Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) - Health and Medical Science Course Online | learndirect

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


Do you aspire to work in the healthcare sector? Are you committed to creating a happier and healthier nation? Do you wish you had the right grades and qualifications to make this happen? If the answer to these three questions is yes, then the Access to HE Diploma (Science) – Health and Medical Science Pathway could be the answer you are looking for. This distance learning qualification is a perfect choice for students who plan to progress to undergraduate study in a healthcare related subject area, but do not yet have the grades they need to gain a place.

During the course of this home study qualification, you will study topics including medical physics, optics and sound and the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition to this you will also spend an amount of your time studying additional academic practice units which have been built-in to help mature your essential study abilities. These modules are particularly useful if you’ve spent an amount of time away from the classroom.  

Check the course is right for you

We always recommend that you investigate the university and degree course you want to study next. This information will enable you to check that the Access to HE Diploma course you have chosen is the right one and will meet the required entrance criteria. If your preferred university needs more information about your course we can help you with this.

How does the course work?

All of our Access to HE Diploma courses are delivered via distance learning. Studying this way is great for busy workers, parents and carers, because students can complete all the work from the comfort of their own home. This is because all of our materials can be accessed, completed and submitted online. Another bonus is that once enrolled, our students can start their course straight away without waiting for September start dates. Working at your own speed, you can elect to finish the qualification in as little as six months, or stretch it out over 18 months, it’s up to you.




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 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.




Those who are planning to study an Access to HE Diploma should first have achieved a GCSE in maths and English at grade C or above. We ask for these grades as most universities ask that students have them before they apply.

Although Access to HE Diploma courses fulfil the entry requirements for most higher education institutions, we would like to remind learndirect students to double check with the specific university or universities they want to attend. This is because each school may have its own list of particular requirements which students are expected to meet. Examples of such requirements include but are not limited to:

  1. Having gained a specific number of credits at the level of merit or distinction.
  2. Turning up to and passing a face-to-face interview at the university.
  3. Completing a literacy or numeracy test provided by the institution.
  4. Completion of a work placement or period of work experience specified by the uni.
  5. We strongly recommend learners starting an 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 L2 NVQ qualification in a related subject.

It is important that every student carries out their own research and makes sure that their diploma fits the entry criteria of their chosen university. Learndirect will not be able to accept any liability for the inability of any Access to Higher Education Diploma student who fails to secure an offer from a higher education institution.




Each diploma contains several units containing rich, interactive study materials. At the end of each of these units, students are required to complete an assignment. Once they have completed each piece of work, learners submit it to one of our tutors, who will then mark and return it with some useful feedback and points for improvement.

In order to earn an Access to HE Diploma in science, students will need to earn 60 credits altogether. Of these credits, 45 should be earned by submitting graded units which are based on academic subject content. The other 15 credits will be drawn from ungraded units. These ungraded modules are focused on improving the student’s study techniques.





Qualification: Open College Network West Midlands Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science)

On successful completion of the Open College Network West Midlands Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) you will receive a QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma at level 3 (QAA ref: 40008848).

This course has also been assigned 60 credits.

Your Access to Higher Education Diploma and the way it is delivered within our innovative learning platform is designed to give you the best possible chance of fulfilling your dream of studying at university. Higher Education Degrees confirm to any employer your intellect, motivation and ability to work independently to succeed not just in your area of specialism but also life itself. A higher education degree is a gateway qualification that will allow you to apply 1,000's of graduate programmes as well as setting you apart from those who don't have a degree.



Need proof of your English and Maths skills? Want to catch up and learn more English and Maths? You can for free when you sign up to this learndirect course.

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