Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) - Biological Science Course Online | learndirect

Access to Higher Education Diploma (Science) - Biological Science


If you were born with an eager scientific mind and you take a unique interest in biology, the Access to HE Diploma (Science) – Biological Science Pathway may be your ticket to a shiny and profitable future. Addressing everything from cell metabolism to atomic structure, this route has been designed to supply learndirect students with the expertise they need to get to university.

Check you have chosen the right course

When you enrol on this course, you will study topics surrounding human biology, cell biology and biochemistry. On top of this you will also spend some time studying additional academic practice units which have been included to develop your fundamental study skills. These modules are particularly useful if you’ve been away from education a while.

It is important that you check that your Access to HE Diploma qualification will meet the entrance criteria for the degree course at the university of your choice. Admission criteria can vary across universities, so it’s advisable to contact your destination university and make sure you are on the right course.

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. No waiting for September start dates. Working at their own speed, learners can choose to finish their qualification in as little as six months, or stretch it out over 18 months.




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: 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 10: 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 11: 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 12: Atomic structure

On completion of this unit you will:

    • Understand protons, neutrons and electrons in terms of their relative charges and masses.
    • Understand the distribution of protons, neutrons and electrons in an atom given its Atomic number and Mass number, including some isotopes.
    • Understand the number and relative energies of the s, p and d orbitals for the principal quantum numbers and know the shapes of s, p and d orbitals.
    • Understand how ionisation energies of elements relate to reactivity.
    • Understand the position of elements within the periodic table from ionisation energy data.


Unit 13: Atomic structure and bonding

On completion of this unit you will:

    • Understand the structure of the atom.
    • Understand electronic structures.
    • Understand the formation of ionic bonds.


Unit 14: 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.
    • Understand the formation of covalent bonds.


Unit 15: Cell division & heredity

On completion of this unit you will:

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


Unit 16: Chemical change

On completion of this unit you will:

    • Know how to measure the concentrations of solutions.
    • Understand energy changes during chemical reactions.
    • Understand factors influencing rates of chemical reactions.
    • Understand the concept of chemical equilibrium.


Unit 17: Periodic table

On completion of this unit you will:

    • Understand the periodic table.
    • Understand periodicity in the elements of period 3.
    • Understand ionisation energy.
    • Understand oxidation and reduction.
    • Understand reactions of the Group 2 metals.
    • Understand the group 7 elements.


Unit 18: Chemical bonding and structure

On completion of this unit you will:

    • Understand electronic configuration using s,p,d notation.
    • Understand ionic, covalent and dative covalent bonding.
    • Understand polarisation and intermolecular forces.
    • Understand the relationship between structure and properties of molecules.
    • Understand electron pair repulsion theory.
    • Understand the nature of organic chemicals.


Unit 19: Hydrocarbons

On completion of this unit you will:

    • Understand the importance of organic compounds.
    • Understand the structure and characteristic reactions of alkanes.
    • Understand the structure and characteristic reactions of alkenes.




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 institution 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 unit of this course has been carefully selected to match the selection requirements of most universities with a science profile. To help you complete this Access to HE Diploma, but also to help you prepare for any university work and assessments that will include academic reports, or essays.

The feedback you will gain from your tutor will help you improve your knowledge and progress through your course. You will also gain the 60 credits needed to successfully complete your qualification. 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, which focus on 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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