Fully Online Courses - Frequently Asked Questions

How does online learning work?

Online learning courses consist of the following components:

  1. Course materials: each module on your course will consist of a set of materials which are specifically designed for online learning. They will facilitate independent learning, will be self-instructional in nature and are designed for students working alone at home. A certain amount of material will need to be covered in each week of the module. A course study guide is provided for your course to guide you on the pacing of your learning for the duration of the course. 
  2. Online learning environment: Module materials will also be supplemented with additional online learning activities that students undertake using the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). In the case of NUI Galway, Blackboard is the VLE of choice. This VLE is also the mode through which students interact with their module tutor and fellow students. Discussion forums are provided as part of each module through which all communication happens. Students are encouraged to actively engage with the online discussion forums on their module as communication is at the heart of online learning.
  3. Face-to-Face Sessions: for certain modules you will also attend seminars on campus. The number of sessions that students must attend vary from module to module so check with the course coordinator regarding the number of on-campus sessions that you may have to attend. These sessions are different to the normal lectures provided as part of the traditional classroom-based courses. These face-to-face sessions are more workshop in nature where students are expected to have studied module materials in advance and should be prepared to discuss their ideas and understanding of the module material in an interactive manner. Students may be required to give a presentation or work on case studies as part of these seminars. 

What's the difference between online learning, blended learning and modular learning?

In an online learning course you receive all your course materials and teaching online. There is no requirement to attend class at any stage during the course. In a blended learning course, your learning takes place both online and in the classroom and there is a requirement to attend a number of face-to-face seminar sessions. For certain courses these face-to-face sessions require mandatory attendance. However, in all courses attendance is highly recommended as the seminars provide a wonderful opportunity to meet with the module tutor and also with fellow students.  

A modular learning course allows students to participate and select modules at their own pace. These modules may be delivered in a classroom setting, fully online or also in blended learning mode. On accumulatio of a particular number of modules a student may attain a Certificate, Diploma or Degree award depending on the particular subject area chosen.

Is online learning for you?

On-line learning is different to learning in a traditional classroom setting. It requires you to think differently about how you communicate with the university, interact with other students, complete assignments and tests, and most importantly, study. To be successful as an on-line student you should be able to answer "yes" to the following questions:

(a) Do you possess strong time management skills?
(b) Do you possess strong organisational skills?
(c) Are you self-motivated?
(d) Do you enjoy working independently?
(e) Are you comfortable working with technology?
(f) Do you enjoy a challenge? 

What computer skills and equipment do I need?

To effectively engage in an online course, you will need access to a computer and a broadband connection. While training sessions are provided during course orientation in use of the virtual learning platform, prospective students should have basic computer skills which will enable you to navigate you the online learning environment, locate course notes and materials, navigate webpages, participate in discussion forums and upload course assignments when required. If additional software is required, this will be specified in the course description.

How do I know which is the right course for me?

Choosing the right course is difficult, particularly in light of the range of online courses available to you. Ideally, you should consider what your interests and strengths are and take a look at the course content to see if these meet your personal and professional development needs. You should also contact the Course Administrator for some further details on the course, and make your decision on the balance of information available. Many of our courses have a certificate option after one year’s study or a diploma option after two, so you do have an exit option (with an academic award) if you wish to change your course of study or if you wish to finish your studies prematurely.

How much time should I allocate to study?

Whether you are wish to study for a Certificate, Diploma, Degree or Masters achieving a recognized University award requires time and effort. While the amount of study time may vary from student to student depending upon their understanding of a particular subject area, we recommend a minimum of 10 – 15 hours study time per week. You are advised to contact the Course Administrator for details regarding the recommended weekly study time for your course of choice.

Will I receive a recognized qualification by studying online?

There is no difference between an NUI Galway qualification obtained on campus or online.  The same quality education is provided in the classroom and online setting.

What Learning Supports are available to me?

Once you are a registered student you can avail of many online supports to assist you in your return to learning, including:

These support services are integrated into your course of study and will assist you in preparing for continuous assessment assignments and end of semester examinations.

What levels do the courses correspond to in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)?

The courses offered range from Level 7 to 9 in the NFQ. 

Certificate   Level 7
Diploma Level 7
Degree Level 8
Masters Level 9

What will it cost?

Course prices vary from course to course. You should check out the fees section on the course webpage for details on fees, scholarships and method of payment.

How long will it take?

The courses on offer vary in terms of level of award (whether Certificate, Diploma or other) and also in duration. Certificate courses usually last one year. A Diploma course usually lasts two years, a Degree course can take four years, while a Masters can take two to three years to complete.

How are the courses assessed?

There are a number of methods of assessment employed on our online courses. These include completing assignments and learning journals, making online contributions and undergoing examinations.