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Access to Higher Education Diploma in Science (19+ only)

Level 3 Vocational
Course Code:
North Devon Campus
1 year (34 weeks)

Want to go to university? Want a change of career? Or want a new challenge? No A Levels? No problem! It is never too late to study for a degree, even if you have no qualifications at all. Or you may already have some qualifications at GCSE, NVQ or BTEC but not enough to get into university. Many adults return to education to improve their career opportunities and achieve their personal goals.

"Petroc is local and easily accessible. I have also completed other qualifications at the college and found that it is a very good place to learn. On the Access Diploma in Science I thoroughly enjoyed the practical lessons - doing experiments in Chemistry and dissection of the heart in Biology"


Access to Higher Education Diplomas enable mature students to apply for a degree programme in just one year. So, if you have a career path in mind which requires a degree and you thought you could never do it – think again.

Our Access Diplomas also cater for students who have been away from studying for some time. The course will equip you with the skills, knowledge and confidence to achieve your goals, as well as providing support and encouragement throughout the year. To succeed, you’ll need to be motivated, enthusiastic, able to manage your time effectively and be ready to study. You’ll also need to be over 19. You will be part of a group of adult students who are excited about learning, are willing to work hard with other members of the group and participate. Many people worry that they’re too old to do an Access course or will feel out of place - in fact, there’s no upper-age limit and there will be many other mature students on this course, just like you. All you need is to be committed to study and focused on your career choice.

Choose THREE from the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology. In each of your chosen Level 3 subjects, you will take several modules over the year providing you with a total of 60 credits at Level 3. Depending on what subjects you choose, you can expect to study:
Biology: Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Physiology, Human Disease, Inheritance.
Chemistry: Bonding & Reactions, Energetics, Kinetics & Redox, Organic Chemistry.
Psychology: The Learning Perspective, Early Social Development, Theories of Crime, Atypical Psychology.
Sociology: Stratification & Differentiation, Poverty & Health, Inequalities & Achievement in Education, Research Methods in Sociology.
Mathematics: Introduction of Mathematics, Introduction to Calculus, Statistics, Trigonometry.

All our Diplomas also include Study Skills, where you will gain valuable skills for university study such as academic writing, Harvard referencing, and how to effectively
locate and use a range of sources.

Tutorial sessions.
In tutorials we provide guidance and support for your UCAS application for university, as well as supporting you throughout your year of study.
Most universities require GCSE grades at C or above in English and Maths as part of the entry requirements for degree courses. GCSE English and Maths are separate qualifications from the Access Diploma so, if required, we offer additional lessons for these subjects. If you don’t already have a C grade or above in Maths or English at GCSE, these are currently free for students over 19. Please contact our Guidance Centre for further details. Please note that due to the amount of work involved, we strongly recommend that you only take one GCSE at the same time as the Access Diploma.
The Access Diploma is predominantly based upon continuous assessment (coursework). There will be a variety of teaching methods used throughout the course, including individual practical work, small group exercises, online research, group presentations, whole-class teaching and peer assessment. You will be supported and encouraged to develop and practice the skills that will enable you to become an independent learner and fully prepare you for Higher Education. Students compile a portfolio of assessed work throughout the year, which is externally moderated at the end of the course.

In some subjects, such as Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology and Psychology, there will be in-class timed tests, practical experiments and presentations. Examination practice is a mandatory requirement of all Access courses. Our Diploma includes two Study Skills exams during the course to meet this requirement. Students taking GCSE English or GCSE Maths will also have external examinations in May/June.
For learners aged 19 and above. You will have Level 2 literacy skills and be working towards Level 2 numeracy. If you already have GCSE Maths and English (or equivalent), you must bring copies of your certificates with you to your interview. Basic IT skills would be helpful, although this is not essential.

To take Access Chemistry you will need to have GCSE grade C/B in Chemistry, or GCSE grade C/B in Science together with grade C/B in Additional Science. Similarly to take Access Mathematics you will need to have GCSE grade C in this subject. Alternatively, if you don't have these GCSE grades, you can take an entry test for Chemistry and/or Mathematics at interview. Please prepare for this by revising Chemistry and/or Mathematics on GCSE websites, focusing on the topics listed in the course content section above.

There is no required set reading before the course starts, although you may find it useful to look at AS Level science text books and websites. It will also be useful to research courses and universities prior to starting the course to help with your university application, which takes place in the first term.
This course is a Level 3 programme which enables you to apply to a variety of science based degree courses, or Foundation Degrees or full Honours Degrees at Petroc, awarded by Plymouth University. This Diploma leads to a wealth of science based careers and degree courses in, for example, Human Biosciences, Medicine, Pharmacy, Chemical Engineering, Forensics, Conservation Biology & Ecology, Zoology, Veterinary Science, Medicine, Nursing, Midwifery, Paramedic Science, Podiatry, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Dietetics, Nutrition, Psychology, Computer Science.
There is an excellent Moodle (VLE) for the Diploma courses where you will have access to resources and additional reading, as well as extensive Learning Resources support. Individual computers can be booked for use in study periods. There are dedicated and well equipped specialist laboratories. Our classrooms have undergone modernisation in recent years and are well-equipped with up-to-date technologies. The tutors are well qualified, experienced, enthusiastic and understand the needs of Access learners and provide appropriate support and guidance. There is also support on applying to university from specialists in our Guidance Centre. Separate facilities are available especially for mature students (19+), for example a designated common room and cafe.
Q. How do I apply?
A. There is an online application system, visit Everyone who applies will be invited to interview

Q. Do universities recognise the Access to HE Diploma?
A. The Access to HE Diploma is a national qualification and is recognised and accepted by UK universities. Many universities have policies to encourage applications from Access to HE students, who are valued for their maturity and willingness to contribute to discussions.

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Alison Clark: Case Study

Alison Clark: Case Study

Learn more about Alison's experience of studying this course.

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