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Access to Higher Education- Diploma in Science

Level 3
Course Code:
North Devon Campus
One year

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.

Go for it! It's never too late to get back into education and this is the perfect course to get into University. Petroc is a great college that offers amazing support. - Ray, now studying Zoology at Southampton University


Access to Higher Education Diplomas enable mature students to apply for a degree programme in just one year, full time. 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.

On the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Science you will choose THREE from the following subjects: Biology*, Chemistry*, Mathematics* and Psychology.
(* You will need at least grade C/4 in GCSE Science to study Biology and Chemistry, and at least grade B/6 in GCSE Maths to study Maths - see entry requirements below)

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: Stress & Wellbeing, Early Social Development, Theories of Crime, Atypical Psychology.
- Mathematics: Introduction of Mathematics, Introduction to Calculus, Statistics, Trigonometry.

All our Diplomas also include:
- Study Skills: 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.
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 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.

Most universities require 5 GCSE grades at C/4 or above or equivalent, including English and Maths (and Science if studying Science related degrees) 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/4 grade or above in Maths or English at GCSE, these are currently free for students over 19. We also offer GCSE Biology and Psychology as part of our evening class programme. 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.

If you already have GCSE Maths, English and Science (or equivalent), you must bring copies of your certificates with you to your interview.

Basic IT skills would be helpful.

For Biology - GCSE grade C/B (4/5) in Biology; or GCSE grade C/B (4/5) in Science
For Chemistry - GCSE grade C/B (4/5) in Chemistry; or GCSE grade C/B (4/5) in Science together with grade C/B (4/5) in Additional Science
For Maths - GCSE grade B/6

After you have been accepted for this course, you will be sent a reading list before the start of the Access course. In the meantime, you may find it very useful to look at GCSE and AS level Human Biology text books: suggested websites for Biology:,,

If you are taking Chemistry, you should also visit and BBC Bitesize GCSE to refresh your Chemistry knowledge.

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, Optometry, Pharmacy, Chemical Engineering, Forensics, Conservation Biology & Ecology, Zoology, Veterinary Science, 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.
Paper, pen and memory stick.
Please contact the Advice & Guidance Centre on 01271 852422 for more information.
Q: Do universities recognise the Access to Higher Education Diploma?
A: The Access to Higher Education 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.

Q: How much does it cost?
A: You are entitled to full fee remission if the following applies to you:
Aged 19 - 23 and studying your first full Level 3 qualification.
Aged 19+ - find out more about the Advanced Learner Loan - our Advice & Guidance Centre will be able to help you with this & any questions you may have.
Applicants who take the Advanced Learner Loan do not need to pay anything upfront. If you complete your Access Diploma and then go on to complete a course in Higher Education, the remaining balance of your Advanced Learner Loan, including any interest on it, will be written off. You can get full information from Student Finance England. Alternatively, you can contact our Advice & Guidance Centre for advice and information on fees.

Q: Can I get any help with childcare, or other costs?
A: Some additional help is available, dependent upon individual circumstances - please contact our Advice & Guidance Centre for advice and information.

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