School of Health in Social Science

PhD by Distance

The PhD by Distance programme allows students who are unable to commit to basing themselves in Edinburgh to study for a PhD in a field of Health in Social Science from their home country or city.

What's involved?

The PhD by Distance is not intended to be an online learning programme.

Students enrolled on this programme will be expected to come to Edinburgh at least once per year of study to meet with their supervisors.

The length and timing of these visits are negotiable but students should expect to spend at least two weeks at the University of Edinburgh during each year of study.

This could be for the annual review process, or to attend research training courses. It is also expected that PhD by Distance students will come to Edinburgh for their oral examination (viva voce).

PhD by Distance students will receive the same level of support and supervision as on-campus students. The frequency with which students will meet with their supervisors, and method of communication for supervision sessions, will be provisionally agreed at the point of application and confirmed during induction. This must include at least one face-to-face supervision session each year with additional meetings and communication on a regular basis.  

The PhD by Distance is available to suitably qualified applicants in the same areas as our on-campus programmes: Clinical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, Health in Social Science and Nursing Studies.

Please be aware that some funding bodies do not permit students to study by distance, for example both ESRC and AHRC regulations currently state that students must be residents at the Institution where they are studying.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for the PhD by Distance are the same as for the School’s on-campus PhD programmes.  

Applicants are required to submit the standard supporting documentation through the online application system:

  • degree certificates
  • academic transcripts
  • a research proposal
  • two Academic references
  • a certificate of English Language

In addition, applicants to the PhD by Distance will also be required to complete a PhD by Distance Applicant Admission Form.


Applicants should provide information about previous experience of distance study together with a statement detailing the potential risks and characteristics of distance learning.

Experience of studying at a distance is desirable in applying for the programme however this is not a specific requirement for admission.

It is important however that applicants demonstrate an awareness of the challenges of this mode of study.

Applicants must also provide details of the access they will have to research facilities at the normal site of study and whether a local advisor is proposed.

Applications to the PhD by Distance will only be accepted if applicants have access to local University standard library facilities and to the internet.

Applicants will also be required to have a discussion with the proposed principal supervisor and to complete a provisional study plan in consultation with them as part of the admissions process.

International students wishing to study part-time will be considered for this Distance programme.

Contact Us

If you are interested in applying for the PhD by Distance please contact Louise Carracher, for further information.