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

female student


Mondays 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.

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 plays stand the test of time while others are consigned to the dustbin of history? How do great poets help us to see the world in new and surprising ways?

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 literature. English literature is a subject of opinions so classes are interactive and based around discussion.

typewriter workings

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.

man standing in crowd


Thursdays 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.

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

Thursdays 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.

* fees subject to final confirmation but all applicants will be informed of any change before enrolment. Please note, fees are non-refundable.

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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 June 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 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 £150 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, email

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Taster sessions

Sadly, we are currently unable to run taster sessions, but we would still like to give you a flavour of the subjects that we offer on the Access programme through these online activities.

female face, focussing on eye


Have you ever wondered why teenagers do what they do? Explore the truth about the teenage brain.

shelf of books

English Literature

Discover why the poetry of Seamus Heaney is so popular and explore how Dickens created a sense of place.

mature male student

Creative Writing

Creative writing helps develop your literacy, your confidence and your imagination. Learn the art of the great first line and have a go at a Hollywood blockbuster.

shelf of books


Is all crime wrong? Does social class matter? Learn how to think about these questions from the perspective of a sociologist.

You can download these activities from our Moodle site. Click the button below to sign up.

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Find out more

For an informal conversation about the different subjects and opportunities that the Diploma can give you, please email

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How to apply

Applications are now open for September 2020.

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, email

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Last Updated: 07/08/2020