Postgraduate degree through open distance learning

Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) offers the flexibility to get a Masters Degree without having to quit your job or put your career on hold

DO you want to obtain a postgraduate degree without having to put your career on hold? Are you in middle management and have set your sights on a promotion but lack the requisite postgraduate qualification? Are you a petroleum engineer in Sudan but would like to deepen your knowledge at a university recognised by the oil and gas industry?

In any of these instances, open distance learning could just be the ticket to your knowledge enhancement, career improvement and all-round personal accomplishment.

Open distance learning, or ODL, combines aspects of open learning where teaching and learning activities are enhanced beyond conventional classroom boundaries and distance learning, which refers to geographical distance between learners and teachers. It appeals to working professionals because this route takes them to a postgraduate qualification without having to quit their jobs.

UTP, which prides itself in its outcome-based education approach, has since May this year, begun offering postgraduate programmes via ODL mode – allowing students the flexibility to unlock knowledge from the comfort of their homes.

Selected Masters Programme by Coursework have now gone virtual, including MBA in Energy Management, MSc in Asset Management and Maintenance, MSc in Electronic System Engineering, MSc in Offshore Engineering, MSc in Petroleum Geoscience and MSc in Process Integration. Meanwhile, other courses or programmes to be offered via ODL such as MSc in Petroleum Engineering and MSc in Process Safety are currently awaiting approval from the Ministry of Higher Education.

Hilmi says ODL for postgraduate courses is the next step forward.Hilmi says ODL for postgraduate courses is the next step forward.

Although the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has already pushed learning online, UTP deputy vice chancellor Academic Prof Dr Hilmi Mukhtar says ODL for postgraduate courses is the next step forward.

“With the ODL programme, students are not required to pursue their postgraduate studies on-campus. There is no face-to-face in-classroom learning. This means students will not have to quit their jobs or sacrifice their chances at a promotion if they choose to further their studies. Learning can be done anytime, anywhere and on any device. The programme’s reach is also expanded beyond borders because you don’t need to be physically in Malaysia to take up the programme, ” he says.

The programmes offered via ODL are delivered via UTP’s e-learning platform, ULearnX. ODL programmes are offered with the flexibility of classes on campus, online or a blend of both – the choice is in the hands of the student. Working professionals can opt for the best mode of learning to accommodate their busy schedules and demands of career and family. Students have a choice of completing their postgraduate degrees at their own pace – taking a year to three years.

International students also stand to benefit because they do not need to be based in Malaysia – a great advantage given how the pandemic has brought international travel to a standstill.

Besides the teaching material available on ULearnX, the learning platform also allows students to manage their course activity. Course lecturers can also track the students’ progress and communicate with them regularly.

Through the ODL mode, special weekend classes can also be arranged to accommodate the student’s busy schedule. Using an open-source application on the learning platform, lecturers can engage and collaborate with students online through chat, audio and video – further enriching the teaching and learning experience.

These sessions are also recorded and uploaded onto the learning platform and in that way students who are unable to attend are not left out. “Students can download the sessions, view them and then pose questions to the lecturers, so it’s interactive, ” says Hilmi.

What’s more, students can also stay in touch with UTP lecturers and industry experts via frequent meetings and consulting sessions at UTP’s Centre for Advanced and Professional Education (CAPE) in KL as the UTP Regional Centre.

The postgraduate courses delivered via ODL mode also include industry-based projects and assignments.

“These projects can be used to solve real world problems, For example, if you are an engineer carrying out maintenance in an oil and gas company, you can use the findings from the project to enhance current processes. That way you don’t just develop your own expertise, but it also benefits the organisation, ” says Hilmi.

The modular-based postgraduate programmes covering core and technical aspects targets a broad spectrum of the oil and gas, and energy sector – enhancing their skillsets so they can take up leadership within the industry.

Like all of UTP’s academic programmes, the course content is industry driven. The curriculum for the various programmes is crafted following input from UTP’s Industry Advisory Panel and subject matter experts from other institutions and professional bodies. International external examiners also ensure that UTP’s academic programmes are benchmarked against global standards. These ensure that UTP’s academic programmes are robust and relevant to industry needs and with the ODL mode, postgraduate students can access these world-class programmes without leaving their jobs or homes.

For more information on UTP’s postgraduate programmes, visit

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