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What you need to consider when choosing an online course

One of the many benefits of the digital age has been the development and growth of online study. Advancements in technology have helped strip some of the barriers potential students face, meaning education has never been as accessible as it is right now. Whilst there are many benefits of online study, there are several things to take into account before you commit to a course. Below we discuss how to choose an online course and highlight some of the things you need to consider.

By Grant Longstaff. Published 29 November 2023.


Not everyone can commit to a fixed study schedule, so flexibility is one of the biggest appeals for online learners. When it comes to choosing a course you’ll first need to acknowledge your existing obligations – work, childcare, family commitments, etc. – and then research the level of commitment required for the course. Most providers will outline what they expect from their students, so ensure you can meet their demands in order to maximise your chances of success.


An aspect closely linked to flexibility is the length of the course. How long is the online course? Whilst online learning can be less prescriptive, a full time program of study can be just as demanding as attending in person. If you can’t fully commit to full time then it could be more beneficial to explore a part time option. Work out how many hours you can commit per week. Avoid unnecessary pressure and choose a time frame which best suits your lifestyle.

Course content

Before you commit to a course ensure you research exactly what it covers and check it meets your needs. Does it cover areas which support your future goals? Do the modules on offer interest you? You’ll be more motivated to sit down and study if the content gets you excited. It’s also important to investigate how the course is taught, as a range of delivery methods will help keep your learning fresh and engaging.


When it comes to online learning reputation is everything. First of all, you’ll need to consider the reputation of the learning provider. Research them thoroughly. What do former students say? What does the support for online learners look like? What do they offer students beyond the course? For instance, our Employability Service and Alumni Network highlight some of the additional benefits we offer our learners.

It’s also important to consider the reputation of the course itself. Has the course been accredited? Is the course recognised by a representative body? For example, our online MSc in Psychology (conversion) is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), and several of our leadership, management, and human resource MSc courses are accredited and professionally-recognised by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).


We’ve touched on the importance of how course content is delivered, but it’s also good to check how much engagement and support you’ll receive. Are you able to access the course materials with ease? Will you have regular catch ups with your lecturers to discuss your progress? Are there forums or message boards where you can chat and meet with your fellow students? Online study doesn’t have to be a lonely pursuit just because you’re not on campus. The best course providers will aim to cultivate a community and ensure there are plenty of ways to engage with both staff and students.


This follows nicely on from our previous point. Trade knowledge. Support your peers with the areas they find tricky. Likewise, don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it. Sometimes you just need to talk through an idea or concept to help make sense of it. No matter how you study, it’s good to have a group of people to turn to for advice and support. Engage with your fellow learners throughout. You never know – an opportunity could arise from the friendships you forged during your online study.

Ultimately, finding the course that’s best for you will take some time, but the research will be worth it. Explore exactly what the course covers, what the provider offers, and ensure it’s the right fit for you and your circumstances.


Are you considering online learning? Explore our range of online courses and find out more.