Hong Kong to the UK

Q. I am looking to study a distance-learning Masters at a UK university from Hong Kong. I want to take a Masters in education with a technology component and am hoping to start early next year. At the moment I work as the head of the technology department at a school in Hong Kong.

A. There are many courses that might fit the bill. Programmes exist in the areas of ICT, design and technology and in the development of e-learning tools for online education and training. So you need to be very exact about what you want to study.

The biggest distance learning provider is the Open University ( www.open.ac.uk) and its Masters in education is the largest postgraduate programme of its kind in Europe. However, you are probably too late to apply for courses beginning in February, and new rules apply as from 2007 in terms of what modules you need to do.

The OU has four education programmes (including one in educational technology) and you should look carefully at the website. If you are a permanent resident in Hong Kong, you can only do courses that are available globally (OU students are normally based in the EU), which means your choice is restricted.

But many traditional universities have also embraced distance learning and the course finder facility at www.prospects.ac.uk shows what's on offer. Use online prospectuses to compare courses, and if in doubt contact the university direct. You need to consider course content, both compulsory and optional subjects, as well as length and modes of assessment. Distance learning can be paced to your own needs to some extent, but you often have to finish a programme or achieve a certain number of credits within a certain period.

Country club ambition

Q. My brother, who has a degree in business, works in a golf and country club where he has been an assistant manager since the mid-1990s. I know he wants to develop his professional skills. Are there any postgraduate qualifications he could take? What would they cost?

A. How about an MBA in golf and country club management at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh. The course is designed for people employed in golf/country clubs who want to develop their professional skills. It includes core modules such as marketing and elective modules such as entrepreneurship and legal issues.

The course has intakes in January and September, and is available by distance learning. Students pay by the module and it is flexible. The programme is done by post and e-mail, and you are not required to attend in person. Fees are £700 for each 15-credit module. There are eight modules, plus a dissertation that counts as four modules and would cost a further £1,400.

There are plenty of other options, however. If your brother wants to carry on working, most programmes can be done part-time and/or by distance learning. He might consider a diploma in management studies (available in many universities and adult education colleges, usually through evening classes) or a Masters degree with a broad financial/ business base. He could also consider professional qualifications such as those offered by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators ( www.icsa.org.uk) or he could take one of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's diplomas or certificates ( www.cim.co.uk).

If your brother wants to combine an interest in business with the world of sport, there are a few Masters courses that cover both disciplines, for example, MSc programmes in sports studies or sports and exercise. These usually include modules on sports finance and marketing, but also look at areas such as sports and culture.

Careers adviser: Gillian Sharp, Graduate Prospects

Send your queries to Caitlin Davies at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail caitlind1@aol.com