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Access to HE Diploma (Biological Sciences)

The aim of this Access to HE qualification is to provide appropriate preparation and a recognised qualification for progression to university. This is ideal if you have missed out on an opportunity to study previously; whether you are looking to develop new skills to boost your career prospects, you want to gain entry to university or change your career direction.

This full-time course is designed for mature students who want to access university. It is the equivalent of three A levels, completed in one academic year. It is an intensive programme but will assist you with study skills, confidence building and applying for university. Your learning will take place alongside like-minded people in a supportive environment with experienced, friendly tutors.

Biological Sciences is an exciting and rapidly developing subject area encompassing the study of living things and topics such as cell biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology.

This diploma in Biological Sciences is designed to give you the knowledge, core skills and confidence to progress onto degree courses in nursing, midwifery, forensic science, teaching, biology and the health related professions.

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

The course will start in September. The course will last for one academic year, with attendance being approximately three days per week.

What will I study?

The Access to HE diploma in biological sciences covers units drawn from a range of science topics as well as core study skills.

This is a modular course consisting of individual units:

  • Organisation of the body
  • Body defences
  • Diet and digestion
  • Exchange and transport of gases
  • Human cardiovascular system
  • Coordination and control
  • Practical microbiological techniques
  • Microorganisms
  • Microbial biotechnology
  • Control of infection
  • Genetics
  • Homeostasis
  • The musculoskeletal system
  • The human life cycle
  • Communication: using research skills
  • Personal development: applying for higher education
  • Personal development: study skills
  • Use of number: numbers and algebra
  • ICT word processing

How is it assessed?

The course is assessed via a combination of coursework and controlled examinations. Each subject offers five units; each unit is worth three credits. 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.

We do recommend that you have GCSEs at grade C or above in English and maths (or equivalent). It would be desirable for you to also have a science GCSE.

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

We may consider level 2 equivalent qualifications in English and maths providing that the university you wish to progress onto accept this qualification too. You should check this directly with them before applying to us and provide evidence.

All applicants will need to undertake, and pass a diagnostic exercise to successfully secure a place on the course.

What are the course fees?

Course fees are dependent on your personal circumstances and you may be eligible for funding. If you are aged 19 - 23 and this is your first full level 3 qualification, 100% of your course fees will be covered. More information can be provided upon application.

If you are aged 19+ you could also choose to apply for a 19+ 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 £21,000 per year.

If you successfully complete your Access to HE course and progress onto a degree course, your 19+ Advanced Learner Loan will be written off and you do not need to repay the loan.

For more information on the Advanced Learner Loan, please click here. For more information on the financial support that may be available, please click here.

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 biological science or health based fields.

You could also progress directly onto our foundation degree in applied microbiology at University Centre St Helens.

Some of our successful alumni have used the course as a route into:

  • Teaching
  • Nursing
  • Midwifery
  • Physiotherapy
  • Operating Department Practitioner (ODP)
  • Diagnostic radiography
  • Biomedical science
  • Language and speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy and
  • Prosthetics and orthotics
  • Human biology
  • Forensic science
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Anatomy and infectious diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Paramedic Practice

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 teaching, you are required to possess GCSEs at grade C or above in English, maths and science. Some institutions may require a higher GCSE grade than C so please check directly.

As with all qualifications, the award of this Access to HE diploma does not guarantee progression onto higher education. This will be dependent on students meeting conditions set by individual universities for specific degrees.

Please note that this course doesn't contain significant levels of chemistry or physics so wouldn't allow for progression onto degree courses in nutrition, pharmacy, medicine, dentistry or veterinary science.

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: Linda Waddecar