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Access to HE Science at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

Truro College has developed a comprehensive Access to Higher Education programme to meet the needs of students. The majority of students who have followed Access programmes at Truro College have been successful in gaining places at Colleges and Universities of their choice.

Course content

15 Academic Subject Content (ASC) units are offered in the following:

  • Biology and chemistry - We currently offer a science programme of biology and chemistry. 6 units are offered for each, which more than satisfies the requirements of most university courses.
  • Research project - Students undertake an independent research project in a field in which they are interested. This comprises of 2 units worth of work where they are expected to plan and implement a practical and write up a full scientific report. This is invaluable preparation for study at higher education.
  • Maths - A statistics unit is offered to support students with their projects where they will be expected to analyse the data they collect to determine its significance.

5 Academic Preparation Skills (APS) units are offered in the following:

  • Study Skills - This comprises of 5 units worth of work and is a defining element of any Access Course. Throughout the course you will gain vital skills to prepare you for study at higher education. This includes researching your choices at higher education and support throughout the application process through to interview preparation skills. In addition you will develop your written skills through the academic writing skills unit which covers research, essay writing skills and referencing. The examination techniques and practice unit focuses on effective revision techniques and evaluation skills. Finally, the introduction to scientific method unit will prepare you for your independent research project.
  • Information Technology - Whatever your level of confidence in IT, we will help you to develop your skills in word processing, presentation software and spreadsheets. Whilst this is not taught as a discrete subject IT skills are embedded into the Access Course. We have a large network of computers with internet access, an extensive eLibrary and a diverse range of software. 

Entry requirements

We highly recommend that you have either GCSE English or Maths at Grade C or above, preferably both, in place before you commence the course. Students are expected to undergo an interview and a profiling assessment.

This course is 30 weeks starting in September and finishing in May. Taught hours are up to 15 hours per week. Lectures are taught over 3 days per week.


The Credit System - The course is credit based. For each unit completed, three credits are awarded. Students are required to gain a minimum of 60 credits in total. 45 credits must be achieved at level 3 from Academic Subject Content (ASC) units; the remaining 15 credits can be at level 2 or 3 from Academic Preparation Skills (APS) units. Credits are achieved by completing units that may consist of several coursework based assignments.

The Grading System - The Access to HE Diploma has a grading system. All L3 credits gained from ASC units are awarded a pass, merit or distinction grade based on the quality of the work. Increasingly, universities are making graded offers to Access students that require students to gain a certain number of credits at merit or distinction level. Some universities require these to be in certain module areas e.g. biology or chemistry.

Future opportunities

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is awarded by ‘apt awards’ and is nationally recognised as an alternative educational pathway into Higher Education. 

In addition, the course is endorsed by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). On completion students have the opportunity to apply for professional registration with the Science Council to achieve Registered Science Technician (RSciTech) status.   This will provide students with additional employability skills and is excellent preparation for higher education.

The majority of British universities recognise this qualification as an excellent preparation for university and accept the Access to HE Diploma as an alternative to A’ levels and other more traditional routes. The vast majority of our students are accepted at their first choice of university. In previous years students have gained places at a wide range of universities from Plymouth and Exeter to further afield at Kings College London, Birmingham, Glamorgan and Aberdeen to name a few. Students have gained places to study degrees such as Paramedic Practitioner, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Dietetics, Radiography, Marine Biology, Zoology, Biochemistry, Chemistry and Foundation Degrees in Biomedical Science, Animal Science, Forensics and many more!

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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