Access to HE Diploma: Enrol today and you could go to university in September 2022!

Online Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) Courses - How to become a nurse in the UK

Our online Access to Higher Education Diploma for nursing will give you the qualifications you need to start a BSc (Hons) degree in nursing at university. Once you have achieved your degree you can register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). There are four nursing specialist areas to choose from to study: adult, children, mental health, or learning disability. To gain the required level of practical skills and technical competence, your 3 year degree programme will be spent between academic work and clinical practice. This involves undertaking supervised placements within the health sector including NHS hospitals, private clinics and community settings.


What are the university entry requirements for a nursing degree?

To apply to universities for nursing, you should have, or be working towards achieving a relevant Access to HE Diploma in Health Science this is often called an Access to Nursing Course. Alternatively, you can apply with 3 A Levels with at least one in a science area. Universities can advise on their particular entry requirements and they also publish these on the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) web site. We offer an online Access to Higher Education Diploma suitable for Nursing, details of the units can be found at the end of this article (click here to jump to the units)

With the A Level route, you may also be expected to have a minimum of 5 GCSEs. With the Access to Nursing route, you are normally only required to have 2 GCSEs in English and Maths at Grade C or above.  Access to HE Diplomas are normally aimed at adults 18+ returning to education or wishing to change to a new career. There are no upper age limits. The Diploma qualification is viewed as being equivalent to 3 A Levels. Access to Nursing courses can be studied from home with Academy Online Learning via online distance learning or at a local college. Some universities accept Functional Skills English and Mathematics if you don't have the GCSE. You can study Functional Skills online with us and sit online exam at home with the exams supervised through our videoconferencing system.

There are other factors to consider whilst studying your level 3 qualification. For example, you should try to gain some work experience within a care setting. This will give you first-hand experience and enable you to find out about working within the healthcare sector and whether it really is for you. Experience also demonstrates to university admission tutors that you have a clear understanding and are committed. For more information about voluntary work or job opportunities contact your local NHS Trust or visit the NHS jobs website. 

Why should I do an online Access to Nursing Diploma course? 

There are many advantages to studying for your Access to Higher Education Diploma online instead of going to college. The Access to HE diploma is exactly the same qualification you would get if you studied Access to Nursing at a college, but with the online diploma you don't have to attend lessons at inconvenient times, you can plan your studies around your work and family commitments. With Academy Online Learning's course you still get the learning materials and support from tutors you would get at college, but with the convenience of studying from home. You can book tutorials with your tutor at convenient times and speak to them on the telephone for quick questions and use our videoconferencing system for more in-depth tutorials.

How do I choose which nursing specialism to study?

You may have a personal interest or have gained work/voluntary experience in one of the four specialist nursing specialisms, or on completion of your degree you may decide to follow a different nursing career after spending time in a particular setting. Once qualified there are also opportunities to branch out into other nursing careers within a particular area such as neo-natal nursing, district nursing or theatre nursing.


Child Nursing covers a wide range of ages starting with baby care through to adolescence. Therefore, you could work in diverse areas and will be trained to understand and respond to the specific needs of children which differ from adults.  Progression within this field includes becoming a health visitor, providing nursing support in schools, intensive care practitioner, child safeguarding and cancer care.



Adult Nursing is caring for and supporting those over 18 in a variety of settings which includes hospitals, care homes and working in the community. Progression includes cancer care, women's health, accident and emergency, critical care and GP practice nursing.




Learning Disability Nursing specialises in supporting people with learning disabilities in making a move toward more independent living to improve their life experiences. This can include working with those in supported accommodation, in hospitals or secured units where a higher level of support is required. There is also the opportunity to progress in areas such as the management of epilepsy or supporting those with sensory impairment.



Mental Health Nursing requires excellent communication skills from all those involved in the care and support of those living with mental health issues. You will be trained in how to develop plans and delivery of support for those living within the community residential centres, hospitals, at home. Mental health nurses plan and deliver care for people living at home, in small residential units or in specialist hospital services. Nurses working in this field need enhanced communication skills to support families and carers. They work with other health care professionals to ensure patients with mental illness get the specialised care they need.  They may develop expertise in areas such as rehabilitation, child and adolescent mental health, substance misuse or working in secure settings. We now have a specialised Access to Mental Health Nursing Course, click here for details.




What are the pay and working condition like?

As a guide, once you are a qualified nurse the salary currently starts at nearly £22,000 per year. On top of this, you can earn more through overtime and other payments. As your nursing career progresses into senior management positions such as director of nursing, you can earn over £95,000 per year. 

Extra allowances can be earned for additional responsibilities, overtime, length of service, and geographical location. Nurses can often earn up to 20% more if working in an area where living costs are higher, for example in London. You can also choose to work full or part-time.


What annual leave are nurses entitled to?

Within the NHS, this is quite generous, the basic annual leave is 27 days, which on average exceeds the amount of paid holidays in private sector companies. On top of this, you’ll get 8 general and public holidays.


How is the course funded?

Nursing is a pre-registration course which enables you to apply for the standard student support package in the form of a student loan. Scholarships, bursaries or grants may also be available for example, through the university or your place of work. 

If you would like to complete an online Access to Nursing course to obtain the qualifications for entry onto a nursing degree course at university, please choose your payment options below or contact us for more information.


What units will I study on the Online Access to Nursing Course?


Ungraded Units

This gives you an opportunity to shine when you are invited for an interview at the university. You will research the university and look at the syllabus and the combination of academic and practical experience and delivery. You will address your own transferable skills and put them to use when writing your UCAS application. You can produce a practice UCAS form prior to submitting your application to UCAS. All the research relating to this unit needs to be contained in a portfolio. You can take this with you to demonstrate that you have carried out detailed research of the course that you have applied for.

There are many diseases and consequently many causes of diseases. Identifying the prevalence of diseases comes with the notion of patterns in society where disease is prevalent. You will be looking at the nature of diseases and the changing patterns across society over time. By identifying diseases and causes, steps can be taken to reduce a disease. Public Health Agencies play a clear role in this; you will be given the opportunity to discover how effective these agencies are in promoting health.

There are many different methods involved in research and you will be introduced to some of these, for example; Correlations, Experiments, Observations, Case Studies Questionnaires and Surveys. You will be given the opportunity to develop your own piece of research in a standard report format.

This can be awarded against a level 3 essay. In essay preparation, you will be expected to research a topical area and present an argument, analysis or evaluation, demonstrating that you can use the evidence you have researched to present ideas and empirical evidence to support the claims that you are making.. The set of writing conventions relating to an essay can vary depending on the subject area. You will be asked to read the question carefully so that you know what the question is asking. In identifying the key words you will be able to see what the main idea is behind the title. You will be able to demonstrate your ability to select relevant material.

Psychology Units (Graded)

This involves the localisation and function of the brain. The different methods of investigating the brain are considered, whereby the strengths and weaknesses of those methods are addressed. You will be given the opportunity to look at the interaction between the brain and behaviour in an example of day to day living.

Health Units (Graded | Level 3)

This unit relates to communication between health care professionals and clients. Here you will be able to explore the different ways of breaking down barriers of communication and how some barriers are more difficult than others to eradicate. You will develop an understanding of the importance of listening skills and how empathy is a focal point of the client /nurse relationship. There are many forms of communication used to convey confidential information. There is a focus here to show how any breaches of confidentiality can have serious consequences.

There are a range of physiological disorders identified here in this unit. You will be made aware of at least three different disorders in detail from the onset and the processes involved in the diagnosis of the disorder including the tests involved in identifying the disorder and remedies to address the disorder and the care strategies used to support the individual on recovery. The roles and responsibility of health care specialists is also important in the speed of recovery and palliative care.


Biology Units (Graded | Level 3)

The topical area for this unit considers the nature of a range of non – infectious diseases including auto immune, inherited and congenital disorders. The relationship between disease and life style (epidemiological factors) is an important combination where it is considered that diseases can have a multi – factorial cause. Epidemiological research has played a role in health promotional campaigns which have been introduced as part of health and well being initiatives to attempt to reduce the incidences of diseases.

The main theme in this unit is to develop an understanding of the hormone system and the endocrine glands. You will be looking at the principles behind homeostasis and feedback mechanisms involved in as blood sugar control. You will also look at the actions of hormones and the understandings of molecular processes in steroid and peptide action. You will be illustrating and giving accounts of the endocrine system and identifying the specific organs associated with the system. There will be an opportunity to discuss the medical use of synthetic hormones such as HRT.

Here you will be given the opportunity to explore the components and function of a balanced diet. You will be directed towards looking at what happens when there are deficiencies of a particular nutrient and you will be given the opportunity to identify common forms of malnutrition. Whilst collecting your evidence you will be explore the Alimentary Canal, identifying and locating the structure and function of the Digestive System and the processes involved in the digestive process.

This addresses the understanding of genetic inheritance including simple Mendelian crosses where you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding with illustrations and give a robust account of autosomal dominant recessive patterns and co – dominance. You will need to be able to draw and interpret a Punnett square and calculate probabilities for a variety of monohybrid or dihybrid crosses and recognise inheritance patterns. There will be an opportunity to research and understand the chromosomal basis of sex determination and explain the intra species variations as a result of features such as the environment.

This unit covers the structure and function of the male and female reproductive system. There is a focus on puberty and of the mammalian menstrual cycle where sequences of events involve hormonal changes. You will develop a broad understanding of Gametes and compare Oogenesis and Spermatogenesis. The process of IVF in understanding fertilisation is covered along with methods of contraception and their effectiveness.

The skeletal system is the primary focus of attention in this unit where you will be given the opportunity to understand the function and structure of the skeletal system, the different joints and movement possibilities relating to joints. You will locate the regions of the spine and identify a number of bones in the human body. You will explore the muscle fibre action in detail and the mechanism involved in sliding filament theory.

This introduces the basic structure and function of the nervous system including the peripheral nervous system the autonomic nervous system and it’s subdivisions. You will also be given the opportunity expand upon your research and look at the nature of nerve impulses and the importance of action potential and the myelin sheath. You will also look at the principles of synaptic transmission, the direction of transmission and the effects of synaptic inhibition.

This looks into the organisation and structure of the body considering tissue types and DNA. You will study the various blood components, the roles and relate this to the circulatory system as a whole. You will cover the blood flow within them, the dynamics of the heart in relation to the needs of the body as well as the differences between plasma and tissue fluid.

This unit looks at homeostasis and the kidney as a homeostatic organ. You will be researching the kidney’s role in the balance of water, salt and pH and the effects of the environment on a cellular level. There will be an opportunity to give a detailed account of the kidney and illustrate its function in relation to the body. Kidney replacement is also a topical area. Malfunction diagnosis is a key consideration and point of investigation.

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Access to Higher Education Diploma

Make a selection to see the price per month

The total course price is £1212 (if you pay monthly from £101 per month) or £1162 if paid in full at the start!

Prices are per month for the number of months specified, except for courses paid in full.

Choose this for any Access to Higher Education Diploma, such as Access to Nursing, Access to Midwifery, etc. You will choose your pathway when you complete the enrolment form. If you are unsure of which pathway to follow for your chosen university course, we will help you at the start of your Access Diploma course.

If you choose monthly instalments, your course will need to be fully paid by your target moderation date. These events are held in June and November each year. You should aim to complete one month prior to these dates. For example, if you start your diploma studies in October and aim to complete by the following June, you would need to select the 8 month option. If you are starting in October and plan to complete the course by the following November, you can select the 12 month option. 



Access to Higher Education Diploma (Paid in Full)

Pay in full here for any Access to ... Higher Education Diploma. The diploma pathway is chosen when you say which university course you want to do in the enrolment form. You can change your diploma choice to another pathway during the first few weeks of the course without any problem, for example if the university you are applying to says they want you to have more biology credits.

Use this for:

Access to Nursing
Access to Paramedic Practice
Access to Biomedical Science
Access to Radiography
Access to Physiotherapy
Access to Operating Department Practice
Access to Midwifery
Access to Psychology
Access to Occupational Therapy
Access to Speech Therapy
Access to Biology
Access to Social Science
Access to Social Work
Access to Health Science
Access to Podiatry
Access to Nutrition and Dietetics
Access to Dental Hygiene
Environmental Health

or you can create your own Access Course

If you prefer monthly payments, click here.

Reserve a place on the Access to HE Diploma

If you don't want to start quite yet, but would like to reserve a place to start an Access to Higher Education Diploma later in the year, you can pay a £20 deposit. When you complete the enrolment form during checkout you can choose a start date for your course. As you may be preventing others from taking the place, this deposit is not refundable if you do not take up your place on the course.

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