Access Course

Access to Higher Education Diploma: Law and Criminology

Course details

Study options

Full-time: 36 weeks

Course level


Start date



Derby Campus

Course description

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 graduation**Quality Assurance Assessment (2021)

What you will study

Understanding Actus Reus and Mens Rea

This module is designed to help students understand the difference between a guilty mind (mens rea) and a guilty act (actus reus), and how they can be applied in the study of law.  This introductory unit introduces students to fundamental legal principles and general legal terminology pertaining to general civil and criminal law.

An Introduction to the Law of Tort

You may have already come across the familiar term ‘duty of care’ in daily life. During this unit, we delve into what this actually means and how it applies to you and those around you in everyday life. The law of tort is relatable and interesting for all as it applies to everyone. In this unit, we will also see how seemingly obvious outcomes do not come to fruition, such as lawsuits falling through even when the victim is innocent and arguably deserves justice or compensation.

Employment Law

This unit covers fundamental principles of employer and employee law and the legal requirements of employment contracts. Part of the unit covers legislation and case law on the application of equal opportunities, providing an ideal opportunity to focus on British values of respect and tolerance.

Introduction to Contract Law

This unit builds knowledge of fundamental principles of contract law. It develops understanding and use of legal terminology specifically related to a range of legally binding contracts. The unit includes focus on elements and terms of legally binding agreements and covers remedies for frustrated or breached contracts.  

The Judicial System

Clarifying the structure and jurisdiction of courts, this unit also covers the roles of contributors to the civil and criminal justice systems, i.e., the roles of other staff in addition to professional legal personnel. The unit builds on the previous units’ coverage of case law to study appeal grounds in greater depth, i.e., who can appeal a court’s decision? Where does the appeal go to? What grounds are needed for an appeal application? This unit provides ideal opportunities to focus on values of democracy, the rule of law, and individual liberty.

Perspectives in Psychology

This introductory unit looks at theories surrounding criminal behaviour, often referred to as the ‘nature/nurture’ debate. We examine biological theories (are some people born to commit crime, or does trauma to the body contribute?), psychological theories and social/environmental theories (family background, class, culture, race, experiences). We want to know your opinion on these and will discuss a range of studies and cases to contextualise debate.

Forensic Science

Advances in science and technology have led to forensic science and evidence having ever-increasing roles in solving crimes. Not only are recent crimes investigated, but more ‘cold cases’ are now being re-investigated as investigators are provided with new developments and knowledge. Crime scenes are also analysed, including practices to avoid contamination of evidence.

Developments in Criminology

This unit examines how developments in other fields have affected criminology practices. This includes perception and treatment of victims of crime, use of offender profiling, and sentencing considerations.

Police Powers

What or who provides the police with the powers they have? What are the different roles within police forces? Who handles complaints against the police? Who governs the police? These topics, and others, will be discussed, as will a range of cases involving police operations and practices.

Research Methods

This introductory unit is the groundwork for psychology. You will learn the various methods into how psychologists’ study human behaviour, such as the traditional laboratory experiment, the discreet observations, and case studies on usual situations that may last a lifetime. Further, you will learn key terminology that will be revisited and built upon throughout the academic year.

Treatments and Therapies

You will gain an insight into the numerous treatments available for various mental health disorders, from cognitive behavioural therapy to surgery. This unit requires you to choose a mental health disorder of your choice, where you discuss the various treatments and therapies available, thus giving an opportunity for you to delve further into mental health disorders that may have previously piqued your interest.

Key Studies in Psychology 

Here you delve into six key psychology studies, building on the initial research methods unit by delving into key laboratory experiments, observations, and case studies. This unit heavily encourages debate each week as part of preliminary discussions and the ethical considerations that may or may not have been adhered to during each study.

The Psychology of Criminal Investigation

This unit is a key mix between psychology and law. Here we delve into how psychology can affect the legal processes, such as how memory can be affected whilst witnessing a crime, how police questioning tactics can cause us to remember the crime differently, and how the police use psychological studies of criminal human behaviour to create offender profiles which help to narrow down suspects. Further, we will consider how characteristics of a defendant may influence jury behaviour and decision making. Naturally, this again will encourage interesting debate.

Conformity and Obedience

This unit delves into the surprising strong nature of humans naturally wanting to conform and obey. We will see how this strong desire can have extremely dangerous consequences, which may even result in some of us becoming something we would never expect predict.

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 subjects.

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’ll need to be over 19 years of age. You will have achieved and can provide evidence of GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C/4 or above or Functional Skills Level 2 in English and Mathematics.

Fees and funding


There are two types of financial support you may require for this course.

Tuition fees

The cost of the course will be between £3,000 and £4,000 depending on the Diploma.

If you are aged over 18 years of age on the first day of the academic year, whether you will have to pay for the cost of your course or not depends on criteria such as age, eligibility for discounts, and whether you live in the UK, European Union (EU) or overseas.

When you have enrolled, our Fees Team will check if you and your course are eligible for any fee remission or discounts (not to be mistaken with the Further Education Bursary Funds), or whether you will need to personally finance the course.

Further information on tuition fees

Bursary funding

A means tested Bursary may be available to learners on this course to help with Transport costs, Childcare, Equipment, Kit, Uniform, Books, Professional memberships etc.

Further information about bursary funding

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.


Some of the following career options require completion of a Law Degree (LLB) and possibly some further study, such as Legal Practice Course (LPC) exams:

According to Prospects 'starting salaries for newly qualified solicitors in a regional firm or smaller commercial practice are around £27,000 to £60,000.' And 'as a Charted Legal Executive (CILEx) student in England and Wales, you'll earn between £15,000 and £28,000.' As well as this 'a qualified barrister in private practice with around five years of experience can earn anything from around £50,000 to £200,000.'

Contact us

Course +44(0)1332 591080

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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