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Access to Higher Education: Diploma in Health Professions

Want to go to university? Want a change of career? Or want a new challenge?
No A Levels? No problem! It’s 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. Access to Higher Education Diplomas enable mature students to apply for a degree programme in only 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. This Diploma in Nursing, Midwifery and Medical Science 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 aged 19 or over, motivated, enthusiastic, able to manage your time effectively and be ready to study. You will be part of a group of adult students who are excited about learning and 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.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma in Health Professions includes Biology* (mandatory), and a choice of TWO of the following subjects:
– Chemistry*
– Psychology
– Health Studies

In each of your chosen Level 3 subjects, you will take five modules over the year and can expect to study:
– Biology – Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Physiology, Human Disease, Inheritance.
– Chemistry – Bonding and Reactions, Energetics, Kinetics and Redox, Organic Chemistry .
– Psychology – Criminology (theories of crime), Early Social Development, Stress and Wellbeing, Atypical Psychology
– Health Studies – Perspectives of Health, A Brief History of Health and Medicine, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Interpersonal Skills.

All our Diplomas also include:
– Study Skills where you will gain valuable skills for university study such as academic writing, Harvard referencing, and effectively locating and using a range of sources.
– Tutorial sessions. In Tutorials we will provide guidance and support for your UCAS application for university, as well as supporting you throughout your year of study.

This course is a Level 3 programme which enables you to progress on to a Foundation Degree or full Honours Degree at Petroc, awarded by the University of University, or to a BA or BSc programme at any UK university.

* You will need at least grade C/4 in GCSE Science to study Biology and Chemistry – see entry requirements

Apply for this course

Select from the start date/s below…

Sep 2023 : North Devon : Part-time
Course Code : PTB502L (2023)
Level : Level 3
Duration : 2 Years

Cost : * Total Fee £3384

North Devon campus Apply
Sep 2023 : Tiverton : Full-time
Course Code : FTT128L (2023)
Level : Level 3
Duration : 36 Weeks

Cost : * Total Fee £3384

Tiverton campus Apply
Sep 2023 : North Devon : Full-time
Course Code : FTB186L (2023)
Level : Level 3
Duration : 36 Weeks

Cost : * Total Fee £3384

North Devon campus Apply

Course details


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, on-line 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, 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 to meet this requirement.

Students taking GCSE English or Maths will also have external examinations in May/June

Entry Requirements

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 Nursing, Midwifery or Medical 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 Advice & 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

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: www.cellsalive.com, www.s-cool.co.uk, www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize.

If you are taking Chemistry, you should also visit http://www.chemguideforcie.co.uk/ and BBC Bitesize GCSE http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/subjects/zs6hvcw 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 Diploma leads to a wide range of degree courses in, for example, Human Biosciences, Podiatry, Mental Health Nursing, Child Nursing, Adult Nursing, Paramedic Science, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Radiography, Dental Hygiene & Nursing, Sports Coaching.

Facilities and resources

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.

– Our classrooms have undergone modernisation in recent years and are well-equipped with up-to-date technologies.

– There are dedicated and well equipped specialist laboratories.

– 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.

We have a designated common room for mature students only (19+).


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 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 Guidance Centre for advice and information.

Study Programme

Every full-time student at Petroc will have their own Study Programme which will include:

– Your academic or vocational qualification.

– Maths and English Language development – if you have not achieved GCSE grade 4 in either of these subjects.

– Work Experience – hours will vary depending on your qualification and course level.

– Tutor Support – to support your personal, academic and professional development.

– Sustainability – helping you to identify how you can improve the sustainability of your future employment sectors.

– Personal Development Awards – developing six key areas of personal and employability behaviours to prepare you for the working world.

Apply for this course

Starting Date : 11/09/2023
Course Code : PTB502L (2023) North Devon campus, Tiverton campus Apply
Starting Date : 11/09/2023
Course Code : FTT128L (2023) North Devon campus, Tiverton campus Apply
Starting Date : 13/09/2023
Course Code : FTB186L (2023) North Devon campus, Tiverton campus Apply

Why Petroc should be your first choice

Petroc offers high quality education and training across North and Mid Devon. We provide outstanding learning, excellent facilities, strong connections to employers and a supportive environment to help you fulfil your education goals and set you on your path to the career of your dreams.

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We offer a supportive and inclusive environment where you can flourish and feel a valued member of the college and wider community. 


Our teaching spaces and facilities are some of the best in the region, providing stimulating and true-to-life learning environments. 


We’ll provide you with the experiences you need to be ready for employment or the next step on your educational journey.

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