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Distance study connects you with the best minds without leaving your home or workplace. A large number of distance students are involved in postgraduate distance study, working to advance their careers or keep abreast of the latest developments in their field.

There are a range of frequently asked questions below. You may also like to review the following:


How are distance papers taught at Otago?

Distance learning involves self-directed study using course material and completing assessments. Some papers involve attendance at on campus residential schools. Interaction with other students and lecturers might be by audio conference, web conference or online discussion forums. Course material may be provided through in hard copy, or online material.

Do I need access to the internet?

Most courses provide course material and interact with students online via a web-based learning environment using a range of online teaching mediums such as Blackboard. Internet access is required for those courses, preferably Broadband or similar. Email is required to receive important University communications.

Will any part of the course require on campus attendance?

Some papers require attendance at on campus residential schools. These may run for a period of 2 - 5 days. Contact the programme administrator for details. Papers which can be studied by students residing overseas AND which do not require attendance at any course component in New Zealand are marked in the prospectus with an icon.

How much study time should I allow?

An 18 point paper taught over one semester will require approximately 15 hours per week study time, including reading, research, audio conferences and assignments. For a 30 point single semester paper, allow 25 hours a week. For Full Year papers, halve the number of hours per week.

More information about workload

What is the teaching period per paper?

The University year is split into two semesters each of 13 weeks, followed by an exam period. The start date for distance papers may vary, however Semester One and Full Year courses generally commence around the start of March and Semester Two starts in July. Summer School is a full time intensive programme with teaching covering a six week period from early January to mid-February.

How is my work assessed?

Assessment will vary from programme to programme and from paper to paper. In many papers, however, there are generally two assignments and an exam. You can request an exam venue close to your home. Exams take place in June for Semester One papers. Full year and Second Semester exams are around October/November. Other assessable activities could include:

  • online quizzes
  • compulsory attendance at contact courses
  • participation in online discussion forums
  • audio conference attendance and participation

Information on assessments for your course can be found in your Course Outline/Administration Guide.

When are exams held and where?

Exam periods: The University of Otago has three main examination periods:

  • The Summer School examinations run from around mid-February
  • Semester 1 examinations are in June
  • Semester 2 and Full Year examinations run from mid-October to mid-November

The dates for these periods are set two years in advance.

Location of Exams: Where practicable, students will sit their examinations at a local centre based on their semester address in eVision. Some students, however, might be required to travel distances of up to an hour's drive.

Check the Examinations website for more information on these and other matters.

Help with selecting my programme of study

Find out what programmes and papers are available via distance study:

If you require general information about studying at Otago, you can phone, email or live chat with AskOtago.

Contact AskOtago

When do I need to apply?

Applications should be completed by the following dates:

  • 10 December – all new students and recommencing students
  • 15 January – all other returning students taking first semester or full-year papers or courses
  • 15 June – students taking only second semester papers or courses.

Later applications may be accepted if facilities for tuition remain available, but you may be liable for an additional fee.
All necessary documentation concerning entrance qualifications, including name, date of birth, citizenship and/or residency must be provided on applying.

I live outside New Zealand. What additional information do I need?

International students (excluding New Zealand citizens living abroad) enrolling with the University for the first time should make enquiries via the International Office, where you will also find information about admission requirements and the application process.

After enrolment, how soon can I start?

Course material is generally made available 1-2 weeks before the semester starts. Access to Blackboard occurs on the first day of the semester. You may be able to obtain a reading list earlier by contacting your programme administrator.

What is Blackboard and how do I access it?

Blackboard is a web-based learning environment used by the University of Otago. Lecturers use Blackboard in many ways, but major purposes are to provide course material and to support interaction between students and lecturers. Not all papers at Otago use Blackboard; some use Oceanbrowser or Moodle.

Find out more about Blackboard, including instructions on how to access your courses.

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