Where will this course lead?

This one-year programme is for students who wish to study a science-based degree course but do not have the required formal science qualifications. This course is ideal for those who left school some years ago and are looking for a career change or have experience of working in the science industry and want to achieve a relevant degree qualification.

The applicant must be aged 19, or over, on September 1 of the year of entry to qualify for the course.

What will I study?

On the course, you will study the following subjects:

- Biology - cell biology, genetics, human immunity, human diet and nutrition, human respiration and circulation

- Chemistry - atomic structure and bonding, hydrocarbons, chemical elements and reactions, functional groups, physical chemistry, biochemistry

- Physics - general physics, optics and sound, electromagnetic spectrum, radioactivity, medical physics

- Study skills

How will this course be delivered?

The course involves a mixture of classroom lectures, workshops and practical work. The sessions are designed to prepare for the university study environment and disciplined, unsupervised personal study is expected from early on.

What qualifications will I get?

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science)

This Access to Higher Education Diploma will enable students to qualify for university courses starting in the same year the diploma was achieved. It is not a qualification that can be held in reserve for later use. Though many universities will accept the Access to Higher Education Diploma after a gap year, that is not guaranteed for all courses and institutions.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is through assignments, laboratory-based projects and written exams. There are seventeen units on the course (listed above). All need to be completed to qualify for the diploma. The qualification itself is based on a credit system. The diploma is worth 60 credits of which 15 are ungraded (pass only) and 45 are graded at Pass, Merit or Distinction. More details on this will be supplied during course induction.

The deadline for completing all the work of this course is fixed to a date in early July when the grades are verified at the Final Awards Board chaired by the Open College Network West Midlands. After then the grades are ratified by the board and the achievement certificates are posted.

How do I get a place on the course?

The applicant will need to demonstrate ability and commitment and be able to show appropriate science skills or experience that will allow potential success on this Level 3 programme. This is achieved in two stages: a formal interview and a diagnostic test.

The interview:

- Applicants will be questioned on career objectives, prior qualifications and their suitability and eligibility for the programme.

The diagnostic test:

- Applicants will be assessed on their scientific knowledge by means of a short assessment, details of which will be posted in advance. There is a pass mark for this test to allow the applicant to be offered a place.

What are the entry requirements?

A science qualification is beneficial but not essential as the course is designed to develop and improve science skills. However, a level 3 (or above) qualification in any related subject or a level 2 qualification in science plus relevant work experience would be of benefit. All applications are considered on a personal basis.

GCSE maths and English at grade C (4) or better is ideal but not mandatory. If the applicant has one qualification but not the other, the application will be considered alongside the requirement to retake the GCSE.

If the applicant has neither GCSE maths or English at grade C (4) or better, or has qualifications from outside the UK, then the offer of a place on the course will depend on a very strong result in the diagnostic test. The applicant may be required to study both GCSE maths and English alongside the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

For those who do not achieve the pass mark for the diagnostic test but demonstrate a keenness to study science, a place on a two-year Extended Diploma course may be offered. This does not require the applicant to have GCSE maths and English at grade C (4) or better as they can be studied alongside the course.

What else do I need to know?

Those who are over 24 at the time of application or who have completed another Level 3 qualification are expected to apply for a student loan. This should be in place before the course starts in September so early application is advised. Enrolment on the course can only take place once the loan has been agreed.

If you have a learning difficulty or disability please let the college know when you apply. You will be offered support in the interview. If help is needed completing your application, the college can help with this too. Student support during the course is available too for those who request it or for those who are referred.

What can I do after this course?

Successful completion of this course will allow progression onto a degree in a science-based subject in the following academic year. Past students have gone to study the following courses: physiotherapy, dietetics, radiography, marine biology, biological sciences, forensic science, chemistry and physics.

This course also qualifies successful students to enrol on the Foundation Degree in Applied Biosciences course awarded by Oxford Brookes University but run here at Solihull College & University Centre.


Blossomfield Campus

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Course Code


Study Mode

Part Time