Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Work)


Why choose Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work)?

This Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work) opens up opportunities for you to apply for a degree in social work, or even to go straight into employment where a level 3 qualification is required for entry. If you feel drawn to helping people – sometimes at the most challenging times in their lives – through work with social services, children’s services, safeguarding, mental health services, and many more areas - this course will provide you with a chance to get back into education – perhaps change direction – and make your ambitions real.

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work) is excellent preparation for higher level academic work and some entry level jobs in social work, and will help prepare you for the challenges of this worthwhile profession. For example, social workers have heavy workloads, long days, and often unusual hours, so the organisational and time management skills, as well as the independent research and note-taking you do, will all stand you in good stead for your future career. 

Most universities in the UK will accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas as an entry requirement, though you should check this with individual establishments you would like to attend.

In addition to the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work), most colleges and universities will require  a minimum of GCSE grade C in English and Maths, or an accepted equivalent. For this reason, you will need this minimum requirement to start your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work). 

How will I study my Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work)?

When you begin your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work), we will supply you with course materials that are comprehensive and easy to follow. We also ensure we support your learning with a broad range of relevant and useful information.

You stay in touch regularly with your personal tutor via our platform, using phone, email, or Skype, and because this is distance learning, you can set your own study schedule to fit with your life, rather than fitting your life around your course. The benefit of this is that you can study at the pace most comfortable for you and your responsibilities, using your own study style.

This flexibility allows you to continue your usual day-to-day responsibilities, but it does mean you will be expected to develop the discipline you need to study independently. For example, you will learn to allocate a realistic amount of time to achieve the requirements of the course and ensure you make that time available.

One feature that can be very helpful if you have a very busy life with many responsibilities is that you can choose how much time you would like to take to study your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work). The minimum period of time we expect learners to complete the course is 9 months, and the maximum time is as much as 2 years. However, the intensity and format of the course means you will quickly gain valuable skills and knowledge, no matter how relaxed your learning schedule.

Assessment for my Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work)

The structure of your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work) is designed to be modular, to promote bite-size learning that can be quickly absorbed. It is made up of a series of units, each of which contain one or more smaller parts known as Assessment Criteria. At the end of each unit, you will complete an assignment, marked by your personal tutor. They will feed back to you about the quality and effectiveness of your work, and provide guidance on how you can improve, always aiming to help you achieve more than you expect.

Assignments carry learning credits, which are a standard way of acknowledging student progress through a course. Your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work) carries a maximum of 60 learning credits and you will need to pass all of them to achieve it.

Of those 60 learning credits, 45 will be graded as a Pass, Merit, or Distinction, and 15 will be ungraded.

How can I follow up my Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work)?

When you take the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work), your options expand, so although the primary goal is for you to enrol on a social work-related degree course, you could also be eligible for entry-level jobs in the social work sector. Your personal tutor will assist you where possible in your decision making around this. If you’re interested in attending university, you can find information about each course, your eligibility, and the numbers of credits you need to be accepted on the UCAS (Universities and College Admissions Service) website.

If you are unsure as to what you want to do going forward, you should check out the ‘What to Study’ unit on the UCAS website, and watch the video. There are a huge number of possible careers in social work that will open up to you on completion of your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work). All you have to do is study your hardest, learn as much as you can, and identify the pathway you want to take for a successful future.

If you go on to complete a university qualification, you won’t even have to pay back the 19+ advanced learning loan if you take one out, so check out all the information and ensure you get everything you need to complete your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social work).

Modules for this course

Module 1: Preparing to study

On completion of this module 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

Module 2: Academic writing skills

On completion of this module 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

Module 3:  Preparing a written assignment

On completion of this module 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

Module 4: Independent research

On completion of this module 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

Module 5: Progressing to Higher Education

On completion of this module 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

Module 6:  Introduction to sociology

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand the sociological approach and its distinction from common sense and other social sciences
  • Understand basic concepts in sociological explanation
  • Understand contrasting sociological perspectives
  • Understand concepts and perspectives relating to a specific social institution

Module 7:  Social factors in health care

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand sociological factors influencing the relationships between patients and health professionals
  • Understand the role of social motivational factors in health and ill health
  • Understand the significance of social support networks in health care and maintenance

Module 8: Poverty & health

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand definitions of and explanations for poverty and health
  • Understand approaches to poverty and health
  • Understand the approaches to the social distribution of health chances

Module 9: Sociology of health

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand concepts and models of health
  • Understand the social construction of health and ill health
  • Understand alternative approaches to health

Module 10: Sociology of the family

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand changes in family structure
  • Understand sociological explanations of the family to include functionalist, Marxist, feminist and interactionist views. 
  • Understand the nature and extent of changes within the family, with reference to gender roles, domestic labour and power relationships. 
  • Understand changing patterns of marriage, divorce, separation and child rearing. 

Module 11:  Introduction to social work

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand the historical development of social work
  • Understand the roles and tasks of social workers
  • Understand the legal basis of social work
  • Understand how social work services are organised in the statutory, voluntary and independent sector
  • Understand the main purposes and values of social work

Module 12:  Morals and ethics in social work

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand ethics and ethical issues in social work practice
  • Understand moral dilemmas and social work practice

Module 13:  Anti-Oppressive practice

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand the legal framework which identifies rights and responsibilities in relation to equal opportunities
  • Understand how individuals can be affected by oppression
  • Understand society’s and own stereotypes
  • Understand the use of positive action incountering oppression

Module 14: Combating prejudice & discrimination

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand theoretical explanations for prejudice and discrimination
  • Understand legislative responses to discrimination and prejudice
  • Understand community initiatives in

Module 15:  Personal social services

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand the development of social care in Britain and the importance of legislation since 1945
  • Understand the varying nature of social work provision for children and adults
  • Understand the role of the independent sector in the provision of welfare
  • Understand the welfare requirements of various groups

Module 16:  Contemporary issues in social policy

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand current issues in social policy
  • Understand current legislation in relation to current issues in social policy. 
  • Understand the economic context of a contemporary issue. 

Module 17:  Foundations of social policy

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand the historical origins of social policy in the U.K
  •  Understand the key influences on social policy in the 18th and 19th Centuries. 
  • Understand changes in the political order. 
  • Understand different types of voluntary action and role of poverty surveys. 

Module 18: The origins of the welfare state

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand what is meant by the term social welfare
  • Know the purpose of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and its effects on society
  • Explain and discuss early twentieth century Liberal Reforms and their effect on society
  • Recognise the significance of the Beveridge Report
  • Recognise the social problems which the Welfare State attempted to address

Module 19: Introduction to psychology

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand the importance of research in psychology
  • Understand the main approaches in psychology
  • Understand ethical issues in psychological research

Module 20: The brain & nervous system

On completion of this module you will:

  • Understand the major sub divisions of the nervous system
  • Understand the structure and function of glial cells and neurons


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 (Social Work)
Following successful completion of this diploma you will be awarded a QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma at level 3 (QAA ref:400/0409/0). 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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Course Fees

Price £3,022.00

Payment methods

1 Pay with Advanced Learner Loan
(No repayments until your salary reaches £21,000)
Loan registration fee = 
Loan funding amount = 
Total fee = 

2 Pay in Full - £3022.00

3 Pay by Instalments - £3,022.00
Deposit of 50% of fee + £20 admin fee
Plus 2 payments of 25% (3 and 6 months into the course)

ENROL NOW - Choose payment method

Further Information

Course ref: 40004090

Course starts: Anytime

Guided Learning Hours: 360

Modules: 20

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.