Access to Higher Education Diploma



1 year (2 days per week)



Department of Health
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24,000 Access to HE students are accepted at over 140 universities every year*


90% of graduates with Diploma were employed or in further study six months after graduating (2017/18)

Do you have ambitions to get into nursing, but don’t currently meet the entry criteria to start on a university course in this field? Designed for adult learners (aged 19+) who are looking to return to education or change career, our Access to Higher Education Diploma in Nursing offers a route into university study for those who do not yet have the necessary qualifications, opening the doors for you to pursue a rewarding future career in nursing.

This Access to Higher Education Diploma is an intensive one-year course which allows you to gain the equivalent of three A-levels in health studies, biological science and skills for learning. You will learn a wide range of key topics, from essential knowledge of anatomy (including respiration, circulation, muscular skeletal and nervous systems) to nutrition, disease prevention and the history of the NHS. Alongside this, you will develop skills to prepare you for higher education, such as study techniques, research and academic writing.

By completing the Access to Higher Education Diploma, you will gain a recognised Level 3 qualification that is accepted for entry onto UK university courses. Students who complete our course and meet the necessary tariff requirements will be offered a place on our adult or mental health nursing degree courses.

Why choose this college course?

  • RECOGNISED QUALIFICATION – This Access to Higher Education Diploma will give you a nationally-recognised qualification to help meet the entry requirements for university
  • BOOST YOUR SKILLS – Gain the necessary study skills and key knowledge for your chosen subject or career, as well as the independent learning skills needed for university study
  • GREAT LEARNING SUPPORT – Enjoy a positive and supportive learning experience that will develop your skills and confidence to progress onto higher education
  • MOVE UP TO UNIVERSITY – Continue your learning journey to the next level at University College Birmingham, such as on our business or finance and accounting degrees.
Student Finance England will ‘write off’ any outstanding Advanced Learner Loan balances you owe for an Access to HE course, once you complete a higher education course. This means you do not have to repay it. (The higher education course must be eligible for student finance.)

Course breakdown

Topics you will study

Health studies / biological science

  • R&R of a Registered Nurse
  • Anatomy
  • Human Disease and Prevention
  • Nutrition
  • Cell Metabolism
  • Respiration and Circulation
  • Muscular Skeletal
  • Nervous System
  • History of the NHS
  • Health Promotion
  • Communication within Healthcare
  • Safeguarding
  • Placement
  • Research Topic

Skills for learning

  • Study Techniques
  • Academic Writing Skills
  • Seminar
  • Progression to HE

Please note: Units/topics of study are subject to change

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Our Access to Higher Education Diploma course has been designed for students who have not had the opportunity to access higher education. 

Academic requirements

  • GCSE English (Language or Literature) or Maths at grade 4 (grade C) or equivalent
  • If you are unsure if your qualification is equivalent or if you wish to check if you meet the entry requirements for this course, please call 0121 214 2919 or email

Supporting documents required

Applicants will also be required to submit a reference from a previous or current employment role. Please where possible submit this with your application by emailing your reference to

Additional Information

There may be the opportunity to study GCSE maths or Functional Skills English alongside the course as part of your studies.

For applicants who need to retake their maths and English alongside studying the Access to HE Diploma, please note that we cannot guarantee these lectures will fall between 10am and 3pm.

Guaranteed progression

Students who achieve 112 UCAS points or more from this qualification will automatically be guaranteed a place on the Nursing (Adult) BSc or Nursing (Mental Health) BSc degree course at University College Birmingham. Some undergraduate courses require additional entry requirements, so applicants are advised to check entry requirements before applying.

Key information

Teaching and assessment

Assessment methods are varied to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and to prepare you for the types of assessment you will undertake in higher education. These could include essays, exams, newsletters, presentations, posters, reports, research projects and teamwork.

Our teaching and assessment is underpinned by our Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategy 2021-2024.


The fee for this course is £3,022. Please click here for more information.

Please note: Student Finance England will 'write off' any outstanding Advanced Learner Loan balances you owe for an Access to HE course once you complete a higher education course. This means you do not have to repay it. (The higher education course must be eligible for Student Finance).

Progression and career opportunities

This course is designed to enable your progression onto higher education. Depending on entry requirements, you could continue onto a degree at University College Birmingham, such as Nursing (Adult) BSc or Nursing (Mental Health) BSc.

With further study, possible future career options open to you include:

  • Adult nurse – Average salary: £33,834
  • Mental health nurse – Average salary: £33,951

Note: The example roles and salaries are intended as a guide only.


We are here to support your career goals every step of the way. 

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