The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a year-long qualification which prepares people without traditional qualifications for study at university.

Further information
If you have any further questions, please come along to one of our open days.

Once you have applied, you will be invited for an interview with one of the course tutors to discuss further details.
If you are not offered a place on the Access to HE course because you do not have the required qualifications, you may be offered a place on a Preparation for Access (Skills) course. This will help you brush up on the numeracy and literacy skills needed to progress onto the Access to HE course. The interview for the Access to HE course will take place at:

Centre for Applied Sciences
The Angel
311-321 Goswell Road

Funding and Advanced Learner Loans
Access to HE courses are free for 19-23 year olds, providing this will be your first level 3 qualification. If you are aged 24 or over and want to study an Access to HE course, you may be eligible for an Advanced Learning Loan, which will cover the cost of the course, and unlike a foundation year it will be completely written off should you successfully complete a Higher Education qualification. Doing this Access course allows you to apply to 5 different universities through UCAS.

When you complete a higher education course you will not have to repay the Advanced Learner Loan for your Access to HE Diploma course. This doesn't have to be a full bachelor's degree; it could be a foundation degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND) studied at a university or at a local college that offers HE courses. The Access to HE Diploma is the only qualification that offers this loan waiver.

A university foundation year is often taught in a partner college at a cost up to £9,250. It is not cleared when you progress and added to your overall cost. An Access course gives you the same opportunities to progress onto a degree however the cost of the access course is cancelled as above.

Medicine & Medical Bio Sciences - Access to Higher Education Diploma


Science students at City and Islington College

About the course

If you are a mature student (19+) with an interest in medicine or medically related sciences, this course could be for you. It's geared toward people with life experience and enthusiasm who want to enter Higher Education, but who don't yet have the formal qualifications necessary.

You must be a mature student (19+) at the start of the course with more than 2 weeks of work experience.

You are required to hold a GCSE English and maths (or equivalent) at grade C (4) or above before the commencement of the course. This can be higher depending on your degree choice - applicants wishing to study Optometry would need a GCSE maths grade B (6) or higher and applicants wishing to study Medicine or Dentistry would need GCSE English and maths grade B (6) or higher.

Applicants who wish to study Medicine or Dentistry at any university must take a UCAT at an independent centre before starting the course. This is required for the 4, 5 and 6 year options. They would need to obtain a score of at least 630, with a minimum of 550 in each section. This equates to a total score of 2520. Achieving band 1 or 2 is highly recommended. If you are applying to a university which is asking for a BMAT, we would ask for a BMAT score of 15.5 out of 28 in additional to the UCAT. If you are a graduate, you may also be required to sit a GAMSAT but you would need to check this with the individual university.

You do not need any formal qualifications in science but need to demonstrate an aptitude and strong interest in your chosen pathway.

Photo ID will be required at all stages of the application process. Applicants should check the entry requirements for their university choice and have completed relevant work experience, such as work placements in clinics, surgeries, hospitals or residential homes etc. in preparation for their personal statement.

International Students

  • Equivalent overseas qualifications will be considered
  • IELTS 6.0 (with a minimum of 6 in each skill) or equivalent
  • Medicine and Dentistry applicants need to have been out of education for more than 3 years and have IELTS scores of 7 or higher

You will study modules in Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, as well additional units in Study Skills. The science units are graded to pass, merit or distinction whilst the study skills units are ungraded. Students cannot resit units to achieve upgrades.

Assessment is both continuous throughout the course, and based on written examinations. You will achieve a diploma in 'Access to H.E. Medicine and Medical Biosciences'. The course is 'kite marked' and awarded by OCNL (Open College Network London). The course is fully approved by OCNL and QAA and follows their rules and guidelines.

Students have progressed to Higher Education courses in medicine, dentistry, radiography, optometry, nursing, pharmacology, biomedicine, biology, genetics, nutrition, dietetics, psychology, physiotherapy.

Hope Timson

Hope Timson

Hope Timson

Hope Timson

Studied: Medicine & Medical Bio Sciences - Access to Higher Education Diploma

Destination: Optometry, Manchester University

“I have enjoyed my experience here. The Access course has enabled me to have the opportunity to go to university to study Optometry, something which I didn’t think would be possible having not gained any A levels. The teachers and staff are so friendly and helpful which has helped me to feel comfortable returning to education. “

Course information

Start date
(see other dates)
14 September 2020

Select your preferred start date

Course level
Level 3
Course code
Start date
End date
36 Weeks
Applied Sciences
Class Type
Full time
Student Type
Adults (19+)

If you are aged 19+ and looking to study a Level 3 or above course, you may be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan to cover your course fees.

£9500.00 per year
£3384.00 per year
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Thinking about studying with us? Come and meet staff and students, and see for yourself what we can offer you.

Centre for Applied Sciences building

Centre for Applied Sciences

In the heart of Angel, this Centre offers you the chance to study Medicine, Pharmacy, Optometry, Sport Science, Forensics, Vet Sciences and Engineering.

How to apply

How to apply

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