The distance learning PhD programmes at Manchester Metropolitan University are ideally suited for those who want to develop their professional careers without having to leave employment, as well as those who may have personal commitments that preclude traditional on-campus study.

Under the guidance of distinguished academics, doctoral candidates study full- or part-time for a period of three to six years. Flexibly designed, our PhD programmes are tailored to meet individual needs across a wide range of academic subject areas. 

Our distance learning PhD programmes offer great opportunities for world-class professionals who are passionate about their field and are looking to expand their horizons.

Watch our video on Distance learning PhD programmes

Distance Learning

Key Features

Below are some of the key features of our distance learning PhD programmes. 

  • The programmes can be studied full time (3 years) or part time (6 years)
  • Meetings with supervisors will take place via Skype (or an equivalent platform) at mutually convenient times
  • Research training will be provided via online platforms, such as webinars
  • Travel to Manchester may be necessary for the final oral defense (the viva voce exam), though students are welcome – and indeed encouraged – to visit during the course of their studies
  • Distance learning PhD students may be eligible to apply to undertake their oral examinations via Skype (or equivalent platform). Please refer to the policy for information on how to apply.
  • Distance learning PhD students are eligible to apply for university assistance towards conference attendance (whether inside or outside the UK)

Distance learning students are connected to Manchester throughout their studies:

  • In addition to scheduled meetings, supervisors and students will be in regular contact
  • We have a thriving community of research students from across the world; they use our online chat forums to exchange ideas, views, experiences, and opinions with other research students across the university
  • Every faculty has an elected student representative who acts as a bridge between learners and the university
  • Every year we run a Postgraduate Research Conference which enables our PhD students to present their research findings; distance learners are encouraged to take part, either in person or via Skype
  • Our annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, in which PhD students record a 3-minute video describing their research, is open to all PhD students
  • Distance learning PhD students can also connect to the university, its staff and student community via Twitter

Subject Areas Available

Supervision is available in the following subjects:

For further details, please click on the above links.

For general enquiries about distance learning in the Humanities Faculty, please contact Professor Lloyd Strickland via

Entry Requirements

For distance learning PhD programmes, students should have a good honours degree and ideally have completed a Master’s degree in a relevant subject.

Those students whose first language is not English will require an IELTS score of 6.5 (no component below 6.0) or equivalent English Language qualification.

Before applying for a research degree, applicants should have a preliminary discussion with a member of staff to discuss a proposed research project.

How to Apply

For information and guidance on how to apply for a distance learning PhD go to Applying for Postgraduate Research Course

Please note that you will be asked to submit an 'Additional Information Form for a Distance Learning PhD‌', you will find this on the above web page.

Research Degrees Fees Information

Refer to our Fees pages for information about tuition fees for Home/EU and Overseas students, as well as further information on applicable Additional Project Costs and available studentship opportunities.

Individual applicants may be entitled to assistance under the FAFSA scheme. Further details may be found here.


Shandon L. Guthrie
Las Vegas, USA
PhD Philosophy Graduate, full-time

Shandon Guthrie‘There are few academic experiences in my history that I would say have changed my life for the better, and my PhD programme in philosophy through MMU sits as the highest on this list. From my matriculation to my graduation, MMU exhibited an unparalleled professionalism in guiding me through the various steps of my studies. Their close attention to providing every resource at my disposal along with a genuine concern for how I was being treated by MMU put me at ease. As an international student, it made me feel comfortable knowing that they care greatly for their students in this way.

My supervisor exceeded my expectations in every possible way. From his scholarly guidance to the rigor of his feedback, he drove me to produce no less than high quality work. He was not only an indispensable educational guide, he was a mentor and friend who encouraged me every step of the way.’

Watch our interview with Dr Shandon L. Guthrie 

Sass Brown
New York, USA
PhD Apparel Graduate, part-time

Sass Brown‘I have had the pleasure of starting my PhD remotely. My advisors have been as accessible and responsive as if I were on the campus. Our regular Skype sessions have substituted for in person meetings, and nothing has suffered through that substitution. Their advisement has been just as complete and detailed as if in person. It is quite possible that this process has encouraged my own organization and record keeping. So many of the support materials are also online, including instruction, workshops, and information, that I don’t believe there has been any significant difference in the process or the outcome of my work.’

Willy Legrand
Bonn, Germany
PhD Hospitality Management, part-time

Willy Legrand‘As I embarked on the PhD journey, one of the decisive factors in choosing the right programme was the flexibility it would offer in terms of on-site attendance. Working full-time and having to support a family, it became essential that I could conduct my research at distance while still benefit from active supervision. Manchester Metropolitan’s PhD programme offered this possibility. I received regular and thoughtful feedback from my supervisors over the course of my research. While at distance, the attentive support I received was critical in driving my research to an end. The PhD journey has been instrumental in learning how to conduct quality research and for further career development.’

Frequently Asked Questions

Distance Learning - What can I expect?

  • Once registered, students are required to complete online induction, which outlines the research journey, the role and responsibilities of the student and the supervisor, and the pre-registration and registration processes.
  • Students will have regular meetings with supervisors who will guide and advise on the research. The meetings will take place via Skype (or an equivalent platform) at mutually convenient times.
  • Students also follow a supporting programme of research training provided via online workshops that can be accessed at any time. The precise programme will be tailored to each student’s needs, and will be decided by discussion between each student and his/her supervisors.
  • Students wishing to present their research at national or international conferences can apply for university assistance towards conference attendance.
  • Once students have completed their programme of study, their final submission is examined in a viva-voce examination (oral defence). This normally takes place in Manchester, however some students are eligible to apply to do their oral examination via video conference. 

Distance learning students receive the same level of dedicated support as students based on campus and are connected to Manchester throughout their studies via:

  • Regular meetings with supervisors (conducted through Skype or equivalent)
  • Access to MMU library resources, with full training provided
  • Participation in our online chat forums for our community of research students
  • Elected student representatives who act as a bridge between learners and the university
  • An annual postgraduate research conference which enables research students to present their work in a supportive environment. Distance learners can take part either in person or via Skype
  • Our annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, in which doctoral researchers give an engaging presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes. We encourage distance learners to get in touch with us if they would like to participate

How will supervision take place?

Meetings with supervisors are a vital part of your studies and will be held on a regular basis. As a distance-learning student, your meetings will take place via Skype, or an equivalent platform. You will need to make sure you have access to the required equipment and infrastructure to make these meetings possible.

Will I receive research training?

Yes. Full-time research students follow an approved supporting programme of study equivalent to two weeks of study per year, and part-time students half that. These activities provide personal and professional skills and the skills necessary to attain competence in research methods and knowledge related to the subject of the thesis. View our PGR Training and Development Brochure 2019/20 for more information about opportunities available.

Will I need to come to Manchester?

You may need to travel to Manchester for your viva (final oral examination), which will be held on campus. However, in some cases, you can apply to do your oral examination via a pre-approved video conferencing platform. Read more about the Oral Examination by Video Conferencing Policy October 2019, including eligibility criteria.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to attend induction in the first 12 months of starting your studies. We would encourage you to visit Manchester at other times during your period of study, to meet your supervisory team face-to-face, to present your research at conferences and to get a feel for the university, but there are no formal requirements for you to do this, and if you are unable to do so, your studies will not be affected. Visits to Manchester, including that required for the viva, will be at your own expense, or that of your sponsor (if you have one). Please note that travel to the UK for study purposes may require a Visa. For further information, see

When does the programme begin?

We accept new enrolments for most programmes in January, April, July, and September each year (please confirm with Faculty Research Degree contacts). In order to give us sufficient time to process your application, we would recommend applying at least three months in advance of your preferred start date.

Postgraduate Study