Access to higher education diploma

This 60 credit programme is professionally accredited for youth work through ABC Awards, and via CLD Standards Council for Scotland for community learning and development. It is also mapped against the Social Pedagogy Professional Association’s new standards for social pedagogy.

Along with all other Access programmes it is regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency for higher education (QAA) so employers and colleagues know the standards you meet are comparable with A levels.

Why study with us?

Access to HE Diplomas were originally designed for people who do not have the qualifications to enter a university level course but who do have life experience and a willingness to learn. However, when they are combined with professional qualifications they also provide a great framework for those wanting to develop their practice.

Our Access programme focuses on work with children, young people, families and communities.

Concerned with the development of the whole person and of community, it brings together informal education, community learning and development, helping and care. At its heart is relationship practice and encouraging change.

In this programme we explore how this holistic way of working helps people to develop and change their lives.

What do you study?

Within the programme there are different strands

Informal education

Helping, mentoring and community learning

Outdoor learning

Community sports development

Christian work with young people and communities

Social pedagogy and work with vulnerable young people

Social pedagogy in specialist education settings

You study the following modules

Introducing study – including exploring returning to studying; key themes of the programme and it works

Reflecting on our experiences – including looking at our experiences; attending to feelings; deepening understanding; working one-to-one; building relationships

Exploring helping – including thinking about helping, relationship, community development and participation

Facilitating informal education – including being an educator; trusting in conversation; fostering democracy and association; exploring refection and learning; living with values

Teaching and group work – including thinking about needs; designing programmes; teaching; managing groups; assessment and evaluation of activities; working with groups

Reflection on professional practice – direct work with children, young people and communities (3 modules)

You then study a unit on your specialist subject (details can be found by following the links to the different specialisms).

After that you then complete one further unit which has been designed to both deepen your understanding of your specialism, and develop your research skills.

Independent academic study (Professional studies) – Reflecting on ourselves as researchers. The value of research skills. Getting started. Getting data. Developing analysis and conclusions. Presenting findings.

How the Access to Higher Education Diploma works

UCAS – the main national route for making applications to university – has a new tariff or points system. It uses the credits you gain on your access programme to work out the entry points you have. The table below gives some examples – and how they stack up in relation to A levels.

In an Access programme of 60 credits, 45 of these are graded and then used to build the score.

Pass credits Merit


Distinction credits New UCAS tariff points A Level tariff point example
45 0 0 48 EEE (or single A grade A-level)
30 15 0 64 DDE (or two grade C A-levels)
15 15 15 96 CCC
0 45 0 96 CCC
0 30 15 112 BBC070669
0 15 30 128 ABB
0 0 45 144 AAA

On the UCAS site there is a handy calculator where you feed in your results and see how many points you have. []

How does Diploma Studies work?

Students can apply for this diploma programme at anytime of the year. They are then registered at the nearest start point – January, May or September.

Most students complete these courses within 12 months. They learn through a using a mix of face-to-face practice, online forums, specially prepared interactive study materials (they can be used on mobile phones, tablets and computers or simply printed off), and activities and assignments. Students also have the support of a work place supervisor and a tutor. Materials, forums and activites are accessed, and work submitted, through our dedicated e-learning system ymoodle.

Diplomas are awarded on the basis of successful completion of a work based placement; written assignments and activities; regular meetings with a dedicated supervisor and line manager; and submission of final professional practice assessment package.

The College is also able to organise a taught version of the diploma for agencies that have a group of students who want to complete the course with the support of a tutor. Please contact us for further information.

Academic standards

All students following the 54 credits and 60 credits programmes are registered with LASER Learning Awards. LASER is licensed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to award the Access to HE Diploma. They approve all Diploma Studies units, and they also oversee academic standards on our programmes.

Click for details of cost and how to apply.

Picture: ‘Natural History Museum’ by  lizzybeans11. Sourced from Flickr and reproduced under a Creative Commons  Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence.