Home » Courses » Access to Higher Education: Medicine

Access to Higher Education: Medicine

The Access to Higher Education: Medicine is a course for adults who need to gain a level 3 qualification for progression to undergraduate medicine. However, completion of this course will allow adults to progress to a wide range of health and science themed higher education courses.

Why Choose This Course?

The Access to Higher Education: Medicine course is for students 19 years or older who require a level 3 qualification to study undergraduate medicine or a related degree. You will be taught by a team of highly skilled tutors who are passionate about Access courses and providing a life changing opportunity for adults across the county. Several medical schools accept the Access course as a valid route of entry to undergraduate medicine and this course would be accepted as a valid route of entry to a wide range of other health and science themed degrees.

Learners will develop an understanding of key concepts in biology, chemistry and physics to underpin their future studies. In addition, learners will conduct extensive laboratory work and become adept at conducting practical work with precision and skill. A large emphasis is also placed on professional behaviours, study skills and IT proficiency, giving learners the tools to succeed at College and in a higher education setting.

A personal tutor will support you during your UCAS application and you will get the chance to meet like-minded people who share your passion for science. In addition, you will have the opportunity to participate in a range of medic academy workshops in preparation for the medical school interview and to gain a better insight into the profession.

Apply for this course

Start date: 31/10/2022

Course code
Level 3
Truro College
29 weeks
Access to HE


Laboratory work

UCAS support

Supportive staff

Academy Workshops

Experienced specialist tutors

You will be taught by staff with extensive experience who will advance your knowledge and skills to meet the expectations of higher education.

Well-equipped laboratories

You will conduct extensive laboratory work and become adept at conducting practical work with precision and skill.

Excellent student support

Your tutor will help you to complete your UCAS application for higher education courses and we also have a learning support team  and a student services team available for additional personal support.


The course is comprised of 60 credits at Level 3. Units are worth 3, 6 or 9 credits:

Ungraded Units:

  • HE Study Skills (Level 3, 3 credits)
  • Professional Behaviours (Level 3, 3 credits)
  • Use and Comprehension of Numerical Data (Level 3, 3 credits)
  • Patterns of Human Disease (Level 3, 6 credits)

Graded Units:

  • Introduction to Biology (Level 3, 3 credits)
  • Cell Biology and Genetics (Level 3, 6 credits)
  • Human Physiology (Level 3, 6 credits)
  • Introduction to Chemistry (Level 3, 3 credits)
  • Organic and Inorganic Chemistry (Level 3, 6 credits)
  • Physical Chemistry (Level 3, 6 credits)
  • Medical Physics (Level 3, 9 credits)
  • Research Project (Level 3, 6 credits)

Study Skills:

Study skills is taught as a discrete subject and is embedded throughout the Access course. Learners gain vital skills to prepare for study at higher education. This includes note-taking, presentation skills, essay writing, referencing and support with writing a personal statement. A large proportion of the course is assessed by traditional closed book exams, so learners are also given practical advice about planning a revision timetable, revision strategies and exam technique. Whatever your level of confidence in IT, we will help you to develop your skills in word processing, presentation software and spreadsheets. We have a large network of computers with internet access, an extensive eLibrary, a diverse range of software and a designated eLearning team to provide additional support.

Practical Skills:

Learners conduct extensive laboratory work in biology, chemistry and physics. Students learn to collect data with precision and skill, construct graphs for data analysis and evaluate a practical investigation. The diploma includes a 6 credit project unit where learners undertake an independent research project in a field they are interested in. Students plan and implement a practical and write up a full scientific report. This is valuable preparation for higher education.


The Use and Comprehension of Numerical Data unit is included to strengthen basic numeracy skills. The ability to rearrange equations and convert units with confidence will prove useful to students in both biology, chemistry and physics. In addition, some medical schools require students to sit a numeracy test at the point of interview.

Professional Behaviours:

The Professional Behaviours unit allows learners to develop an understanding of the characteristics required to be a medical practitioner, effective communication and team working skills, how to manage risk and deal effectively with problems and how to reflect on personal and professional practice and develop a personal and professional development plan.

Read More


Upon successful completion of this course, students have progressed to undergraduate medicine. However, students could progress to a wide range of health and science themed higher education courses.

Examples include biomedical science, biological and medical sciences, biochemistry, chemistry, conservation and ecology, dietetics, dental therapy and hygiene, geology, forensic science, marine biology, nutrition, optometry, paramedic science, pharmacology, pharmacy, physiotherapy, radiography and zoology.

Learners typically complete a higher education course that will allow them to enter into a specific career e.g. medicine, biomedical scientist, dietitian, radiographer or paramedic. However, some learners can study broader degree programmes and choose a career path later down the line or remain in academia to study a masters and/or PHD.

Read More


This course is credit based. Most units are three credit units and some are six credits units. Students are required to gain 60 credits in total. 45 credits must be achieved at level 3 from Academic Subject Content (ASC) units, the remaining 15 credits at level 3 come from Academic Preparation Skills (APS) units. Credits are achieved by completing coursework and in some instances timed constrained, closed book exams.

The Access to HE Diploma has a grading system. All level 3 credits gained from ASC units are awarded a pass, merit or distinction grade based on the learner’s knowledge and skills and the quality of the work. Universities usually make offers to Access students that require students to gain a certain number of credits at merit or distinction level, and will stipulate which subjects these credits must be achieved in.

The majority of the course is assessed through completion of timed, closed book examinations. Assignments will also be set throughout the course, e.g. an essay, presentation or practical report.


You must be aged 19 years or over and you will need 5 GCSEs at Grade 4 (C) or above, including English, Maths (higher tier) and Science (double or single) at Grade 6 (B). If you have a Grade 4 (C) in GCSE English and/or Maths, you may be required to retake and achieve a higher grade.

Some medical schools stipulate all GCSE grades must have been achieved in one sitting, therefore resisting GCSEs could impact consideration of your application. Please confirm the GCSE requirements directly with each medical school.

If you have completed a level 3 course (e.g. A Levels or Baccalaureates) within the last three years, your application may not be considered by some medical schools, as they may stipulate that a gap of 3 to 5 years is necessary.

If you have A Levels, medical schools may stipulate you need BBB. Applicants who have previously studied A Levels and received grades below a C will need to check whether this impacts their consideration by the medical schools.

Please be aware, the Medical School Council has advised that Access to HE Medicine courses should not be a substitute for underperforming at A Levels, particularly in science subjects. If you have underperformed in biology and/or chemistry when completing A Levels or the IB you cannot directly progress to the Access to HE Medicine course. However, if you have had a gap of 3 to 5 years since completing A Levels or IB you should contact the medical school to confirm the Access to HE Medicine qualification will be acceptable as a substitute.

If you already hold a degree, then acceptance will be dependent on degree classification. Medical schools do not usually consider applications from students with a recent degree below grade 2:1.

Applicants will be expected to provide evidence of work experience, ideally in health care, and must also be willing to undertake this alongside the Access course. There are several online work experience opportunities, more information is available on the Medical Schools Council website.

These virtual courses have been recognised by medical schools as a suitable element of relevant experience to help prepare an application to medicine.


Applicants should use the ‘Medical Schools Council’ and ‘General Medical Council’ websites to thoroughly research the profession.

NB You must consult medical schools to confirm the nature and duration of the required work experience.

If you are an overseas student with non-UK qualifications, you must ensure that these are equivalent to the UK qualifications mentioned above and you will need to provide a NARIC statement of comparability as evidence. If English is not your first language, we will require you to have an IELTS score of 6 (or equivalent) to join the course. You should also check the requirements of individual university medical schools – some require an IELTS score of 7.

Entrance Exams – you may have to complete the BMAT (https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/bmat/ ) or UKCAT (https://www.ucat.ac.uk/about-us/ ) for some medical schools. Please ensure these exams are completed before you start the Diploma. Acceptance onto the Access Medicine Diploma will be dependent on achieving a UCAT and/or BMAT score that is acceptable to medical schools.

It is an applicant’s responsibility to contact medical schools directly to ascertain the entry requirements and additional stipulations that could impact consideration.

NB applicants are expected to undergo an interview and participate in a three-day induction prior to starting the course. This helps us to assess your academic ability before we prepare your UCAS reference. During the induction you will take part in a series of biology, chemistry and physics lessons, along with a study skills and medics academy session. You will complete a closed book test for biology, chemistry and physics on the final day. Acceptance on to the Access Medicine Diploma course will be dependent on prior qualifications, performance during induction, the UCAT and /or BMAT score and receipt of a satisfactory reference.

NB completion of the Access to HE Medicine Diploma does not guarantee an invite for interview or an offer for undergraduate medicine.

Additional Information

This course duration is 30 weeks starting in September and finishing at the end of May. Taught hours are approximately 15 hours per week, plus 1.5 hours of tutor. Lectures are taught over 3 days per week. The College day typically starts at 9.15am and ends at 4.15pm.

Awarding Body: Cambridge Access Validating Agency (CAVA)

Want to talk to someone?

Do you have a question that we haven't answered so far? Talk to our admissions team. We're here Monday-Friday 8.30am-4.30pm.

Our colleges

Truro College
College Road

  • Reset
  • Result Type