Access Course

Access to Higher Education Diploma: Education

Course details

Study options

Full-time: 36 weeks

Course level


Start date



Derby Campus

Diplomas are offered to mature students over the age of nineteen. The intention of the course is that students will achieve a place on an undergraduate degree. This is a one-year Level 3 course taught over thirty-six weeks that prepares students for the rigours of level 4 study and beyond.

Most students do not have relevant Level 3 qualifications such as A-Levels or BTECs, so our Access course (which is regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency) gives students a ‘second chance’. We fully understand that many individuals who are returning to study after a length of time, may be low in academic confidence, but we have an enthusiastic and dedicated team to make sure that our students have the tools to successfully complete the course.

This gives students an excellent foundation in the knowledge and skills that successful applicants will need to pass the Access course. Most Access courses are taught in a college, but students can study with us in a university setting. 

Please check our entry requirements to see if you meet the criteria to start with us in September. If you are lacking in level 2 qualifications, we also offer a Pre Access course. This allows students to prepare for the Access course by taking English and Maths qualifications alongside other modules to give you an insight to Level 3 study.

Book your place at our next Access information event

90%of Access Diploma graduates are employed or in further study 6 months after graduationQuality Assurance Assessment (2021)

What you will study

The teaching diploma is primarily designed to gain both a theoretical and practical insight into the nature of teaching and learning within education settings. The diploma aims to introduce education and the notion of ‘pedagogy’ through units that address areas from the structure of planning and components to creating a lesson and teaching within a classroom environment.

Each subsequent unit continues to examine the intricacies and mechanics surrounding both teaching and learning in response to leading theoretical, research and pragmatic perspectives. Challenges and barriers within education are also explored throughout the course, and critical discussions will take place that consider the individual needs of learners and methods of supporting individuals in a learning environment. 

You will gain an introduction to the study of education, with a focus on teaching and delivering provision that enables you to focus your studies on a chosen area of interest such as Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Primary, Secondary, Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) or Further Education through assessments and scheduled teaching hours.

The Teaching diploma is split into three core subjects:

This will serve as your ‘main’ subject which fundamentally considers frameworks and strategies used to inform teaching. The assessments and scheduled units within the subject address front-line delivery, planning and assessment with a focus on the teacher as a professional. Sessions will also integrate practices around Study Skills for studying at a Higher Education level; essay writing, research skills, presentations, referencing are some of the competencies that will be integrated within sessions to support your studies.

Module details

Classroom activities

This is an introductory unit which outlines the mechanics behind lesson planning, creating resources for learning and delivering a session. The unit focuses on examining the introductory knowledge and skills required to produce a micro-teach which will be presented to peers on a subject/topic of your choice (for 15-minutes). The unit is very much supported by the tutor and scaffolded to develop or build upon your starting points from any teaching experience.

The teaching experience

The second unit moves beyond lesson planning and develops an insight into the roles and components a teacher embodies in practice. This includes investigating key legislation behind the responsibilities a teacher holds, behaviour management and setting expectations, teaching methods and theory as well as assessment strategies. The unit works to investigate a case study where you will create a training session for a Newly Qualified Teacher and deliver this to the tutor utilising theory and research; a report is then created to support the information.

Education including SEN

The third unit examines the concept of inclusion and education for all. The notion of equality, equity and differentiation will be interrogated to explore how a teacher can support the range of needs often present in a learning environment. The sessions question models of disability and the understanding of inclusion alongside how provision can incorporate learners into mainstream education to secure outcomes from legislation, supportive infrastructures such as Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and other mechanisms the school/learning environment should provide. The assessment is a discursive essay which allows you to choose one area of need to investigate these ideas in relation to inclusion.


The fourth unit adopts an evidence-based approach to exploring how information is accessed, stored and encoded for learners. This unit provides the opportunity to tackle leading evidence-based research and its presence in the classroom. The unit will encourage linking theory into practice, for example, an awareness of cognitive overload and how to use interpolated testing, and how psychological techniques can be investigated (and evaluated) as a source of information that might shape teaching practice. The assessment for this module will be an academic poster to discuss the applications and evaluation of key models of memory.

Multi-agency working

The fifth unit examines different roles within a learning environment that work alongside the teacher and learners in a setting. This includes examining the roles and responsibilities of key practitioners such as special education needs co-ordinators (SENCO), educational psychologists, social services and medical practitioners. The unit will evaluate the complex nature of a multi-agency approach within education and how analysis can question the extent to which contributions in a multi-agency team can meet the needs of children and young people in education. You will choose one context for your assessment and produce a short report from a case study that evaluates roles and the multi-agency team in an education setting.

Planning and delivering a micro-teach

This final unit will revisit ideas addressed throughout the year, such as planning, differentiation, assessment and delivery, with reflection models and a final assessment that assesses all the key ideas, theories, research and techniques reviewed across the year. You will produce a micro-teach that is formed from a lesson plan, written justification, a short teaching session (led by you), and a written reflection. This four-part assessment will be reviewing all of the ideas seen across the year, and you will demonstrate your progress and autonomy in completing the year.

This subject examines the theoretical underpinnings of teaching and learning. A range of learning theories complement insights drawn from the psychological and sociological fields that inform education and our understanding of learning. This also investigates areas from practises around the world and the systems of governance/regulation for education settings.

Module details

Research methods in Psychology

This is an introductory unit that explores how educational frameworks are underpinned by key ideas in psychology. This requires you to explore some of the famous (and infamous) studies in psychology to challenge how research is formed and then applied in a given setting.

Early Social Development

The second unit explores key developmental theories and stages of a child's development. This is focused predominantly on concepts and research that can be used to understand milestones and the child as a learner holistically. You will investigate key ideas and examine how the growth of physical and cognitive stages in a child's formative years is integral to education provision. The assignment for this unit is an essay that requires you to demonstrate critical theories on child development in a practical setting of your choice.

Learning theories and theorists

The third unit takes theories and ideas that have formed the axis of understanding in education and teaching practice. Pedagogy is informed by the work of theories and this unit will visit these key theories, and their contributors, to reflect on how their work has informed education practice as well as teaching, learning and assessment. Each session will examine the key areas and theories that can be applied to educational settings. The unit will be assessed through the creation of an academic poster and presentation of that poster, you will apply the ideas explored to an area of your interest in education.

Comparative Education

The fourth unit explores education around the world. Education is a product of both national and international influences, and this unit will introduce you to the complexity of international measurements, organisations and education systems that influence education, even in the UK and in England. You will select a country of interest and become a specialist in understanding their education system and its place in the global market of education. The assessment will require you to create a short podcast recording that explains the system, challenges, and similarities/differences to education that you have experienced in your life.

Teaching and Learning English

The fifth unit explores how learners might struggle with accessing education through language. This unit is designed with a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) /Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) focus where the difficulties of English can create barriers for learners; the unit will explore strategies and techniques that might help address teaching English to learners. The assessment will require you to present ideas to a given case study to inform a practitioner's teaching methods and understanding of learners who may see English Language as a barrier to accessing education.

Planning a teaching session

The final unit will review key content in relation to delivering a teaching session. This will utilise many of the theories and evidence you have already explored within the course, but with new additional content to refine and further challenge your ability to plan, and deliver, a teaching session to a group of peers. The assessment for this unit is to create a lesson plan, resource and deliver a session taken from a given National Curriculum. You will be able to choose and construct this in your own way, and the support given will shape your autonomy with approaching teaching a group of learners

This subject seeks to broaden your knowledge by looking at education from a wide variety of perspectives: philosophical, sociological and linguistic. Through discussion and debate, you will gain an understanding of the ideas and assumptions that shape the educational landscape. 

Each subject runs throughout the entire academic year; you will attend three on-campus classes a week. The sessions are designed to last roughly three hours with interaction and activities that introduce you to a range of teaching and learning strategies. A variety of assessments will also feature across the subjects to measure learning and prepare you for further study. The subjects are organised so that knowledge and skills are transferable and reinforced across the year.

Module details

Introduction to Philosophy

Philosophy is the most fundamental of all academic subjects and is one of the core disciplines within the field of education studies. In this introductory unit, you will gain an overview of philosophy, as well as exploring some key philosophical concepts and their relevance to education.

Sociology of Education

Sociology is another core discipline in the field of education studies. It asks questions such as, ‘Why do we have education and who benefits from it?’, and ‘How is education affected by class and inequality?’.  In this unit, you will examine the role and purpose of education in society.

Agencies of Social Control

Agencies of social control, such as the police and criminal justice system, seek to regulate the behaviour of individuals within society. What part do schools and other educational institutions play in keeping people under control? This important topic is discussed in relation to various sociological perspectives.

Language Acquisition: The Development of Speech

How do human beings acquire language and the ability to communicate through speech? How might early experiences affect this? This unit explores various theoretical approaches to these questions.

Language Acquisition: The Development of Literacy

Is literacy a fundamental human capacity, or a technology that we have developed? How do individuals acquire this ability? This unit will look at explanations for the ways in which human beings learn to read and write.

Study skills provides you with some essential skills necessary to complete your Access Diploma and progress onto undergraduate study and is regarded as increasingly important by degree programme admissions tutors. Study skills is comprised of two units: Progression Skills and English for Academic Study. In your study skills lessons, we aim to provide you with a range of new skills or to give you the opportunity to develop existing skills.

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

A diverse range of teaching and learning activities are used across each subject. Sessions are interactive and work to include student participation and student-led tasks. You will learn differently in each taught session; some sessions utilise group-work, others will focus on independent research and investigation. Scheduled teaching hours are led by your tutor who designs the learning accordingly to the group profile and therefore you will be exposed to a vast range of practises – this also helps demonstrate the techniques/strategies reviewed within the ITE subject.

Wider enrichment takes place to supplement learning across the academic year. There are opportunities where guest speakers attend to deliver short talks from settings. You will also have access to the University of Derby’s library and on-site facilities for Further Education students.

How you are assessed

You will be assessed through a range of different assessments that include essay writing, presentations, writing and academic posters. Assessments are explained within each unit and support is offered to scaffold your progress throughout the course. These are all designed to apply the knowledge, skills and behaviours from sessions (and wider reading/experiences) into areas of interest within education.

Entry requirements

You will need to be 19 years of age or above on 31 August 2024.

You will need GCSE A-C/9-4 English and ideally Science will be required to study on this Diploma, if you have GCSE Maths D/3 or Functional Skills 2 Maths you can retake GCSE Maths alongside the course. 

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.

If you're interested in this course you'll need to attend an Information Event.

At the event, you’ll be able to find out everything about the course, find out about fees and finance and get careers advice.


Studying an Education or Teaching degree can allow you to pursue a range of related careers, such as:

It is a popular route for graduates who do not pursue a course with in-built Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to then complete a QTS or equivalent postgraduate qualification for roles that require this after completing an undergraduate degree.

An Access to Higher Education course will prepare you to pursue a degree related to Education in many fields, from Primary Teaching (with QTS) to Education Studies. Our Information and Progression Officer can assist students with applications and the UCAS process. Careers Guidance is also available for students on the course.

Find out more about our careers service

Contact us

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If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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