Northern College LogoNorthern College for Residential and Community Adult Education

College Video Play button Login to the college Wi-Fi
  • image
  • Access to HE Certification 'QAA recognised' Certa Certification
Course Booklet Download

Course Info

Course Info

What is the Diploma Programme?

The Access to HE Diploma Programme is a modular course that offers adults who are returning to learning a broad range of subjects to study; and the opportunity to prepare effectively for higher education and degree level study.

The course enables adults to gain an Access to Higher Education Diploma. Most Diploma students study full-time as a residential or non-residential student and the course runs for 30 teaching weeks, from the end of September to the end of May. The dates can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

Date for the current and next years Access to HE Diploma

What are the entry requirements?

There are no formal entry requirements for the Diploma. However, students need to demonstrate a serious commitment and mature approach to learning and study. The college looks for evidence of commitment to learning and of being an active citizen, for example, running a home, raising children, past and present working life, community involvement, trade union activity, voluntary work etc. Students are selected through application form and interview. If you apply, you will be invited to a Diploma Taster Day and interview to see if the course is suitable for you.

What will I get out of it?

Most students, who enrol onto the Access to Higher Education Diploma, wish to make a positive change in their lives, develop their personal potential and increase their opportunities in employment or to study at a higher level. Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds; many of whom left school with no formal qualifications and/or had a fairly negative experience of learning. Others have developed career and/or educational aims later on in life (often after having children) and some have wanted to change their career path after working in a particular sector.

The majority of students who gain the Access to Higher Education Diploma use it to enter higher or further education, with the aim of obtaining a degree or professional/vocational training. Others may return to their previous employers or other types of employment and use their qualification as a way of enhancing the contribution they make to voluntary organisations, community groups, their workplaces, trade unions or through activities in local government.

Former students who acquire degrees and other professional qualifications have followed a wide range of career paths. These have included: social and community work, teaching and lecturing, the legal profession, nursing and caring professions, public and private sector management, full-time trade union work, writing and the arts, the civil service and setting up a business.

What subjects will I study?

All students follow a common programme for the first few weeks called 'Learning for Life' programme. The aim of this programme is to give students the under-pinning academic skills required for the programme. The Learning for Life module provides an introduction to learning and includes: developing writing skills for study, using information technology and understanding key issues for adult learners about our changing world. Students will work on developing skills in researching information, using a computer, essay writing, understanding numbers and working in groups. This element of the course is compulsory for full-time students. After this, students then choose from a broad range of subjects related to their chosen pathway.

Curriculum pathways

Students then choose to focus on a particular curriculum pathway which leads to a named Diploma. Current pathways include Computing, Social Sciences and Humanities.

For all of the above pathways, students may also choose some modules from a range of options. The Access to Higher Education Diploma qualification will enable students to progress to a wide range of higher education or employment options.

Accreditation and Assessment

The Diploma is awarded primarily on the basis of written assignments completed during the course of study and is validated by Certa; a national Awarding Organisation committed to providing a high quality and responsive accreditation for students.

Student Support

At Northern College, the quality of student support is renowned and is recognised as contributing to the educational and personal success of many learners. The Student Services team can offer advice and support on a wide range of issues to potential, existing or ex-students. If you are considering studying at Northern College and wish to discuss any issues or problems that you think you might need support with, please contact the Student Services team for an informal chat.

Will I get any financial support to help me study?

If you are aged 19-23 and do not already hold a full level 3 qualification the course fee will be waived. If you are aged 24 or over you can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan, to pay your course fees. It's easy to apply, and the College will help you with this. If you are offered a place on the Diploma course you may qualify for some financial support to help you to study, this will depend on your individual circumstances.


For more information please see one of the following:

Northern College
Wentworth Castle
Stainborough Barnsley
South Yorkshire S75 3ET
tel : 01226 776000
fax : 01226 776025
How to find us
courses :
courses at northern dot ac dot uk
conferences :
business at northern dot ac dot uk
blue line
Follow us on twiiter The learner Panel Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme Logo
c2e Logo Matrix Logo Access to HE Certification green environment Logo Blue and yellow EU Logo

The Northern College for Residential Adult Education Ltd is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 1339524.
Registered charity number 507245 - VAT Registration No: 183234078
Registered office: The Northern College, Wentworth Castle, Stainborough, Barnsley, S75 3ET
Northern College is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Data Protection Notice