wish to study one or two modules individually, may also apply up until 10 September.

How long does it take to complete a course?

The distance learning Postgraduate Certificate can be completed in a year - students are required to study either four (CT, Epidemiology, GHP and ID) or six (PH) core modules (registration is for a maximum of five years). However, those registered for the Distance Learning Postgraduate Diploma or MSc degrees take a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years to complete the course. Many students find that, due to changes in personal circumstances over the period of their registration, they are taking longer than they originally expected to finish their course.

I am interested in studying public health but am unsure whether to apply for the MSc Public Health course or for the MSc Global Health Policy. What is the difference between the two courses?

Public Health is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community which can be as small as a handful of people or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents, for instance in the case of a pandemic. Global Health is the health of populations in a global context that is about worldwide improvement of health, reduction of disparities, and protection against global threats that disregard national borders. It often focuses on health problems that transcend national borders or have a global political and economic impact.

The MSc Global Health Policy course takes a multidisciplinary approach and aims to provide students with an understanding of health determinants and outcomes that transcend national boundaries and the policy responses required to protect and promote population health in a globalising world. This graduate degree is suitable for both health and non-health professionals and gives them a competitive edge over other professionals and enables professionals to assume positions related to issues of global health policy in national, regional or global health organisations, health-related research institutions, non-governmental organisations and private consultancies.

Do I have to have a medical background to study the Clinical Trials or Epidemiology courses?

No, there are students on both courses who have no medical background, and the course teams are careful to ensure that the materials and assessments do not assume medical knowledge. However, some work experience in a health care setting etc is desirable (but not essential). Therefore, a lack of medical background should not significantly affect a student’s progress at all - but there may be some times when some medical knowledge might help put a problem into context, help you think about possible risk factors etc.  A good medical dictionary can often be all that is needed though.

I am not sure whether I wish to register for the full MSc at this stage. What do you advise?

Students can register for the Postgraduate Certificate (GHP only) or Diploma. Registration can be transferred to either the Postgraduate Diploma or MSc degree after successful completion of the core modules. (There is no additional registration fee payable for transfers from the PG Certificate/Diploma to the MSc.)

If I register initially for the Certificate or Diploma, and I decide to continue my studies and register for the MSc, will I be awarded both the intermediate award and the MSc?

No, students will receive the award at the stage they exit the programme. You need to complete the required elements of the award and therefore be assigned the correct number of credits for the award to be approved.

Do I have to pay for the whole course when I register?

No, you have to pay for the initial course registration plus the fee for at least one module. The remainder of the payments can be spread over the length of time it takes you to complete the course, paying once a year in August/September when you register online for the modules you wish to study during the forthcoming year. Please note that students who take this option are liable to pay any annual fee increases.

I only want to study one or two of the modules initially. Can I do this?

Yes, you can apply to study individual modules, rather than for a full award. If you then decide to register for a full award at a later stage, any individual modules successfully passed and credits obtained, can be transferred to the relevant award, as long as it meets the requirements of the specific course, and this is requested within 3 years of having completed the assessment for the module.

Is there a minimum number of modules I have to complete in any one year?

No, it is up to individual students to organise their own workload. Students may register for only one module, or up to four/six core modules, in any one year depending on the course taken. They will not usually receive elective module materials until successful completion of a minimum number of core modules and may then register for between one and eight elective modules in any year, again depending on the course taken. The course registration period lasts five years. If a student registers to study individual modules only, the registration period is two years.

What happens if I pay for and register for modules but find I am unable to study them during the year, due to other commitments?

Current students have access to an online registration and fee payments system which should be used to pay for and register for the modules they wish to study the following year. Students should also register for modules which they haven’t yet completed and wish to continue to study i.e. modules for which a student has registered, paid and have received the study material for but for which they haven’t yet completed the assessment/examination. In this way, we are kept informed of which modules being studied and students can be sent any updated study materials. (Study material including assessment information is often updated during July/August.) Students only pay once for a module, at the time of initial registration for that module.

Can I pay and register for modules throughout the year?

No, students must complete continuing registration by 30 September each year indicating which new modules they wish to study, and which modules they are continuing to study from previous years (i.e. which haven’t yet been completed).

I am not sure how much time I will have to study during the year. How is the study year organised?

Students begin their studies in October and can work at their own pace throughout the year. Assignment deadlines vary between modules and courses, but most fall between the end of February and mid May, while two of the Epidemiology module deadlines are the end of August. The exams are held annually, usually in June. Those wishing to sit exams must complete and submit an exam entry form by 1 February of the year in which they wish to sit the exams. Some of the courses have a project option which runs during the final year of study, particularly during the summer months June-August. Final project reports must be submitted for marking by the end of September.

May I take any modules at the London School?

Students registered for the distance learning MSc who have successfully completed a minimum number of core modules may also be permitted to study up to two “face-to-face” modules at LSHTM in place of distance learning modules, if they wish. This is termed “blended learning” study. The School’s in-house modules entail very intensive study over 5 weeks, and DL students are advised that they are unlikely to be able to carry out any other studies during their period at the School. There is an additional fee for taking modules in this way. DL students wishing to study at the School must also make their own travel and accommodation arrangements. Information about this mode of study and the modules available will be sent to DL students in July each year. Not all the DL modules have an equivalent in-house module.

I have other qualifications - will I be eligible for exemption from parts of your course because of this?

Accreditation of prior learning will only be recognised for courses/modules previously undertaken at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine only. We do not currently recognise or accredit prior learning from external institutions.

Are there any School's bursaries or scholarships for which I can apply, to help me pay the Distance Learning course fees?

Please see the School's funding pages for details of any distance learning course scholarships. The School is currently engaged in a fundraising campaign and provision of scholarships for students (distance learning and London-based) is one of the priority areas.

What sort of tutorial and student support do the Distance Learning students receive?

Distance Learning students are not allocated personal tutors, but have regular access to academic tutors. Students are supplied with contact details of other distance learning students and encouraged to set up their own support groups. Students also have access to the School's Virtual Learning Environment through which they take part in discussions, receive support from tutors and fellow students on individual modules, and access online library and other module resources. In addition, distance learning students will receive written academic feedback from tutors on assignments.

How are the modules graded? What sort of certificate will I receive at completion?

Modules are graded on a scale of between 0-5. Students receive a transcript of their module results every year and a diploma on completion confirming their award. The diploma indicates whether the qualification was awarded at "Pass" or at "Distinction" level.