Access to HE Diploma - Humanities
This course is for people aged 19 or over
Faculty of Humanities
Level Location Start Date End Date Day Time Fee Reduced Ask Apply
Level 3 Hele Road September 2018 July 2019 3 days per week - TBC Generally from 9am-3pm See below* See below

What is it like to study this course and how will I be assessed?

The Access course has been designed for those adults who feel they missed out on higher education when they were younger.  The programme aims to provide a firm foundation for study at degree level.  Study skills and educational guidance form essential parts of the course.

Tutorial sessions support learners and offer guidance with the UCAS process and study skills.

The Diploma is taught by subject specialist teaching staff in a supportive environment to develop the academic skills necessary to progress onto higher education. You will have homework and assignment work set each week with strict deadlines. There is at least 15-20 hours of additional study at home each week. Additional support is available for students for particular difficulties/needs.

There is also:

  • a Learning Support team
  • Learning Centres
  • Well being team (Counsellors)
  • a Learner Support Fund (apply through college)

*2017/2018 fees for Access to Higher Education courses are dependent on your age, circumstances and chosen course. Click here to view more information about fees This course is eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan, which may be written off when you complete your studies in to higher education at college or university. For more information click here.

You may be entitled to support towards the fee, please phone Jill Clark on 01392 400526 or email for advice.

What topics will I study?

Learners study two of the following at Level 3 (A Level standard) in order to achieve an Access to HE Diploma in either Humanities or Social Sciences.

  • Literary studies
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • History

Examples of units you may study on these Diplomas:

  • Atypical Psychology - Diagnosis and Classification: This unit looks at how we define both normality and abnormality. We discuss key research into the reliability of such diagnoses and the current classification systems used by clinicians.
  • Cognitive Psychology: In this unit students can choose whether to study theory & research into the models of memory or into using eye witnesses in court proceedings. This involves self-directed study after a lead lecture on the topic.
  • Crime and Deviance: Which social groups are more likely to commit crime? Here we will examine a range of sociological explanations as to why people commit crime.
  • Education - Policy and Provision: This involves an exploration of educational policy over the past 80 years. Recurrent throughout, will be a consideration of whether education enables equal opportunities.
  • Gender: This will investigate gender inequalities and a range of biological and sociological attempts to understand them.
  • Historical Change: Unit 6 examines the role of political and cultural change in post-war Britain (1945-63). Students will gain further understanding of this dynamic period in modern history, and will analyse the governments of Clement Attlee, Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan. Uses of economic, foreign, social and political factors in extended essay writing will be covered.
  • History: Independent Research Project: Each student studies one ‘Independent research project’ unit. If you choose to do yours in history, this is an opportunity to independently read around a subject that particular interests you and write a structured extended essay in that area. This is also used in the Study Skills Academic Writing Skills unit.
  • Education - Inequalities and Achievement: An exploration of which social groups underachieve in education and why. Central to this, is an engagement in the issue of social class, gender and ethnicity.
  • Research Methods in Psychology: The aims of this set of lecturers are to explore the experimental & non-experimental methods of collecting data in psychological research, how to write a hypothesis, design a study, sample participants and analyse results. This will involve carrying out a small scale practical research project.
  • Social Psychology: Our final unit of the academic year explores the psychological theories explaining why people hold prejudice beliefs. This unit is used as the basis for the exam unit in Study Skills.
  • Creative Writing: Students produce work in a range of genres (prose, poetry and dialogue) before choosing one extended piece to develop. They will be analysing different texts with a view to improving their own writing style and creativity. The students are also helped to evaluate their own work and produce a critical commentary of their final piece of work.  
  • Literary Studies - Independent Research Project: Each student studies one ‘Independent research project’ unit. If you choose to do yours in Literary Studies, this is an opportunity to independently read around a subject that particular interests you and write a structured extended essay in that area. This is also used in the Study Skills Academic Writing Skills unit. You can choose a novel, play, collection of poems, a specific writer, a genre or a literary movement etc.
  • Study of Dramatic Texts: We look at dramatic devices and ways of engaging the audience. The main play studied is Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge and this leads to a consideration of the central themes of the play (immigration, the American dream, McCarthyism, the law and justice etc). Additionally we look at character presentation, dialogue, stage directions and plot.    
  • Study of Poetry: Used as an introductory unit. We look at the work of John Clare, his use of language and poetic form to describe his surroundings, the natural world and his emotions and state of mind. Students develop close reading and analytical skills as well as looking at other critical responses to his work, specifically an ecocritical reading. We consider how historical and biographical factors feed into his writing.
  • Study of Shakespeare: The play studied is King Lear and we look the historical context within which the play was written and the issues that concerned Shakespeare. We also look at the typical features of tragedy and compare King Lear to Miller’s play in terms of the conventions that each playwright is following. We analyse the play in terms of the characters, the setting, the use of a main plot and a sub-plot and the devices used by Shakespeare to engage his audience.

Click here for full details of the modules. All students will also have Study Skills and IT classes as well as one to one tutorial support. Click here for an example timetable.

Please note, the unit information above will be subject to change, we are awaiting confirmation of the details for 2018 entry. Please keep checking our website for up to date information or contact us if you have any questions.

What are the entry requirements?

You will need GCSEs in maths and English at grade C or above. We would encourage applicants to contact the Higher Education providers that they intend to apply to ensure that the age of their GCSEs are acceptable (written confirmation is advisable). 

What we look for in a successful applicant:

  • Motivation to progress onto higher education
  • Evidence of recent study (not compulsory)
  • A letter of application that demonstrates your commitment to study, considers the reality of study, shows some idea about what subject they intend to study at university and mentions which higher education institutions you intend to apply.
  • Evidence of (GCSE A to C) in maths and English (GCSE A to C). You may be asked to take an assessment at interview
  • IELTS score of 5.5 or above for students where English is a second language

If you have been out of education for some time we would recommend a course in Maths/English. Research the entry requirements for the universities you wish to apply to. You could do voluntary / paid work where relevant.

What facilities are there?

You will have access to a Learning Centre. There is a refectory in the Hele Building and coffee shops in the Tower Building.

New for 2016 - Learning Lounge specific for Access to HE and HE students.

What can the course lead on to?

  • You may progress to university or stay at Exeter College to complete a Foundation degree
  • Typical degrees are in Humanities/Social Science based subjects, for example, Psychology, Sociology, History, Law, Journalism, Politics, History
  • Also you could go onto a vocational degree course, for example, teaching, counselling. Please be aware that a clear enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and occupational health test may be required before entry onto some vocational degree courses

Are there any additional costs?

As well as the course fees, applicants need to factor in food, travel, books and stationery and printing costs. Applications for our college Learner Support Fund or the Bursary Fund are advisable for applicants who know that they may struggle financially. There will also be UCAS fees and a college materials fee of £30.

What do our students think?

I'm impressed with the IT skills I have acquired as I knew very little before I began the course. In maths I have learned to do long division!! which makes me feel very clever. I am really impressed with the professionalism of the teachers and I really don't want the year to end."


I have enjoyed being set a variety of tasks that have stretched my skill-set, supported by patient and friendly staff and a lovely group of fellow students."


I have really enjoyed meeting all the amazing and talented people whilst on this course, both staff and students, proves there are caring, supportive and just plain fab human beings. It has restored my faith in people and faith in myself. I have my place at Exeter University guaranteed on the Flexible Combined Honours course studying Psychology (accredited) and Criminology. I have chosen this as I have a big passion for criminal profiling and the processes behind criminal behaviour. I plan on getting a job within the police force, firstly as a PCSO whilst I am studying for my degree and then in a psychological capacity."


Click here to read more student views.

It is important that you apply and pay for your course at least one week before the course starts to ensure that you will have access to all the facilities and resources in your first week.
Please be aware that there are no car parking facilities at Exeter College city centre sites, but public car parks are available across the city.

College Prospectus

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