Pre-Access and Access to Higher Education - College of West Anglia
The College of West Anglia

Pre-Access Courses

Our pre-access courses allow you to experience studying again without the commitment of signing up to a full access course. So if you wish to get back into eucation or are looking for a change in career why not consider studying a pre-access course at UcWA?


Access to Higher Education

CAmbridge Access Validating Agency

Access to Higher Education courses provide the opportunity for career progression and further study at undergraduate level, including full honours degrees, foundation degrees and Higher National Certificates or Diplomas. Many Access students go on to succeed at university and beyond, with a large number pursuing new careers and seeing changes in their lives they had previously never thought possible.

Access courses are for anyone aged 19 and over who want to gain a level 3 qualification. They run over the course of a year, from September to June, and are designed for people who would like to study in higher education but left school without the qualifications needed to progress to university.

You will achieve an Access to Higher Education Diploma which is validated by the Cambridge Access Validating Agency and recognised as meeting the entry requirements for university.

Access to Medicine and Dentistry

Our Access to Higher Education: Medicine and Dentistry diploma is designed for adults who, for one reason or another, have not had the opportunity to study towards a degree or diploma, or have achieved in other areas and now wish to retrain to become a doctor. It may also be suitable for people who have previously taken a degree in a non-science subject and now want to retrain.

If you already hold a degree, then acceptance for the course will be dependant on degree classification. University medical schools do not usually accept students with a recent degree below grade 2:1. If you are in the latter category and in doubt, we advise you to check entry requirements with specific universities. Our course is well established and is recognised by 20 medical schools, with a separate pathway for those who wish to train in dentistry.

The dentistry pathway encompasses the same core subjects as medicine, with an additional subject option - 'the mouth in health and disease'. This unit involves study of the underlying principles of examination, diagnosis and treatment and includes periodontics and prosthetics. Students intending to progress to dental schools would benefit from taking this additional unit.

Before contacting us, please check the FAQs below first. To view the course page click here.


The main subjects studied are biology, chemistry and physics, with ancillary subjects of mathematics and medical geography. You will also complete a project; this will be an opportunity to focus on an area you may wish to specialise in later. You will receive guidance and help in selecting, organising, analysing and presenting the project. There is an end examination and assignments for each subject - final grading in each subject will be 50% assignment, 50% examination. In addition, students also have to complete the project report.

You will need to fulfill the set tasks of the course (such as essays and projects) and will need to spend a lot of time actively studying and learning and reading around your subjects. You should be prepared to undertake approximately 20 to 30 hours study every week - in addition to the class times. There will be a total of approximately 19 hours of lectures, seminars and practicals each week. The earliest classes start at 8.45am and most classes will finish on or before 4.15pm. Lectures may also be held on one evening each week.


Students aged 19 to 23 years studying their first level 3 qualification

If you are aged 19 to 23 at the start of the course and this is your first level 3 qualification, you will be eligible for a full reduction on the course fee. If eligible, you can also apply to the college’s Learner Support Fund, which can offer help with some of the course fees and related costs.

Students aged 19 or older who already hold a level 3 qualification

Course fee for 2016-17 – approximately £3350 (to be confirmed)

If you are aged 19 or older and already hold a level 3 qualification, the course does not receive government funding and the full fee of approximately £3350 (to be confirmed) is payable. You will also be asked to pay a non-refundable deposit of £200, payable once you have been offered a place; this will be paid back to you on successful completion of the course. However, most students will be eligible to apply for the Advanced Learning Loan to cover the full tuition fees.

  • The Advanced Learning Loan is a Government scheme for learners aged 19 and older and studying at level 3 or higher
  • It’s easy to apply, eligibility is not based on income and there is no credit check
  • Repayments do not start until April 2018 at the earliest and there’s nothing to repay until you are earning over £21,000 per year
  • Successful loan applicants will not have to pay any upfront tuition fees
  • Students taking out a loan to complete an Access to Higher Education course (including Access to Medicine and Dentistry) who go on to complete a higher education course (e.g. a degree) will not have to repay the loan for the access course

You can find more information on Advanced Learning Loan here.


No. Even with the correct GCSEs, most medical schools will not consider 2:2 degrees, therefore we do not accept applicants with 2:2 degrees onto our courses.


We will require a NARIC statement of comparability to ensure that non-UK or Irish high school qualifications meets UK GCSE grade A-C standard. This can be obtained (along with further information) via NARIC. We will also need to see copies of certificates to ensure that the grades obtained match the results of the NARIC statement.


These will be assessed as UK qualifications to ascertain if they meet the entry requirements.


No. Any qualification above GCSE standard does not negate the need to hold the required GCSEs.


No. We will only accept GCSE maths and English. Medical schools do not accept alternative qualifications to GCSEs.


We advise all prospective applicants to do their own research to get an idea of their likely acceptability for medicine before they start the course. This is best done by looking at medical schools' websites or their prospectuses. You will be required to take UKCAT (UK Clinical Admissions Test). However medical school entry requirements do vary and you may be required to take BMAT (British Medical Admissions Tests).

The following medical schools accept the course (please check with individual schools for full details of their entry requirements):

  • Aberdeen
  • Leeds
  • Brighton and Sussex
  • Leicester
  • Cambridge
  • Liverpool
  • Cardiff
  • Manchester
  • Durham
  • Newcastle
  • East Anglia
  • Oxford
  • Edinburgh
  • Royal Free and University College
  • Kings
  • Sheffield
  • Hull York
  • Southampton
  • Keele

Access to Medicine students have also gone on to study medicine via the 4-year fast track courses at Cambridge, Leicester, Newcastle, and Southampton.


From the 2010/11 course, 67% of students received offers.


Typically, this can take up to 4 weeks due to the volume of applications that are received. We write to all applicants informing them if they are unsuccessful and reasons why.


This is down to the individual. However, the course is extremely intrusive outside of class hours, given the fast pace of the study schedule that students are expected to keep up with. Long distance commuting is also not advised.


This is a one year programme – starting in September and finishing the following June/July.


No. Accommodation must be arranged solely by the prospective student via private landlords. Please click here for more information.


If you are an international student or have lived outside the EU within the last three years, the full fee of approximately £3350 (to be confirmed) is payable. Unfortunately, the college is unable to offer any financial support to international students.

International students are not eligible for the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan.

Due to UK Border Agency (immigration) rules, we are no longer able to support overseas’ student visa applications for this course. Therefore, unless you are an EU citizen (hold an EU passport) or have ‘settled’ status in the UK such as Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain in your passport, we will be unable to process your application.

In practical terms, this means that if you need a student visa to come to the UK to take this course, we cannot accept your application.

If you do have ‘settled’ status and do not require a student visa to come to or stay in the UK, we can accept your application but will require you to bring your passport and any relevant immigration documents as evidence of your right to stay in the UK with you to your college interview.

Please note that if you hold non-UK qualifications, you will need to ensure that these are at least equivalent to the UK qualifications mentioned above. Before we can process an application from an applicant with non-UK qualifications, we require a Statement of Comparability, which you can get from NARIC. You will also usually be able to obtain more information from your local British Council.

If English is not your first language, we will require you to have an IELTS score of 6 (or equivalent) to join the course. You should also check the requirements of individual university medical schools – some require an IELTS score of 7.

Success Story

Tirion Miles

Access to Higher Education – Humanities & Social Sciences

Tirion is currently studying BA (Hons) British Sign Language and Deaf Studies at the University of Central Lancashire and successfully completing the Access to Higher Education – Humanities and Social Sciences course at the College of West Anglia (CWA). She chose to study an Access course as she wanted to study at university but didn’t have the required qualifications. After some research she decided to study an Access course in the evening at CWA rather than a foundation year at university as it allowed her to still work locally.

Tirion said: “I’m really pleased I decided to study an Access course at CWA. At first I was worried about working full-time and studying but with a bit of concentration it was easy to manage. Ultimately the course lead me where I wanted to go and I am extremely happy.”


Sev Lanckmans

Access to Higher Education: Medicine & Dentistry

Sev studied Access to Higher Education: Medicine and Dentistry at the King’s Lynn campus and is now studying Medicine at Brighton & Sussex University, with plans to specialise in anesthetics.

Sev said: “I didn’t do as well as I should, or could, have in my GCSEs so didn’t take my education any further. After a few years, I decided it was time to make a change. I wanted to work towards qualifying as a doctor, so going to college was the first step, and CWA is one of a limited number of colleges in the UK to offer an Access to Medicine course, which can be used to apply for University. I loved the broad spectrum of sciences covered, and the amount of practical work involved in the course. Plus, I had some amazing tutors who were really patient with me. I can’t thank them enough!”