Access to Higher Education Diploma

(Social Science and Health)

Awarded by Open College Network West Midlands



1 year (3-4 days per week)



School of Education, Health and Community
Discover more at our next open day

Saturday 21 November 2020

Join an open day

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 a background in health and social care, or want to enter a profession within this field? Are you looking to return to study but finding you don’t yet meet the entry requirements for higher education courses? Our Access to Higher Education Diploma is a highly-recognised and intensive Level 3 qualification (equivalent to A-Levels) that can help you take the next step.

This college course combines building your learning skills – e.g. academic writing skills and study techniques – with a foundation of subjects related to social science and health, including psychology, social influence, anatomy, disease, nutrition and cell biology. Completing the diploma will open the door for you to enter higher education study in related fields, such as childhood studies, nursing and midwifery, paramedic practice, public health, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work or psychology. (Please note many of these career pathways do also require GCSE English, maths and – in some cases – science at grade 4/C or above.)

Our Access to Higher Education course is specifically designed for:

  • Students with a current or previous role in care (e.g. health assistant, care assistant, care worker)
  • Students who have not benefited from previous educational experience due to their individual circumstances
  • Learners seeking a change of direction or a career boost, and who can demonstrate their interest in entering a profession related to health and social care
  • Anyone who wants to return to study having been out of education for a long time

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

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

Course breakdown

Topics you will study:

Social science academic subjects

  • Introduction to psychology
  • Social influence
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Introduction to sociology
  • Sociology of health

Health academic subjects

  • Anatomy
  • Human disease and prevention
  • Human nutrition and the digestive system
  • Human reproduction, growth and development
  • Respiration and circulation
  • Cell biology

Skills for Learning

  • Progression to higher education
  • Preparing for a higher education admission interview
  • Academic writing skills and study techniques

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.

Career pathways linked to this area of study such as nursing, midwifery, social work or occupational health will require students to have achieved GCSE English Language and maths.

  • Applicants must have at least three years’ life experience outside of formal education gained since completing compulsory schooling.
  • Applicants must have a minimum of GCSE English Language or maths at grade 4 (grade C) or Functional Skills Level 2.
  • Applicants will be required to achieve a Level 2 in the BKSB assessments at interview.

Additional Information

There may be the opportunity to study GCSE English Language/maths alongside the course as part of your studies.

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

Key information

Teaching and assessment

Learning will be assessed in a variety of methods to prepare you for study at university – these may include essays, report writing, online assessment and presentations.

In order to successfully complete the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Science and Health), you must achieve a total of 60 credits (including social science academic subjects, health academic subjects and Skills for Learning).

You must achieve 60 credits at Level 3. 45 are Graded Credits in Academic Modules at Pass, Merit or Distinction, and 15 are Ungraded Credits in Skills for Learning.

Our teaching and assessment is underpinned by our Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategy 2015-2020.

My teachers have the time and patience to explain any questions raised. What I have learned has helped me organise my assignments, learn how to research essential information on the internet and in text books, and given me a fair idea about what I will be studying at the University.

Gifty Adubea Darko Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Science and Health)

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, Physiotherapy, Early Childhood Studies (Graduate Practitioner), Health and Social Care and Youth, Community and Families.

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


Average Salary: £25,794

Adult nurse

Average Salary: £33,834

Social worker

Average Salary: £29,624

Learning disability nurse

Average Salary: £24,905


Average Salary: £28,803

Mental health nurse

Average Salary: £24,907

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. 


Find out more


Emma’s Story

Emma knew she wanted to study for a degree in this field, she just needed a vehicle to get her there.

Read Story

Take the next step...