Access Course

Access to Higher Education Diploma: Social Work

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


To introduce students to the changing discourses between the population, welfare and politics by recognising and evaluating different theories on social policy. Students will be more aware of how social policy affects their own lives as well as others within the U.K.

The subject will be useful for those interested in social policy, social work, and sociology degrees.

Students will face different assessment types. These different methods will prepare students for their chosen degrees as exams, essays and presentations will all feature within the chosen pathway degrees. There will also be a placement required for the Professional Communication in Social Work which will allow those applying for Social Work degrees a better chance of attaining a place at the university of their choice.

Module details

Roles and Responsibilities of a Social Worker

What does a Social Worker do? What qualities, skills and values do they have? What attributes must a social worker have, and can the student recognise and identify some of those qualities such as patience, resilience and respect?

Professional Communication in Social Work

How do we communicate? How can we communicate better? Verbal and non-verbal signs (semiotics) play a significant role in interactions. Embedded within are discourses around power and agency. Systems of control are also explored and defined, and students will produce an 8–10-minute presentation describing and exploring their future roles.

The Law in Social Work Part 1

Using a workbook, the student will recognise and understand the processes of how legislation is created, how it is applied, and identify cases where the law has been challenged, such as the Cleveland Case.

The Law in Social Work Part 2

Students will work through three serious case inquiries into historical cases of abuse: Kimberley Carlile, Jasmine Beckford, and Operation Bullfinch. These cases draw questions of how legislation has largely failed to identify and protect children whilst also missing opportunities to learn valuable lessons.

Equality and Diversity in Social Work Part 1

Students work independently to identify a social issue related to the Equality Act 2010. Students produce a report intended to be a deeper evaluation of their social issue and direct the work toward a specific audience.

Equality and Diversity in Social Work Part 2

Students compare and contrast the Human Rights Act with the Equality Act 1998 and present an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the two pieces of legislation


Sociology explores the nature of society. It is one of several social sciences (including psychology, anthropology, politics, economics and law) which studies human behaviour. What makes sociology different is that it explores the importance of the relationships between members of social groups, rather than individuals themselves. There are many different social groups in existence, for example: families, schools, workplaces and peer groups. Social groups shape an individual’s thoughts, actions, personality and identity.

Module details

Sociological Theory; An Introduction

In this introductory, ungraded unit, you will gain an understanding of three very influential theories – Marxism, functionalism and feminism – and how they have tried to explain the nature and purpose of the family.

Class and Stratification

Does social class still matter in the twenty-first century? In this unit, you will explore the nature of inequality and how it affects people’s lives, for example, their level of health and educational achievement. You will continue to build on your theoretical understanding by studying the perspectives of Weber and others.

Crime and Deviance

Why do people sometimes behave in ways that society deems ‘unacceptable’? What happens when they do? In this unit, you will explore a wide range of issues, including media representations of crime, individual experiences and statistical evidence. A number of theoretical explanations will be evaluated.

Sociology of Health

What is health? Is it a biological or a social concept? What do we mean when we talk about our ‘mental health’? What place do medical professionals have in society? These are just some of the questions we discuss in this unit.


Designed for students who would like to follow careers in social work and other related professions. Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour. Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes many fields of study such as human development, sports, health, clinical, social and cognitive processes. The course content covers some topics related to different areas of developmental psychology, mental health and also some general psychological issues.

Module details

Research Methods in Psychology

This introductory unit is the groundwork for psychology. You will learn the various methods of how psychologists study human behaviour, such as the traditional laboratory experiment, the discreet observations, and case studies on a range of psychological areas of study.


This unit explores different approaches in psychology, such as cognitive, biological, and behavioural approaches. It then seeks to explain the causes of various mental disorders from those viewpoints by considering theories and research evidence.

Key Studies in Psychology

Here you delve into six key studies within the history of Psychology, all fascinating, and some rather gritty with surprising outcomes. This unit will particularly build 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 surrounding ethical considerations that may or may not have been adhered to, as well as how findings of the study relate to the real world.

Early Social Development

This unit explores the differing psychological views about social development (attachment) with particular attention being paid to the nature vs nurture debate. Theories of attachment are examined using Bowlby’s theory and Ainsworth and Bell’s research. The long-term impacts of early experiences are examined.

Treatments and Therapies

You will gain an insight into the different treatments available for various mental health disorders, from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to Psychosurgery. 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.

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 will need to be 19 years of age or above on 31 August 2024. Ideally, you will have achieved Mathematics and English GCSEs at grade A-C/9-4 or Functional Skills Level 2 in English and Maths but if you have grade D/3 or Functional Skills Level 2 in one of the subjects, you could study one GCSE alongside the Access 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.


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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