Coursesplus Study Methods Compared

Discover which type of course is right for you. Full-time, part-time, online, in-house...decisions, decisions, decisions....

If you're thinking about further study then you're not alone. Whether you are planning on joining the 2.3m students* already in undergraduate or postgraduate studies or the many more in all fields of adult education - you've got plenty of choices to make - knowing what is it you want to study, at what level, finding the course and place of study and determining what type of study method is right for you.

At Courseplus, we're here to help you make the right decisions - after all, this could be a life changing time for you and we want you to get it right.

We've put together a quick reference study guide to help you compare the different ways you can complete your course. Whether you are seeking to study full or part-time, online or in-house, we've explained each study method, who it is good for and the key features of each style.

Just click on the table below to compare study types and discover which is best for you.

KEY

Good
Neutral
Poor
  • Course Type
  • Study Method
Description Usually taught in universities, colleges and specialist institutions. Full-time students treat their studies as the main focus in their lives.
Good for Getting qualification in shortest time. Continuing path of full time education. Opening up career opportunities. Looking for complete change / new challenge.
Pros Quickest route to gain qualification. Focus entirely on your course.
Cons More expensive. More intense. Little opportunity to earn.
Flexibility Fit around work / family / care commitments.
Choice of start date.
Interaction Tutor support.
Sociable / good networking.
Suitability Suitable for practical courses.
Suitable for overseas based students.
Costs Lower living / travel expenses.
Lower fees.
Funding available.
Workload Work at own pace.
Less intensive study.
Harder to manage work & study.
Supported rather than self-motivated.
Description Enables you to study your chosen subject in a manageable way over a longer period of time.
Good for In work or seeking work but want to develop skills or career opportunities at same time, avoiding debt, carers or those with family commitments.
Pros Get new skills whilst staying in job. Train to do different job. Show commitment to employer. Experience gained in work can add to learning. Cheaper fees & spread out, lighter study work load.
Cons Takes longer to complete course. Can only work part time or fit around work. May feel like outsider. Have to juggle work, classes, and study. Reduced ability to make contacts and network.
Flexibility Fit around work / family / care commitments.
Choice of start date.
Interaction Tutor support.
Sociable / good networking.
Suitability Suitable for practical courses.
Suitable for overseas based students.
Costs Lower living / travel expenses.
Lower fees.
Funding available.
Workload Work at own pace.
Less intensive study.
Harder to manage work & study.
Supported rather than self-motivated.
Description A short learning programme through which a learner may or may not be awarded credits.
Good for Continuing professional development, to refresh your knowledge in a particular subject area or just wish to study a programme for your own interest.
Pros Quick to complete. Lower costs.
Cons Limited qualifications.
Flexibility Fit around work/ family / care commitments.
Choice of start date.
Interaction Tutor support.
Sociable / good networking.
Suitability Suitable for practical courses.
Suitable for overseas based students.
Costs Lower living / travel expenses.
Lower fees.
Funding available.
Workload Work at own pace.
Less intensive study.
Harder to manage work & study.
Supported rather than self-motivated.

Online / E-learning

Home Study

Description Web-based learning or studied online on a distance basis. Teaching is conducted through a mixture of audio-visual, written and interactive materials. Tutor will support you by phone, email or post. Teaching may be conducted through online methods or via distance learning materials.
Good for Confident learners who work well on their own. Have strong IT skills. Continuing professional development. Confident learners who work well on their own but like tutor input. Can be adapted to suit level of IT skills. Continuing professional development.
Pros Sits alongside work and personal life. No career interruption. Suited to the needs of working adults. Set your own pace. Flexibility. Students can attend courses across physical, political, and economic boundaries. No travel cost. Cheaper courses. Range of courses. Everyone gets ability to ask questions and be answered. More interaction and feedback than pure online course. No career interruption. Suited to the needs of working adults. Set your own pace. Flexibility. No travel cost. Cheaper courses.
Cons Limited social interaction. Have to be self-motivate. Funding less available. Require trainees to be computer literate. Validity of some online courses. Miss out on face-to-face interaction and feedback from tutor / peers. Have to self-motivate. Limited funding.
Flexibility Fit around work / family / care commitments. Fit around work / family / care commitments.
Choice of start date. Choice of start date.
Interaction Tutor support. Tutor support.
Sociable / good networking. Sociable / good networking.
Suitability Suitable for practical courses. Suitable for practical courses.
Suitable for overseas based students. Suitable for overseas based students.
Costs Lower living / travel expenses. Lower living / travel expenses.
Lower fees. Lower fees.
Funding available. Funding available.
Workload Work at own pace. Work at own pace.
Less intensive study. Less intensive study.
Harder to manage work & study. Harder to manage work & study.
Supported rather than self-motivated. Supported rather than self-motivated.
Description Attending a college, adult education centre or other course providers at times agreed by you and the centre. You usually work through a computer-based learning package or a tuition pack and have tutors on hand.
Good for Confident learners who work well on their own.
Pros Sits alongside work and personal life, set your own pace, flexibility.
Cons Limited social interaction. Have to self-motivate. Funding less available. Require trainees to be computer literate.
Flexibility Fit around work / family / care commitments.
Choice of start date.
Interaction Tutor support.
Sociable / good networking.
Suitability Suitable for practical courses.
Suitable for overseas based students.
Costs Lower living / travel expenses.
Lower fees.
Funding available.
Workload Work at own pace.
Less intensive study.
Harder to manage work & study.
Supported rather than self-motivated.

College based

In house

Description Academic, vocational, skills or leisure based courses offered in education establishments or local community. Training courses paid for by employer and undertaken in the workplace.
Good for Full time, par time, vocational and leisure courses. Like the interaction and support of tutor and other students. Practical & hands on vocation training. Those with supportive, development led employers. Practical skills.
Pros Wider range of skills or qualifications can be learnt from specialists. Face to face, multi-sensory styles. Interaction is immediate, build and maintain personal and professional relationships. Cost effective in terms of fees and minimal time away from work. Employer led.
Cons More expensive. Lost working time. Travel cost. Limited flexibility. Time consuming. Not tailored for individual. Limited qualifications.
Flexibility Fit around work / family / care commitments. Fit around work / family / care commitments.
Choice of start date. Choice of start date.
Interaction Tutor support. Tutor support.
Sociable / good networking. Sociable / good networking.
Suitability Suitable for practical courses. Suitable for practical courses.
Suitable for overseas based students. Suitable for overseas based students.
Costs Lower living / travel expenses. Lower living / travel expenses.
Lower fees. Lower fees.
Funding available. Funding available.
Workload Work at own pace. Work at own pace.
Less intensive study. Less intensive study.
Harder to manage work & study. Harder to manage work & study.
Supported rather than self-motivated. Supported rather than self-motivated.

*Source - 2012/13 figures from HESA http://www.hesa.ac.uk