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Access to Higher Education: Diploma in Humanities, Education & Social Work

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. Access to Higher Education Diplomas enable mature students to apply for a degree programme in only 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 provide 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 participate and work hard with other members of the group.

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 studying and focused on your career choice.

During the course, you will study the following subjects:

English Literature:
– Literature in Context
– The Short Story
– Crime and Deviance

– Introduction to Psychology
– Stress and Wellbeing
– Early Social Development
– Criminology (theories of crime)

– Key Perspectives in Sociology
– Poverty and Health
– Crime and Deviance
– Sociological Research

All our Diplomas also include:
– Study Skills: Presentation and reflection, researching HE opportunities, examination technique and seminar skills, core HE study skills research.
– Tutorial sessions: Guidance and support for your UCAS application for university, as well as support throughout your year of study.

Apply for this course

Select from the start date/s below…

Sep 2024 : North Devon : Full-time
Course Code : FTB247L (2024)
Level : Level 3
Duration : 35 Weeks

Cost : * Total Fee £3600

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 debates, 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, there will be in-class timed tests. Examination practice is a mandatory requirement of all Access courses to fully prepare students.

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

Entry Requirements

This course is for learners aged 19 and above.

Most universities require at least 5 GCSE grades at C/4 or above, including 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/4 grade in Maths or English at GCSE, these are currently free for students over 19. 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 and English (or equivalent), you must bring copies of your certificates with you to your interview.

Basic IT skills would be helpful.

If you do not currently hold the above entry requirements, you could apply for the Pre Access Level 2 Award in Skills for Employment, Training & Personal Development to help gain entry onto Access to HE study.

There is no required set reading before the course starts, although you may find it useful to read about current affairs in the media or look at A Level websites such as S-cool (www.s-cool.co.uk) to find out more about the subjects you are thinking of studying.

It would 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. It is also recommended that you thoroughly research your preferred career pathway.

Please note: You need to have a genuine desire and aptitude to enter Education or Social Work. Most universities will expect you to have gained experience working in a relevant social care setting and will also require a DBS check as part of their entry requirements.


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 Plymouth University) or to a BA or BSc programme at any UK university. This diploma leads to a variety of degree courses in, for example, teaching, archaeology, anthropology, English, journalism, history, sociology, social work, politics and criminology.

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 with applying to university from specialists in our Advice & 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 Higher Education students, who are valued for their maturity and willingness to contribute to discussions.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: You may be entitled to full fee remission if you are aged 19 – 23 and studying your first full Level 3 qualification. To find out more about the Advanced Learner Loan, please contact our Advice and Guidance Centre.

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. Or you can contact our Advice and Guidance Centre for advice and information on fees.

Q: Can I get any help with childcare or other costs?

A: Some additional help may be available, dependent upon individual circumstances – please contact our Advice & 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 : 16/09/2024
Course Code : FTB247L (2024) North Devon 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.

A group of Petroc students having a conversation


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.