Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education Diploma and GCSE

Hartsdown Academy

Study for a valuable stand-alone qualification, as your first step towards a degree, or just for interest.

What can I study

shelf of books

English Literature

Tuesdays 6-9pm (September - June)

What's the difference between a good book and a great book? Why do some books stand the test of time while others are consigned to the dustbin of history? How do great writers make you love or hate their characters?

This course in English literature can help you to answer these questions, teach you how to get the most out of your reading and give you the skills to write and talk about books. English literature is a subject of opinions so classes will be interactive and based around discussion.

Strong opinions and controversial views welcome!

man standing in crowd


Tuesdays 6-9pm (September - June)

Do you create the society that you live in or does society create you as an individual? Do the media reflect current thinking or merely shape the way in which we think?

Come and explore how you as an individual interact with the society that you live in through culture, religion, the media, education and the family, and examine how the power of groups can bring about change throughout the world.

Join the debates on youth culture, crime and deviance, criminal justice and law, and investigate how social class and government policy can ultimately shape the way in which we live.

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Creative Writing: The secrets of a great story; supercharge your writing

Wednesdays 6-9pm (September - June)

Release your inner storyteller. Travel to worlds of your own creating. Express feelings and explore ideas. Study Creative Writing. You will read and write a wide range of stories, poems, children's books, plays and articles, try out new styles and discover the secrets of great writing. 

From the start you will learn how to be creative, encourage your imagination and grow your confidence. Discover and indulge a love of words and language, while building valuable communication skills which you can use in other subjects. You will express your opinions, explore why you like to read what you do, and be introduced to the ideas behind writing.

This course is taught through informal workshops, practical exercises, discussions, and individual projects which provide a clear framework to support your development as a writer.

female student


Thursdays 6-9pm (September - June)

Psychology is all about you. Learn more about the way people behave. Find out about the way children develop and form attachments. Understand criminal behaviour and the way a jury works. Look at the impact of social influence on people: why do people conform and why do some resist authority? Study theories about psychopathy and understand different options for treatment.

This fascinating course enables you to develop your knowledge of psychology, skills such as investigation and research, and how to analyse and present results.

GCSE qualifications

Many university courses expect applicants to have good grades in GCSEs English and/or Maths, so we run GCSE classes to help you to meet university entrance requirements. These qualifications are distinct from the Access to Higher Education Diploma and require a separate application.

mature male student

Mathematics GCSE

Wednesdays 6-9pm (September - June)

Get your Maths GCSE. Come and learn in a supportive and informal environment with an experienced tutor who can show you how maths can be fun and accessible by relating to your everyday life.

The GCSE is organised by the Academy and the fee of £65* is payable in addition to the Access Diploma fee.

mature female student

English GCSE

Thursdays 6-9pm (September - June)

Join a friendly group of adult students and build your English language skills in a supportive environment. Develop your ability to write both creative and non-fiction texts, and to read and understand them. You also learn how to enhance your speaking and listening skills.

This course leads to a nationally recognised qualification that can help open doors to further opportunities in education and employment.

The GCSE is organised by the Academy and the fee of £65* is payable in addition to the Access Diploma fee.

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Is Access right for me?

To view subtitles for these videos, please watch in full screen mode.

After being made redundant, Beverley decided she wanted to challenge herself in a new way.  



After leaving school with no qualifications, Kate enrolled on an Access Diploma and went on to a Master's Degree.



Mary never thought she'd go to university, but the Access Diploma enabled her to do so.



Not having the qualifications to go to university, Muyunda found the Access Diploma was an excellent stepping stone.



Feeling unsatisfied in his job, Tom decided to do something about it and signed up to the Access Diploma.

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What is the Access to Higher Education Diploma?

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is designed for adults and focuses on coursework rather than exams. Helpful tutors, inspiring sessions and regular guidance are designed to help you reach your full potential.

What does it include?

You can study a range of subjects, including Psychology, Sociology, Creative Writing and English literature. You also gain skills in research, essay-writing and presentations.

How long does it take to complete?

The Diploma is a part-time course. You are required to take at least three subject modules spread over two years to complete the qualification. In exceptional circumstances, following discussion with the programme manager, you may be able to 'fast-track' and complete all three subjects in one year. All subjects run from September to July and have breaks in line with Hartsdown Academy holidays.

What can I do when I’ve got my Diploma?

You will have a qualification that enables you to apply to university to study subjects such as social sciences, criminal justice studies, law, social work, art or English. In addition, you will have developed skills, such as giving presentations, which are useful for a range of different career opportunities.

How much does it cost?

There is a small fee for exam registration and administration. This is currently set at £130 for the two year course. Fees are subject to final confirmation but all applicants will be informed of any change before enrolment. Please note, fees are non-refundable.

I’m not sure whether I want to take a Diploma

If you’re unsure about taking the Diploma, please book your place on our taster sessions to see if the subjects are for you. For an informal conversation about the different subjects and opportunities that the diploma can give you either email or contact Jane Askew on 01227827118.

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Taster sessions

You are welcome to attend as many taster sessions as you wish. All taster sessions are free of charge. Please book your place here

mature male student

Creative Writing

The secrets of a great story; supercharge your writing.

Monday 3 June 2019, 6-7.30pm

shelf of books


Explore how you as an individual interact with the society that you live in.

Monday 10 June 2019, 6-7.30pm

shelf of books

English Literature

Explore your thoughts about literature in an informal, friendly atmosphere.

Monday 17 June 2019, 6-7.30pm

female face, focussing on eye


Learn more about behaviour, child development and criminal psychology.

Monday 24 June 2019, 6-7.30pm

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Information evenings

Come along to one of our information events held in the evenings at Hartsdown Academy to find out more about the Access Diploma, hear about students’ experience of the course and ask questions about what is expected of you.

Our information evenings will be held at Hartsdown Academy on the following dates:

  • Monday 13 May 2019, 6-8pm
  • Monday 8 July 2019, 6-8pm.
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How to apply

To apply for the Access to Higher Education Diploma and/or GCSE qualifications, please click on the relevant link to the right of this page. Please note that you will need to submit two applications if you wish to study for both the Access Diploma and GCSEs.

When we have received your application you will be sent an email outlining the next steps.

Please note that places on the course are limited and priority will be given to those with a connection to the Academy or community partners. For an informal conversation about the different subjects and opportunities that the Diploma can give you either email or contact Jane Askew on 01227 827118.

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University of Kent - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000

Last Updated: 14/03/2019