Studying while you work: The advantages and disadvantages of part-time learning formats Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
Studying while you work: The advantages and disadvantages of part-time learning formats
There’s no doubt that managing your life while pursuing your studies can be incredibly challenging.

There’s no doubt that managing your life while pursuing your studies can be incredibly challenging. In today’s tough economic climate, many people want to pursue additional studies. They do this to ensure their career growth and future employment, as employers are likely to hire or retain them over others due to the extra skills they bring to the table.

However, this economic climate also makes it difficult for individuals to take time off to pursue their studies: any loss of income means they will struggle to provide for themselves or their families.

Thankfully, universities offer multiple learning formats to suit their students’ needs. In this blog we’ll unpack various part-time study options.

Modular learning

Modular learning is one of two part-time study formats. This part-time learning format allows students to attend classes in modules. These modules are blocks of time that the university expects students to put aside to attend classes. Modules typically last for one or two weeks at a time, depending on the course.

For example, a modular postgraduate diploma may consist of four modules consisting of one week each. Students of this course only attend class on campus during these one-week periods.


  • In the short term, modular learning offers more flexibility to manage the time you commit to your job, family and studies.
  • In the long term, this format lets you take a more staggered approach to complete the entire programme, which means you can choose how and when you want to complete the modules (within certain restrictions).
  • You do not have to live near to the university to take part in a modular course as you only need to be on campus during the block weeks.


  • Longer time needed to complete the programme
  • Fewer opportunities for face-to-face networking with your class or at programme-related events

Blended learning

The second part-time study format is blended learning, which shifts expectations even further from the modular approach. Where learners would previously be expected to attend classes in person, this format uses e-learning technology to give the learner even greater flexibility.

This technology means that the learner can take part in the class from anywhere in the world via an internet-linked device. Classes are live-streamed so learners can take part in real-time. This makes it possible for them to ask questions and interact with their classmates — without needing to put a foot inside the classroom.

However, some universities schedule an initial contact week as an introduction to their blended learning programmes. This contact week typically serves to orientate in terms of blended learning and the programme they are about to start. Students are expected to appear in person for this contact week, but they can attend the regular classes afterwards in person or online. Weekly classes are usually in the region of four hours.


  • Blended learning allows you to study while managing your other responsibilities, such as your job and family commitments.
  • The class content is delivered using synchronous and asynchronous methods. For example, a live stream for a class is a synchronous tool. Students only have access to the online class while the class is presented. However, where class content is recorded and uploaded online – i.e. where content is available asynchronously – students can access the content when it suits them.
  • You don’t have to live near the university to take part in a blended learning course. You can attend the online classes, and take part in these classes, from any location with internet access.
  • Blended learning caters for a variety of learning styles. For example, slower learners have greater access to material which they can review in their own time to help them better develop their understanding of a subject.


  • Longer time needed to complete the programme compared to full-time programmes
  • Fewer opportunities for face-to-face networking with fellow students, and fewer opportunities to attend programme-related events on campus
  • Less in-person contact time than other full-time and part-time learning formats

USB’s blended learning courses

To ensure that all students’ needs are catered for, USB offers a number of programmes in the blended learning format. These programmes are:

Grow your future opportunities with a part-time course from USB

If you are interested in pursuing your studies part-time and would like to learn more about these courses, you can do so here. You can also contact us today and we’ll be happy to assist you with any queries you may have.

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