Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) - Health and Medical Science


Why choose Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science)?

This Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) is aimed to provide various pathways into a career in Science, with a focus on Health and Medical Science. You might find getting into the university of your choice is not possible with the qualifications you currently hold, this course can evidence your interest in Science and willingness to work. It can help you meet University entry requirements so you can embark on a scientific degree course. You could also use it to apply for entry-level jobs in scientific settings, eg. research laboratories and scientific data gathering organisations. All of which could bring you additional experience while you study.

The Health and Medical Science modules are often selected by those interested in careers in Physiotherapy, Radiology, Podiatry, Nursing and Medicine and wish to meet the entry requirements for University degrees in these subjects. This qualification would also be appropriate for a host of other Science related degrees.

We strongly recommend that you check with the University that you wish to attend, ask if they will accept Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) as an entry requirement. Universities across the country all have varying entrance requirements.

Your online Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) study programme can begin immediately, we don’t have set start dates, so you don’t have to wait till September.

In addition to the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) most colleges and universities will ask for a minimum of GCSE grade C in English and Maths, or an accepted equivalent. This is why we also have the same minimum requirement to start your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Education).

How will I study my Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science)

Initially, we will supply you with online course materials that are comprehensive and engaging. Further support is offered with a broad range of relevant and useful information that will enable you to extend your studies where necessary.

You can communicate with your Assessor via our learning environment’s built in messaging system. When you submit an assignment, your assessor will give personal feedback and signpost you to any further information, or pass your assignment and will let you know how well you are doing.

The flexibility of being able to study from laptop, tablet, PC or phone, anywhere and anytime, makes learning very accessible and gives you more control over your time. It can fit neatly around your other commitments, eg. work and child care. You will be given an online learning planner so you can plan your learning time and make sure you proceed at a pace that’s realistic and meaningful but, importantly, that works for you.

You can choose how much time you would like to take to study your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science). It could be anything from 9 months to 2 years. If you’re in a hurry to go to university you can ‘up’ the pace. The intensity and format of the course means you quickly gain valuable skills and knowledge, despite a more relaxed learning schedule.

Modules for this course

Unit 1: Preparing To Study

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand how study is organised and planned
  • Understand how to apply theories of learning in relation to personal approaches to learning
  • Understand a range of constraints upon study
  • Understand the importance of assessment feedback.

Unit 2: Academic Writing Skills

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Be able to write with relevance in responding to an academic task.
  • Know how to interpret and discuss concepts and debates in responding to a set, academic writing task.
  • Be able to summarise for academic purposes, selecting key points, information or central ideas.
  • Understand the role of reference, allusion and paraphrase to avoid plagiarism.

Unit 3: Preparing a Written Assignment 

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand how to use key information sources.
  • Understand why sources are acknowledged and referenced.
  • Understand a range of reading strategies.
  • Understand note-making methods.
  • Understand how to plan draft and produce a written assignment.

Unit 4: Independent Research 

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Be able to plan a piece of research on an approved subject area.
  • Be able to collect research material from different sources
  • Be able to use data to substantiate an argument
  • Be able to record sources of information
  • Be able to present research findings

Unit 5: Human Nutrition & the Digestive System

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the structure and functions of the organs of the digestive system.
  • Understand nutrients and their sources.
  • Understand how diet may influence health.

Unit 6: The Human Musculo-Skeletal System

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand anatomical terminology
  • Understand the skeletal system and locomotion
  • Understand the muscular system

Unit 7: Progressing to Higher Education

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand potential next steps in education.
  • Understand key sources of information relevant to HE application.
  • Understand personal HE opportunities.
  • Understand the financial implications of further study.
  • Know how to apply for a course

Unit 8: Cell Biology

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the cell.
  • Understand cellular metabolism.
  • Understand how cells grow and divide.

Unit 9: Radioactivity

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the main types of ionising radiations and their measurement.
  • Understand radioactive decay.
  • Understand the practical applications of ionising radiation and radioisotopes and their use with acceptable safety.

Unit 10: Human Reproduction, Growth & Development 

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the structure and function of the human reproductive system
  • Understand how hormones regulate the reproductive tract throughout life
  • Understand the sequence of events from conception to puberty

Unit 11: The Human Endocrine & Nervous System 

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the anatomy and organisation of the nervous system and how it co- ordinates the body.
  • Understand the structure and function of nerve cells and other cells in the nervous system.
  • Understand how the endocrine system co-ordinates body functions.
  • Understand homeostasis.

Unit 12: Cell Metabolism

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the glycolytic pathway and fermentation of sugar to yield alcohol.
  • Understand the tricarboxylic acid cycle.
  • Understand the dark reactions in photosynthesis.

Unit 13: Human Immunity

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand non-specific defences against disease.
  • Understand specific immunity and the immune response.
  • Understand the biology of vaccination.
  • Understand how immune sensitivity may cause ill-health.

Unit 14: Cell Division & Heredity

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of cell division.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of heredity and genetic variation.

Unit 15: Physics

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the connection between force and motion and be able to use Newton’s Laws of Motion.
  • Understand conservation of energy and momentum.
  • Understand the concepts and vocabulary of wave motion.

Unit 16: Medical Physics

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand atomic structure.
  • Understand the nature of alpha, beta and gamma radiation, and X-rays.
  • Understand the main uses of ionising radiation in monitoring and treatment.
  • Understand how radio isotopes are used in health care.
  • Understand the health applications of a selected part of electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Understand how ultrasound is used in health care.

Unit 17: Mechanics

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand vectors and vector addition.
  • Understand vector resolution.
  • Understand the nature of uniformly accelerated motion.
  • Understand projectile motion.
  • Understand Newton’s Laws of Motion.
  • Understand momentum and its conservation.

Unit 18: Optics & Sound

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the Laws of Reflection.
  • Understand the Laws of Refraction.
  • Understand the action of convex and concave lenses.
  • Understand the simple optics of the eye.
  • Understand the nature of transverse and longitudinal wave motions.
  • Understand how the ear detects sound waves.

Unit 19: Electromagnetic Spectrum

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the principles and types of electromagnetic waves.
  • Understand the properties of visible and ultraviolet light.
  • Understand the properties of microwaves and infrared.
  • Understand the biohazards of ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
  • Understand the hazards and uses of X- Rays in medical applications.


Learners wishing to complete an Access to Higher Education Diploma need to have a GCSE in Maths and English or an appropriate equivalent qualification at level 2 or above and have the ultimate goal of studying a related degree at university.

For a wide range of universities Access to Higher Education Diplomas fulfil part of their entry criteria on many of their courses. Access to Higher Education Diplomas are eligible to be used within the standard UCAS application process. Access to Higher Education Diplomas have historically been an effective way to help learners get places at their university and degree of choice. It is important potential learners should understand that each University will have their own set of admission criteria and that they only have a set number of places on each course. These admission criteria can change at any time at the university’s discretion and include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Achievement of a set amount of credits at Merit or Distinction level.

2. Attendance and success at a face-to-face interview at the University.

3. Fulfilling a Universities proprietary literacy and numeracy standards and potentially passing an in-house assessment.

4. Completion of a mandatory prescribed work placements, work experience and potentially a sandwich year of paid work experience.

5. It is recommended that learners starting their Access to Higher Education Diploma have a GCSE Grade A – C in Maths and English (or equivalent Level 2 such as Functional Skills/Key Skills etc.) OR a full level 2 qualification in a related subject. These conditions form part of some universities entrance criteria.

All learners studying for an Access to Higher Education Diploma must perform their own research to ensure their diploma is correctly specified. It is the learners responsibility to ensure that the Diploma they are studying gives them the best possible chance of being accepted for a place on a course at their university of choice. This research must be undertaken independently as soon as possible once the learner has started their course, it can even begin beforehand. West London and Ealing College will not be able to  accept responsibility or any liability with respect to any Access to Higher Education Diploma learner failing to gain an offer from a Higher Education institution.


Every Access to Higher Education Diploma is composed of graded and ungraded units. After each unit there will be an assignment that will need to be completed and each one must be submitted online. These assignments will contain different types of task and can include any of the following: a short series of questions, an essay, an academic report, a presentation and a case study review. Within your course materials you will find comprehensive multimedia content designed to help you complete each assignment. Once you have submitted your assignment your assessor will mark your work and respond with feedback as well as ideas on how you can improve future assignments.

Learners work their way through each ungraded and graded unit in sequence. On the graded units learners should attempt to get as many ‘Distinction’ credits as possible. The graded units are very important. Some university offers maybe conditional on achievement of a certain number of ‘Distinctions’ and/or ‘Merits’. The sequence of our diploma is designed so that you work through the ungraded study skills units first. These units give you a chance to practice the skills required that will help you get the highest possible grades on the graded units.

Working through each unit in sequence ensures that your assessor can consistently monitor your progress, provide you with feedback and assistance throughout the duration of the course. The approximate time required to complete an Access to Higher Education Diploma is 360 hrs.

In order to gain your diploma you need to successfully pass all units within the course.

Important notice: Online access is required in order to access your course content and submit your assignments.

Open College Network West Midlands Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science)
Following successful completion of this diploma you will be awarded a QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma at level 3 (QAA ref: 40004004). This diploma has been assigned 60 credits.

Open College Network West Midlands

Open College Network West Midlands is a national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and Qualifications Wales, to develop and award nationally recognised qualifications.

Open College Network West Midlands work in partnership with employers, training providers, colleges, universities, schools and voluntary and community organisations to offer vocational credit-based qualifications, Access to Higher Education Diplomas and quality assured Customised Accreditation that enables learners gain employment or to progress into further learning and Higher Education. Open College Network West Midlands also Quality Endorse organisations internal training and skills delivery.

Developing your career

We have designed our innovative learning platform specifically for Access to Higher Education Diploma delivery. Our industry leading platform gives you the best possible chance of succeeding and gaining a place at your university of choice and unlocking your dream career. All course materials are available online 24/7 ensuring you can study wherever and whenever you want.

During your journey to gain your Access to Higher Education Diploma with us we will work with you on your university application. It is likely that during your course you will start to receive University offers. Employers view Higher Education degrees as a signal of a learners ability to work independently and succeed. These are desirable features and so the power of a degree qualification is not to be underestimated. We will work with you to help you succeed and stand out from the crowd!

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Further Information

Course ref: 40004004

Course starts: Anytime

Guided Learning Hours: 360

Level: 3

Modules: 19

Technical requirements


All professional development students are eligible for the NUS Extra card, which gives you access to over 200 UK student discounts with brands like Co-op, Amazon and ASOS.