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Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing)

Grants of £5000 Available

From September 2020 students studying nursing at university will be eligible to an additional maintenance grant of £5,000 (which doesn’t need to be paid back).

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The government has pledged to provide an additional 50,000 new nurses into the NHS. This could be you!

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You can complete your Access to Higher Education Diploma in as little as 6 months, or take as long as 2 years, and fit it around your real-world commitments.

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Access to Higher Education Diploma

The Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) prepares students for an undergraduate degree in Nursing or other healthcare profession. The Diploma is designed for anyone aged 19 or over who wants to study a degree but lacks the relevant qualifications.

As you work towards your Access to HE Diploma you will cover the key areas of Human Biology as well as Psychology, Health Studies and other social aspects that impact on our health and well being.

Upon completion of your Access to HE Diploma (Nursing) you will have the fundamental knowledge you need to begin a Nursing degree at university, along with the academic writing and study skills that you will need.

A key advantage of an Access to HE Diploma is the learning centres specifically around your desired area of study. That means the Diploma is highly focused, so you’ll have the relevant and current knowledge to support your progression to university.

Getting Started

learndirect is a leading online learning college so there are no physical classes to attend. This allows you to fit your Access to HE Diploma around your work and homelife commitments.

Upon enrolment on to the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing), you will be provided with all the learning materials via our online portal. You will be provided with an Individual Learning Plan that outlines the submission deadlines for your assignments to keep you on track throughout your studies. An Access to HE Diploma can be completed within two years. However, most students complete their course within 9-12 months.

You will also receive support and guidance our team of qualified and experienced tutors throughout your course.


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 ideas and issues in responding to a set, academic writing task.
  • Be able to summarise for academic purposes, selecting key points, information or central ideas.  

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: Cell Biology  

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the structure and organisation of cells, including stem cells.
  • Understand cellular metabolism.
  • Understand how cells grow and divide.

Unit 5:  The History of the National Health Service

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the background to and the founding principles of the National Health Service.
  • Understand how political reforms have shaped the National Health Service.

Unit 6: 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 the components of a healthy diet and the consequences of an unhealthy diet.

Unit 7: The Roles & Responsibilities of the Registered Nurse

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the changes to the roles and responsibilities of the nurse.
  • Understand the role of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
  • Understand the multidisciplinary approach to healthcare.

Unit 8: Introduction to Psychology   

On completion of this unit you will:

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

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 system throughout life.
  • Understand the sequence of events from conception to childbirth.

Unit 10: Approaches to Health   

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the different definitions of health and ill health.
  • Understand different explanatory models of health and ill health.
  • Understand contrasting sociological perspectives on health.
  • Understand the different ways in which people respond to illness.

Unit 11: The Human Muscular and Skeletal Systems

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the anatomy, organisation and function of the muscular system. 
  • Understand the anatomy, organisation and function of the skeletal system. 
  • Understand how the muscular system and skeletal system interact in locomotion.

Unit 12:  Social Factors in Health and Social Care

On completion of this unit 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 healthcare and maintenance.

Unit 13: The Brain & Nervous System (Psychology)   

On completion of this unit you will:

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

Unit 14: The Human Endocrine and Nervous System 

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the anatomy, organisation and function of the nervous system. 
  • Understand how the endocrine system co-ordinates body functions. 
  • Understand the role of the nervous and endocrine systems homeostasis.  

Unit 15: Inequalities in Health and Illness

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the importance of social, economic and environmental changes on the nature of morbidity and mortality in the UK.
  • Understand the relationship between theories of health and welfare inequalities and health policies.

Unit 16: Human Immunity

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand non-specific defences against disease. 
  • Understand specific immunity. 
  • Understand the biology of vaccination  

Unit 17: Poverty and Health

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand approaches to poverty and health.
  • Understand approaches to the social distribution of health chances.

Unit 18: Human Disease and Prevention   

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand the categories and causes of disease using infectious disease to illustrate your answer 
  • Understand the epidemiology of commonly occurring diseases/conditions 
  • Understand preventative measures for a chosen disease or condition   

Unit 19: Equality and Diversity within Healthcare   

On completion of this unit you will:

  • Understand equality and diversity within healthcare.
  • Understand the rights of the individual in a healthcare setting.
  • Understand the impact of equality and diversity legislation for healthcare provision.

If you choose to start an Access to Higher Education Diploma, you will need a GCSE Grade A-C in maths and English (or Functional Skills Level 2 or new GCSE Grade 4-9) with a desire to continue on to study a related degree at university. If you do not hold these qualifications then you must be working towards them whilst completing your Access to HE Diploma.

Our Access to Higher Education Diplomas fulfil entry criteria for a broad range of university degrees and can be used in conjunction with the standard UCAS application process. In short, Access to HE Diplomas have a track record of helping learners get to the university and degree of their choice. Learners must bear in mind each university has their own set of admission criteria and places are subject to demand. Varying admission criteria can include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Number of credits to be attained at merit or distinction level.
  2. Successfully passing a face-to-face interview at the University.
  3. Passing a University’s proprietary literacy and numeracy assessments.
  4. Completion of specified work placements or work experience.
  5. GCSE Grade A – C in maths and English (or equivalent Level 2 such as Functional Skills).

Learners must undertake their own research to ensure their Diploma gives them the best possible chance of gaining entry to their university of choice. It is not possible for learndirect to accept any liability if any Access to Higher Education Diploma student fails to secure an offer from a higher education institution.


A range of units make up this qualification, with an assignment at the end of each. You will submit your work to your tutor for marking and tailored feedback. You must acquire 60 credits in total in order to achieve the Access to HE Diploma (Nursing). Of these credits, 45 will be taken from graded units which focus on the academic subject areas included in the course. The remaining 15 come from ungraded units included to help you to improve your academic writing and study skills.

As part of your programme you will also receive help as well as guidance on your university application and the research you need to do to get the most out of your diploma.



On successful completion of the Open College Network West Midlands Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) you will receive a QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma at level 3 (QAA ref: 40006657). This course has been assigned 60 credits.

Open College Network West Midlands are 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. They also Quality Endorse organisations internal training and skills delivery.

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Here’s What Our Learners Say

Frequently Asked Questions

There is a huge range of benefits to studying via distance education:


We believe distance education is all about convenience and flexibility. You can plan your study around your work or lifestyle commitments, so you’re only studying at times convenient for you.

Plus, you can improve your education without having to attend classes at a physical location. What’s more, with learndirect, you can study when and where you like without the stress of deadlines or time limits and complete your course at your own pace.


We don’t have the same level of high overhead costs (e.g. classrooms and large campuses) as traditional schools, colleges or universities, so we’re able to pass on these savings to you by reducing our course fees.


We offer over 650 home study courses for you to choose from, with an unrivalled selection of quality distance education courses accredited by some of the most respected awarding bodies in the UK.


You have access to a dedicated tutor who is an experienced professional in their field of study. Your tutor is totally committed to helping you succeed and is on hand to answer any questions you may have, no matter how big or small.

All of your course material is available 24/7, 365 days per year through our world-class learning platform you choose when and where you study!

Yes, all of our courses will come with a certificate once you have completed your training. This certificate will have your name on it, and the title of the training you have completed.

Each course is different, and each has its own time frame, but all of our courses are flexible so you can study in a way the fits you. All of our courses come with an Individual Learner Plan, this will help guide you and keep you on track for success.

Yes, built into your account is a messaging service, where you can send messages between you and your tutor, you can ask questions or talk about your work. You can also message other helpful contacts, like our Student Support Team.

All of our qualifications have different awarding bodies, and depending on the subject, they will meet different criteria depending on the level of the qualification and its content.

We typically use the OFQUAL register to help us benchmark our courses and ensure the education you receive is up to the relevant industry standards. If you would like to check a specific qualification, please contact one of our helpful advisers by calling 01202 006 464.

We have several options including 0% payment options, and options with very small deposits. Each course has different options, if you would like to discuss these options or a quote for a course, you can reach a member of the team by calling 01202 006 464.

Yes, if you are thinking of going to study a degree with a University here in the UK, an Access to Higher education Diploma is a fantastic way to prepare. We will not only help you complete your Diploma, but we can support you on your way to university with Academic References and even our very helpful UCAS handbook.

If you make a mistake or get something wrong, there is no need to worry. Many of our courses allow you to retake units that may not have gone to plan. You will receive full support and guidance from your tutor before reworking a unit and submitting again, and you can do this without any additional cost.

You will receive 60 credits in total, this is made up of 15 level 3 credits, and 45 level 4 credits. Credits can be subject specific to help evidence your learning on the course to a university you are approaching.

As soon as you submit a piece of work your tutor is notified. This allows us to identify that you have work which requires their attention. While your tutor is marking your work you can move on to the next unit or section of your course so there are never any delays in your learning. Typically, with most of our courses, marking work takes less than 5 days depending on the size of the submitted item.

No, the price agreed when you start your course is all you pay. We ensure there are no hidden or additional unnecessary fees for your education.

Many of our courses include one or more of the following hands on aspects to enhance the online learning you will receive.

Many of our RQF courses include a placement, these placements are fantastic opportunities for you to secure a work experience placement in a relevant industry and get real on the job experience while you learn. For example many of our Teaching Assistant courses give you an opportunity to approach and work within a local school.

Time in our state of the art academy's for certain subjects, for example our Foot Health Practitioner courses run multiple hands on class based options in our bespoke learning environments.

Further to this some of our courses include practical kits for you to use while you study and even keep after the course! For example many of our Nail Technician courses include an extensive kit included with the course at no additional charge.

Unlike traditional schools, colleges or universities there are no terms, semesters, or specified intake dates for our uniquely flexible distance education courses. Our system of continuous enrolment means that our students can enrol on any day and at any time of the year. This allows our students the freedom to plan their studies to fit in with their lifestyle or work commitments.

You can enrol easily and quickly by clicking on the ‘Enrol Now’ button on your preferred course’s page on our website. Simply complete the secure online registration form and we will do the rest. If you’d prefer to call us to enrol, please call 01202 006 464.

Our world-class learning platform is easy to use and presented in a simple to understand format. Once you’ve logged on you’ll be able to see your course, your content and how to complete your assignments. Everything you need is available through your personal learner portal.