Online / distance learning
Our online/distance learning courses are specifically designed for people living in the UK and overseas, who are unable to attend our face-to- face lectures.
What can I study?
- Undergraduate degrees:
- Geology (BSc with Distance Learning option)
- Planetary Sciences with Astronomy (BSc with Distance Learning option)
- Earth Sciences (BSc with Distance Learning option)
- Environmental Geology (BSc with Distance Learning option)
- Earth History and Palaeontology (Certificate of Higher Education with Distance Learning option)
- Environmental Geology (Graduate Certificate with Distance Learning option)
- Forensic Geology (Certificate of Higher Education with Distance Learning option)
- Geology (Certificate of Higher Education with Distance Learning option)
- Geology (Graduate Certificate with Distance Learning option)
- Mineralogy and Volcanology (Certificate of Higher Education with Distance Learning option)
- Planetary Geology (Certificate of Higher Education with Distance Learning option)
What equipment will I need?
- Courses for distance learning are available in Moodle, a web-based environment, where students can access course materials and where we provide access to videos of our lectures.
- In order to study by distance learning at Birkbeck, you will need a computer, an internet connection and a valid email address.
- Course materials including videos are now also available for mobile devices such as iPhones.
When can I study my modules?
- The academic year runs from October (or September in some years) to the end of June. It is divided into three terms of 11 weeks' duration each: an autumn term from October to mid-December, a spring term running from January to March and a summer term from the end of April until the end of June.
- Half-modules, such as Invertebrate Palaeontology run for 11 weeks during either the autumn term or spring term. Full modules such as Introduction to Geology run for 22 weeks during the autumn and spring terms.
- Distance learning students are required to study their modules at the same time as the face-to-face students. This will ensure that you receive all the additional material (e.g. essay topics, deadlines, additional background reading recommendations, up-to-date information, videos of lectures, information about field classes associated with the module) at the same time as the face-to-face students.
Can I meet the tutors and the other students?
- We actively encourage our distance learning students to feel part of a wider group of students, including other distance learners and face-to-face students.
- We encourage distance learners to join in the face-to-face activities as much as possible. This is sometimes known as 'blended learning'. You will find that attending lectures or field classes whenever possible, coming to Saturday sessions, revision classes and making other visits to the School (e.g. for social events and Student Geol-Soc lectures) will give you a much greater sense of belonging to the School.
Do I have to attend field classes?
- Some of our undergraduate courses do not require field classes, but if you are studying at a distance, we will strongly encourage you to take part in them, as they give you the opportunity to meet staff, other distance learners, and face-to-face students. For information, however:
- Field classes are compulsory for our BSc Geology and BSc Environmental Geology.
- If you would prefer to study a degree without a field class, you can choose either BSc Earth Science and BSc Planetary Science with Astronomy, where field classes are optional.
- Find out more about fieldwork options.
How much contact should I expect?
- Studying at a distance doesn't mean that you have to feel isolated. Our module tutors will keep in active contact with you throughout your course.
- At the beginning of the module, the tutor will send you a ‘welcome’ email.
- This will contain general information about the module, its structure and communication with the tutor.
- It will also ask you if you are prepared to have your email address distributed to other students on the module. The module tutor will then set up an email group list, and will encourage students to communicate with each other by email.
- The welcome e-mail will also include information about the demonstrator on the module, with whom you can also correspond by email. The demonstrator is usually a PhD student and often a former Birkbeck undergraduate.
When are examinations held?
- Examinations are usually held in late May and early June, for all modules. You will need to book time off work during the examination period.
- Students who live in the UK will normally be expected to come to London to sit the examinations with the face-to-face students in Birkbeck. Under exceptional circumstances, local centres can be arranged.
- Non-UK students will sit their examinations at a centre in arrangement with the Registry (e.g. British Council office).
- Find out more about our examination processes and procedures.
What happens with regards to coursework?
- Some of the work you will be asked to complete is intended to provide a vehicle for feedback, whereas other pieces of work are for formal assessment. In the latter case, a tutor may wait until all of the students have submitted the coursework before marking it.
- In most cases, you will receive the coursework back after the end of the examinations (or before the examinations if the work is for feedback).You will need to keep a copy of the material if you wish to use it for revision purposes.
Can I use the College library?
- Distance learning students within the UK have the same borrowing rights in the BBK library as face-to-face students, but you will have to join a postal scheme in order to have a book posted to you or to obtain a photocopy of a journal article.
- We have a very extensive electronic library for research articles which is actually the main source of material you will be referred to. This can be accessed on line via the internet form your location.
- Find out more about library access for distance learning students.
Find out more