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What is distance learning?

What is distance learning?
Accessible study resources and expert tutor instruction mean you’ll have the flexibility to study when and where you want.
Whatever your circumstances, gain a recognised university qualification.
Achieve your goals through part- or full-time study with ICL.
Learn more

Distance learning is going to be different to the study you’ve done before
– school, college, even university.
But it’ll be similar in many ways as well.

International College of London academic pathway ICL study
With ICL distance learning, you’ll have study materials, an online study portal, a dedicated tutor, student forums, learning events and more.As the best UK college dedicated to distance learning, we want to make sure you know what to expect as an ICL student. So we’ve put together a series of short guides on some of the aspects of studying with us.
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Explore short guides

About how to apply and what ICL study programs are.
A guide to our qualifications

If you’re new to university study in general, or want to get a better idea of how our qualifications are structured, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s start with the basics: what qualifications do we offer?

The UK’s Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) for general and vocational qualifications regulated by Ofqual categorises qualifications in England based on their size, and their level of challenge or difficulty.



Level 1

GCSE (grades D-G or 3-1)

Level 2

GCSE (grades A*-C or 9-4)

Level 3

A level

Level 4

Year 1 of a 3 year Bachelor’s degree, Higher National Certificate (HNC)

Level 5

Year 2 of a 3 year Bachelor’s degree, Higher National Diploma (HND),
Foundation degree

Level 6

Bachelor’s degree

Level 7

Postgraduate, Master’s degree

Level 8


We offer over 100 highly respected qualifications in a range of subjects.
Our course types page can tell you more about what we offer.

Each Unit = 20 credits
or 60 credits

How are they structured?

Units are the most important part of your qualification – each one covers a key area of your studies.
Each unit is worth 20 or60 credits. You’ll need to build up a set number of credits to complete your qualification.

How long will my qualification take?

Exactly how long your qualification takes will depend on how many credits you study a year and which course you choose. In this section we give you a rough idea of how long it takes, based on how most of our students study with us.

Flexible study with the ICL

Flexible study with us means you can vary how long it takes to complete your qualification. It also means you can spend more or less time studying each week, depending on what you need to do and what’s going on in your life. You’ll study your qualification on a unit -by-unit basis, so you sign up for only what you’re going to study that year. If you have other commitments (such as work, family, caring etc.) we recommend you sign up for one 30- or 60-credit units. You can often change how many units you study year-on-year.

Part-time study

60 credits a year

Certificate of Higher Education
(120 credits)
1 year
Diploma of Higher Education
(240 credits)
2 years
Bachelors/Honours degree
(360 credits)
3 years

Full-time study

120 credits a year

Certificate of Higher Education
(120 credits)
6 months
Diploma of Higher Education
(240 credits)
1 year
Bachelors/Honours degree
(360 credits)
2 years
How much time will I need each week?

The number of hours you'll need to put into studying will depend on how many credits you’re taking. Per week, that would look like:
- 60 credits (part time) : around23 to 25 hours.
- 120 credits (full time) : around 46 to 50 hours.
For useful study tips from ICL students, you can also check out our finding time page.

When can I start?

Your qualification likely to start in September, but some do have January or April start dates as well. The month you go for will decide when your academic year starts; that’ll always be 12 months long. You’ll be able to study up to 120 credits within that 6-month period.
If you need it, we can help with planning your qualification and units.

How will I study?

It’s important you know what to expect when your study starts. Take a look at the resources you’ll have access to and get an idea of what it's like to study with us.

Getting started with ICL study

About two weeks before you’re due to start, your course website will open. On there, you’ll have access to:


Study Planner

A week-by-week study planner.


The assessment section, outlining what you have to do for each assignment and when they’re due.


Course forums where you can discuss topics with other students, complete collaborative work and get some extra help if you’re stuck.

Course Materials

All the online, PDF and accessible formats of your course materials and resources.
how to study

Studying your course

Your study will either be entirely online, or a combination of online and printed unit materials.
we listen to you
If you have additional requirements, we offer alternative format materials. We’ll ask you to let us know before you start your first unit.
flexible study
Your unit website will be broken down into study weeks. And each week you’ll have a mixture of reading, videos / recordings and interactive activities to go through. Wherever you can get an internet connection, you’ll be able to study.

Other resources

Of course, being a student at the ICL means you’ll have access to a wealth of other resources as well.
We offer specialist support in the form of our Computing Helpdesk and career planning services. You’ll be able to use our career services for another three years after you stop studying with us.
after login
You’ll have your own Student Home page, which you log into through the ICL website. On there, you can:
- See all the courses and units you’ve studied or are studying.
- Access your course website.
- Submit and collect your assignments.
- Choose and enrol on your next course.
online help centre
Get access to our online Help Centre, a fantastic resource which offers general study skills advice and information about ICL study.
Tutors and tutorials

Our students tell us their tutor’s support is the most valuable element of their study. Your college experience wouldn’t be the same without their expertise. From support, feedback and tutorials, they’re here to guide you through your units.

Support throughout your study

For each course you study with us, you’ll be assigned a tutor. Before you start, your tutor will get in contact to welcome you to the course. They’ll clarify when and how to contact them, and how quickly they’ll reply to you.

Your tutor will:

Provide detailed feedback for your assessment.
Guide you to the right learning resources to improve your work.
Provide individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills, or if you’re stuck on a particular topic.
Your tutor should always be the first person you speak to if you need academic advice or guidance. They’re there to work with you and understand the specific challenges you’re facing.

How will I be assessed?

Assignments give you the opportunity to showcase what you’ve learned and build a foundation to improve on. Explore the different types of assignment we use at the ICL in the sections below.

assessment types
When your course starts you’ll have access to its unique assessment guide, which will detail what you need to do on each assignment.
Rest assured, you’ll also have a course tutor to help you with your studies. So if you’ve got a question about an assignment, they’re there to give you a hand. There will be a type of assessment throughout your study. Here’s a quick run-down of the type you may come across:
Assessor-Marked Assignments (AMAs)
- You’ll usually have a number of these throughout each unit.

- Each one can be course work, to achieve a ‘pass’ for a unit, students must provide evidence to demonstrate that they have fulfilled all the learning outcomes and meet the standards specified by all assessment criteria. Judgement that the learners have success fully fulfilled the assessment criteria is made by the assessor.

- They’ll each have a submission deadline.

-  When your assessor returns them, they’ll provide you with detailed feedback on where you can improve.
Support and the ICL community

If you think distance learning means studying alone, think again. When you study with us, you'll gain access to the UK's largest student community. Whatever your needs may be, we’re here to support you.

assessment types
Each course you study will have dedicatedforums. While you’ll mostly use them to discuss topics about your module orcomplete group work, you can always use them to ask for a bit of input whenyou’re stuck. Course tutors will engage with and moderate the forums as well,so they can join in if they need to.
Assessor-Marked Assignments (AMAs)
You’ll have access to a subject-specificStudent Support Team. If you have any general questions about your study, orare struggling and need to talk through your options, they're there for you.