Access to HE Diploma (Social Science)

The aim of this Access to HE qualification is primarily to prepare students for progression to university by offering them the opportunity to achieve a nationally recognised qualification. This is ideal if you have missed out on the opportunity to study previously, but now wish to improve your future prospects and plan to undertake a degree. If you are looking to develop the skills necessary for entry to university, learn new skills to boost your career prospects, or change your career direction to an entirely new area, then this could be for you.

This full-time course is designed to cater for students who have maturity and significant life experience beyond formal education. It is the equivalent of two to three A levels (level 3), the normal minimum requirement for entry on to a degree course. Completed in one academic year, this is an intensive programme, but you will be assisted throughout with study skills and applying for university, until you feel confident and ready for the next level. The Access to HE Diploma in Social Science is designed to give you the knowledge and core skills you need and you can look forward to learning alongside like-minded people, in a supportive environment with experienced, friendly tutors.

Social Science is an exciting subject area that encompasses a wide range of disciplines such as psychology, sociology and social policy. In its wider context it allows us to understand how society has developed and why it functions as it does today. It can give us a deeper understanding and appreciation of events that are taking place in the world around us and provides us with an invaluable background that can lead to a range of degree options and career opportunities such as social work, criminal justice, local government, civil service, youth and community work, politics, the media and so on. Organisations are keen to sign up graduates because it is recognised that they will have developed skills in areas such as research and analysis that are invaluable in an employment environment.

When will I start the course and how long will it take?

The course will start in September and will last for one academic year. Attendance will be for approximately three days per week.

What will I study?

The Access to HE Diploma (Social Science) covers units drawn from three main subject (module) areas, as well as core study skills. Modules consist of five individual units:


  • Psychological Perspectives
  • Perception
  • Heredity versus Environment
  • Early Social Development
  • Concepts of Normality and Mental Health


  • Sociological Theory
  • Social Stratification and Inequality
  • Sociology of the Modern Family in Britain
  • Sociological Explanations of Crime
  • Changing Beliefs

Social Policy

  • History of Social Policies
  • Poverty in Contemporary Britain
  • Criminological Practice
  • Criminology of Prisons
  • Social Work and Mental Health

Core Studies

  • Communication: Academic Essay Writing
  • Personal development: Applying for Higher Education
  • Personal development: Study Skills
  • Communication: Presentation Skills
  • Using Research Skills

How is it assessed?

The course is assessed via a combination of coursework, such as essays and presentations, as well as controlled examinations. There are four modules, each consisting of five units. A unit is worth either three or six credits and students need sixty credits in order to pass the course.

Do I need any previous qualifications to start this course?

To undertake this qualification, you do not need to have been in education recently.

You will need to have already achieved a minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4 or above (equivalent to grade C or above) including English at grade 5 or above (equivalent to grade B or above). If you wish to progress on to a degree in psychology, then you may also need a GCSE at grade C or above in maths. Students with alternative qualifications may be considered and all applicants will be required to undertake a diagnostic exercise, as well as an interview, before being offered a place.

However, if you don't have these GCSEs, don't let this be a barrier to realising your aspirations. We have a range of options available to help you gain qualifications and provide the stepping stones needed to get to university.

What are the course fees?

Course fees are dependent on your personal circumstances and you may be eligible for funding. For more information on the financial support that may be available, please visit our dedicated Adult Financial support page.

If you are aged 19+ you could also choose to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to cover your course fees enabling you to study now, pay later. Loan eligibility isn't dependent on income or employment status and there is no credit check. Loan repayments don't start until you have finished your course and earn over £25,000 per year. For more information, please visit our dedicated Advanced Learner Loan page.

If you take out an Advanced Learner Loan to cover the course fees for an Access to HE course, and then successfully complete a degree, then you don't have to repay the outstanding loan for the Access to HE course.

What can I go on to do once I have completed this course?

Upon successful completion, this qualification will prepare you to undertake a degree in a variety of fields.

You could also progress directly onto our degree in Social Policy, Health and Housing or Criminal Justice at University Centre St Helens. Some of our successful alumni have used the course as a route into:

  • Social Work
  • Housing
  • Criminal Justice
  • Research and Lecturing
  • Community Development
  • Charitable Organisations
  • Local Government
  • Civil Service

Depending on your chosen progression route, some universities may expect you to have gained experience working in a relevant setting. You are strongly advised to check the entry requirements for your preferred universities. If you wish to move into social work, you are required to have paid or voluntary experience of working in a related area.

I'm interested in this course, what do I do next?

If you would like any further information in relation to this course, please contact our enquiries team directly on 0800 99 66 99 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You could also drop into our next Enrolment and Information Event. Alternatively, submit an application form to secure a place.

Ref: Peter Gore