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New Online Distance Learning Database Focuses on International Development

An online database of more than 140 distance learning courses was launched today by Distance Learning for Development (DL4D), a project of the London International Development Centre (LIDC).

The website www.dl4d.ac.uk provides information about the University of London’s high-quality international development-related postgraduate courses, including Climate Change and Development, Globalisation and Health, Education and Understanding Poverty. The courses are primarily designed for international development practitioners, involve up to 240 hours of study and can be used towards acquiring higher-level qualifications. They are delivered using a range of media, including the latest online learning tools, CD-Rom and print-based materials.

The DL4D project is led by LIDC and explores the potential that distance learning has in meeting demands for postgraduate training across the developing world. LIDC brings together social and natural scientists from across the University of London’s six Bloomsbury Colleges (Birkbeck, Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College, School of Oriental and African Studies, and The School of Pharmacy).

Distance learning and international development: a winning combination
Chris Joynes, DL4D’s project officer, said: “Distance learning enables busy people to study whenever they want and from wherever they are in the world. It is a flexible and low-cost alternative to conventional postgraduate study, where students often have to put their careers on hold and relocate in order to study. These benefits make distance learning particularly attractive for international development practitioners living and working in developing countries. It is also an ideal way to improve one’s skills and understanding of today’s major development issues, including climate change, HIV/AIDS and food security.”

Diverse and flexible courses
DL4D’s courses cover the range of skills and areas of knowledge required by development professionals in the 21st century, including:

  • Essential skills for implementing and managing projects in developing countries
  • Introductions to macro-level economic and policy-making practice
  • Advanced courses in health, sanitation, agriculture and environmental studies

The courses are grouped into seven categories:


  • Health and health promotion


  • Food production and security
  • Environment and biodiversity
  • Rural development
  • Water and sanitation
  • Education
  • Sustainable development

Health and health promotion covers the management, administration and financing of health services, as well as public health, clinical trials, epidemiology and infectious diseases.

Food production and security covers the economics of agriculture and livestock, agricultural trade policy, and the development of small agribusiness. They are relevant to both policy-makers and agricultural practitioners.

Environment and biodiversity addresses many environmental issues, including climate change, ecology and environmental impact assessment, and the management of natural resources.

Rural development covers economics and poverty in rural communities, the impact of factors such as food security on rural livelihoods, and the planning and management of rural development projects.

Water and sanitation looks at the management of water as a natural resource, as a factor in
environmental health, and as a key element in rural development and agriculture.

Education is a key area for development practitioners. DL4D has chosen to place a particular emphasis on development education, leadership, and management in an educational context.

Sustainable development analyses the economic models and institutions associated with the international development industry, and helps identify how development projects can be designed in order to ensure sustainability.

Case Study: A Distance Learning Student from Afghanistan

Notes to editors