Library and Information Services Management MA (distance learning)

Start date: September
Duration: 2 to 3 years (distance learning)
Programme codes: MA: INFT90 (part-time 2 years), INFT91 (part-time 3 years)
Postgraduate Diploma: INFT92 (part-time)
Postgraduate Certificate: INFT93 (part-time)
Accreditation: MA & Diploma accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).



Why should I take this course?

Today's library and information professionals need to understand how to manage physical and digital information resources, and how these shape the provision of customer-focused information services. They must understand the exciting changes that are taking place in the fast-developing information world. With change happening rapidly, professional reflection and performance evaluation are also important skills for today's leaders. This course will equip you to carry out a wide variety of roles in the contemporary information environment.

What will I gain?

The course aims to produce rounded practitioners who can contribute value to an organisation immediately, through core professional skills and a grasp of strategic and practical issues. It provides an in-depth understanding of managerial and ethical issues involved in leading and supporting physical and digital library services and developmental initiatives.

It will introduce you to the best current thinking and practice, and equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to enter this fast-developing sector. You will learn core competencies in IT, management and information handling, together with a wide range of specialisms.

The skills of librarians and information specialists are essential to identify, control, organise and make accessible the ever-increasing amounts of information available in paper, digital and multimedia formats. This course prepares you for a professional role in areas ranging from public service to business.

What will I learn?

The course focuses on the creation, management and use of information, and the role that libraries and information services play in different parts of society. You will develop core skills to support your career development such as management of library and information services, and effective information retrieval.

Our course has been designed to give students a broad understanding of information management as well as librarianship. Students will benefit from studying core modules in Information and Knowledge Management and Knowledge Organisation to develop and broaden their understanding in these areas. There are also optional modules in public and youth library services, academic and workplace libraries, information governance and database design and data management

Designed with working professionals in mind, the course also includes a module on personal and professional development. This has been designed to develop skills in reflective practice and to encourage students to share and reflect upon their professional experiences. Modules are delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars so you can interact with teaching staff and other students.

In your second year you will study a research methods and dissertation preparation module to help you prepare for your dissertation on a subject of your choice.

How will I be taught and assessed?

The Information School has an international reputation for teaching and research in library management, and the latest ideas are fed directly into the Library and Information Services Management MA programme.

You will be taught via the University’s Virtual Learning Environment and specialised distance-learning software, which delivers lectures, seminars and tutorials online in real-time. If you cannot attend live sessions you will be able to catch up on recordings and take part asynchronously in discussions using online fora. Teaching for each module lasts 12 weeks with assessment deadlines typically in the middle and at the end of semesters. We recommend that you spend 10–12 hours a week, per module, for the 12 timetabled weeks and for the weeks leading up to and following teaching. This will include reading, viewing recorded lectures, undertaking coursework and assignment preparation, and participating in online lectures, activities and seminars.

Throughout the course you will have the support of a personal tutor and module coordinators, and peer support through student-led discussions and interaction is also encouraged.

There is also a dissertation of 10–15,000 words, which provides the opportunity, under one-to-one supervision, to focus in depth on a topic of your choice. You may choose to carry out your dissertation with an external organisation, for instance if you are in employment, your project could be directly related to your own work situation. In the past, students who have carried out such dissertations have welcomed the opportunity to tackle 'real-life' problems.

In addition, an important element of the course is the acquisition and development of the transferable skills needed in today’s workplace. These include skills in oral and written communication, developed through interaction and report writing as part of assessed work. We seek to develop your management, leadership, organisational and teamworking capabilities on the course too.

Other courses

  • Postgraduate Certificate require a total of 60 Credits
  • Postgraduate Diploma requires a total of 120 Credits

The Library and Information Services Management MA is a 2 or 3 year programme, with each year running from September to September, and delivered by distance learning. It is normally completed over a period of 2 or 3 years, most commonly 2.

Modules have a value of credits: 180 credits are required for graduation. 90 of these are compulsory (Core) modules, 30 are elective and 60 credits are allocated to the dissertation.

Core Modules (Modules that you have to take): Credits
INF6501 Personal and Professional Development Portfolio (Distance Learning) 15
INF6503 Information Organisation (Distance Learning) 15
INF6511 Information and Knowledge Management (Distance Learning) 15
INF6513 Leadership, Strategy and Change (Distance Learning) 15
INF6553 Information Literacy (Distance Learning) 15
INF6580 Libraries, Information and Society (Distance Learning) 15
You must also take 30 credits from the following:
INF6502 Academic and Workplace Library, Information and Knowledge Services (Distance Learning) 15
INF6505 Database Design and Data Management (Distance Learning) 15
INF6525 Information Governance and Ethics (Distance Learning) 15
INF6531 Public and Youth Library Services (Distance Learning) 15
You will also take:
INF6545 Research Methods and Dissertation Preparation (Distance Learning) 15
INF6555 Dissertation (Distance Learning) 45

Other courses

  • Postgraduate Certificate require a total of 60 Credits
  • Postgraduate Diploma requires a total of 120 Credits
Entry Requirements

The Library and Information Services Management MA course is aimed at individuals with the ambition to work in the library and information management profession. Our course is also suitable for people who are currently working in the profession and want to progress in their careers. We focus upon experiential learning in the course: we encourage students to reflect on their work experience during their studies and to apply what they learn in their working life.

If this sounds like you and you have practical experience of working in a library or information-related role, and now wish to enhance your skills to further your career, this distance learning course will be a valuable addition to your CV. And because it's taught by distance learning, you can join our online learning community and study from anywhere in the world and at times that suit you.

Entry requirements are deliberately kept flexible in recognition of the wide variety of skills, backgrounds and experiences of applicants wishing to work in the library and information management profession. We look for candidates who can demonstrate potential within two particular areas:

Academic background

You are normally expected to have at least a good second-class honours degree, or its equivalent, in any subject discipline. However if you do not have a degree, but have substantial work experience in the library and information management profession, you may be admitted onto the Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma in the first instance, with the possibility of upgrading to the MA, subject to making satisfactory progress.


You would normally be expected to have some information-related practical work experience. Your experience can be full or part time, paid or voluntary, based in a library or another organisation carrying out an information role. It should be substantial enough to allow you to bring it to bear on the course. In fact, most of our students are working whilst studying on the course; which is useful but not essential. You may be accepted onto the course without a degree if the quality of your work experience is sufficiently high.

If you are looking to gain work experience following your first degree and prior to applying for the Library and Information Services Management MA programme, you may wish to apply for a dedicated graduate training vacancy. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) provides information about graduate traineeships and volunteering on their website.

English Language Entry Requirements

If your first language is not English you need to provide documentary evidence of English Language competence. You must meet the following minimum requirements:

Overall score 6.5
Listening 6.0
Reading 6.0
Speaking 6.0
Writing 6.0

Details of other qualifications recognised by the University of Sheffield can be found on the English language requirements webpage. You can also compare grades for English language assessments on the English Language Teaching Centre website.

If your application is successful you may need to attend an English Language class in the University before or during the course.

Open Days

If your application is successful we will invite you to attend an Open Day at the School. We hold these several times a year, and will inform you of possible dates when we contact you. Attendance at an open day is optional but will give you the opportunity to see our facilities and to meet the academic staff and current students.

There is currently no closing date for applications for the coming academic year, but we encourage you to apply as early as possible.


Your career prospects

A postgraduate qualification in library and information management is essential for many roles in the library and information profession. Our Library and Information Services Management MA programme has been designed for people who want to enter the profession or who are preparing to take the next step up in their careers.

What people are saying about careers in library and information services management

Modern library and information services require professionals who can manage large volumes of information in both digital and traditional forms. Graduates from the MA Library and Information Services Management programme will be equipped with the skills that are needed for the developing role of the library and information professional in organisations today.

Who is employing graduates?

The Library and Information Services Management MA programme was a new course in 2015. To give you a flavour of what our graduates from other programmes do after their studies, these are some of the just some of the organisations and sectors in which they have gone on to work:

  • Higher and further education libraries, including Cambridge University, King’s College London, Oxford University, Stanford University, Rotherham College of Arts and Technology
  • Public library authorities, including Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, London (Westminster)
  • Other public sector organisations, including the BBC, government departments such as DCMS, Environment Agency
  • Private sector organisations, including Accenture, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Pearson Education
  • Charities, including British Red Cross, Stroke Association

What jobs could I do?

Our graduates have followed a range of career paths and after graduating they take up a range of roles including:

  • Librarian
  • Liaison Librarian
  • Business Intelligence Consultant
  • Knowledge Management Officer
  • Subject Support Librarian
  • Learning Resources Centre Manager
  • Information Officer
  • Information Research Specialist
  • Consultant
  • Researcher
  • Cataloguer
  • Library Technician
  • Knowledge Manager
  • Research Assistant
Course Team

The course tutors in the department are all research active, and many have a professional background, so have first-hand experience. We also invite guest lecturers, who are leading thinkers and practitioners in the field, so you will have a chance to talk with professionals about real life problems and solutions, as well as making contacts to build your professional network.

Course Coordinator

"My key areas for research and teaching are information literacy (IL), information behaviour (IB) and educational informatics. My career started with post in the Health and Safety Executive, followed by 13 years at the UK’s national library, the British Library (BL). Starting with the BL’s pioneering online service, BLAISE, I proceeded to become manager of BLAISE Online Services, and my final job there was Head of the BL’s Business Information Service.

The focus on business information continued when I joined the Information Science department at Strathclyde University, Scotland, as a lecturer. Achievements included leading a funded project investigating small business’ use of information, and creating Business Information Sources on the Internet in 1994, a key early resource which was listed in guides such as the Economist guide to the internet. In the late 1990s my focus shifted to information literacy, an interest which developed further after joining the Information School at Sheffield in 2000. As well as teaching, researching and publishing in this field, I maintain the popular Information Literacy Weblog and organise events as part of the Centre for Information Literacy Research."

Sheila Webber 2014

Sheila Webber

Deputy Course Coordinator

"Much of my teaching and research relates to public, youth and school libraries and librarianship. Within these three areas I have a particular focus on public libraries, social justice and diversity, and on reading research and the promotion of literature and reading. I have been responsible for developing new modules and new programme materials in each of these areas, for both face to face and distance learning Masters programmes.

It is my view that with a vocational discipline such as Library and Information Science we need to combine the more standard teaching methods with a more ‘outward-facing’ approach, and I have introduced a number of engaged learning initiatives in my teaching. My recent writing on the subject is included in two Engaged Learning Sheffield publications, and in posts on the University of Sheffield Engaged Curriculum blog.

In 2016, I was awarded a Teaching Excellence in Social Sciences Award, for Outstanding Practice in Learning and Teaching."

Briony Birdi 2014

Dr Briony Birdi

Will I be able to do the course and still work full-time?

Most of the students on the Library and Information Services Management programme work whilst studying, many of them full-time. Of course, this is hard work and usually requires you to set aside regular times to do coursework. However, it is possible if you are committed and organised.

Will I be required to attend any face-to-face induction or teaching?

There are no compulsory sessions where you have to attend in person. We do have some induction sessions where we ask you to attend in real time virtually, however. We will let you know about the times and dates of these well in advance so you can organise your schedule. However, for the most part, there is no requirement to attend either in person or virtually at particular times. We encourage you, if you can, to come and contribute to live online lectures but you can always catch up on recordings if you are unavailable. There are also lots of opportunities to contribute to interaction and discussion asynchronously so you are not in any way disadvantaged if you cannot attend live sessions. Each year, some of our distance learning students are keen to attend face-to-face events in the School and we very much encourage this on a voluntary basis.

How much work experience do I need?

We ask applicants to have some kind of practical work experience. This demonstrates a commitment to the profession and also means that they come to the course with some understanding of roles in the information world. Traditionally, applicants did a 12-month graduate trainee role, and that is still the case for many of our students; but there are an increasingly wide range of other entry paths. Your experience might be full or part-time, paid or voluntary, in a library or other organisation in an information-related role. It does not necessarily need to be as long as 12 months but should be substantial enough in order for you to be able to bring it to bear on the course. Most students are working in library and information roles whilst carrying out the course. This is very useful but not essential.

Will the course restrict me to work in libraries only?

The Library and Information Services Management course has been designed to give you a broad perspective on information-related roles and skills. It is designed to equip you to carry out both library-based roles and also wider information-related roles.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers.In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.