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Computing Access to Higher Education Advanced (Level 3)

This Access to Computing Diploma is a one year Level 3 intensive course aimed at mature students (19+) without the standard qualifications to enter higher education. This pathway enables you to develop technical and professional skills to prepare you for the challenges of a computing discipline on your chosen higher education course.


I started this Access course two years after leaving sixth form. I’d had some time out and had intended to go back to sixth form, but decided I wanted to go to university and searched online for other options. I found that Access courses can get you to university in just one year if you don’t already have the grades you need.

Coming to Bedford College was a really good decision. I’ve met so many great people and it’s getting me to where I want to be.  I was quite a shy person growing up and found that I could connect with people through computing. I taught myself a lot over the years and when I read something online about computer science from someone who was about to go and study it, something clicked in my mind and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

I love programming and enjoy the maths on the course as well; my dad and grandad are both engineers, so that sort of mind set runs in the family! Another unit I have really enjoyed is Computers in Society, which combines computing with my passion for history. The tutors and other students are all lovely and we have an online group chat to help each other out between lessons.

I’m looking forward to going to the University of Westminster to study Computer Science at the end of the Access course and would love to have a career in either software development or game development. 

Katherine - Access to Computing 

Entry requirements

This is a one year intensive course aimed at mature students (19+) without the standard qualifications to enter higher education.

GCSE English and maths is desirable; however, we may consider candidates without these qualifications, depending on an English and maths entry test, where you will need to demonstrate English and maths skills at Level 2, in addition to interviewing successfully. Additionally, if your first language is not English will need an IELTS score of 5.5 or higher. 

You will also need to have good IT skills as all of your assignments will be carried out using either Word, Excel or PowerPoint. You can undertake IT Skills classes at our Learning Centres.

It is very important to research the entry criteria of the universities you would eventually like to apply to. You will often need a minimum of GCSE English and maths, in addition to your Access qualification, for entry onto degree-level courses. We currently offer GCSE part-time courses, which you can enrol on alongside your Access course to gain these qualifications. Many university courses can be very competitive and it’s important to understand and fulfil the entry requirements prior to applying.  

Course content

On this course you will study a variety of units including database design, programming, hardware and software, networking and mathematics for computing. You will develop self confidence in your ability to learn and develop the necessary academic skills such as essay writing and research skills to prepare you for university.

You will study:

  • Database Design & Construction
  • Computing & Society
  • Introduction to Programming
  • Designing and Authoring a Website
  • Networks
  • Hardware & Software
  • Computers & Society
  • Networks
  • From Bytes to Buses
  • Database Design
  • Information Communication Technology
  • Study Skills (Essay Writing & Communication Skills)
  • Maths
  • Research Project (IAS)

NB Units are subject to change.

During the course you will meet a range of guest speakers from a variety of related organisations. You will also be invited to progression events to higher education at college and at local universities. To enable you to be successful on the course you will need to be able to use IT to produce essays, reports, presentations and statistical data. You may also be able to study towards a GCSE in either Maths or English.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be continuous throughout the course and will involve a variety of methods such as essays, presentations, projects and examinations.


Access to HE Diploma

Further study and career options

This course is designed for progression to higher education and we offer two different university level courses at college, one in Computing & Systems Development and the other in IT Networking & Security. Both of these routes have direct progression to a final top-up year at university. Other routes may be available to you at universities locally and nationally.

Additional information

You will be required to attend College for three days a week on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The proposed times of the College day will 9.15am to 4.45pm. You will also be expected to study for approximately 15 hours a week outside of College. You may need to purchase books relating to the course.

Please declare if you have English and maths GCSEs and/or Functional Skills qualifications – this information is required (note: you will need to provide evidence prior to enrolment). Once we’ve processed your application you will be contacted by email.

Pay by instalments

The College offers an instalment plan for Further Education and Higher Education courses to students where the total amount payable at the point of enrolment is £200 or more. Within the scheme there is an ability to pay up to 6 instalments, depending on the length of the courses and the final payment must be paid at least a month before the end of the course.

Funding information

If you are aged 19 or over, you may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan to help you pay the tuition fees for this course. Alternatively, you can pay by instalments to help make the cost more affordable. Find out more about your payment options at

If you complete one of our Access to Higher Education courses and use an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for your tuition fee, the Student Loans Company will write off the balance on the Advanced Learner Loan if you then go on to complete an undergraduate course.

18 year olds may apply and will need to have English Language and Maths GCSE at grade C (4) or above or equivalent level 2 qualifications before the start of the course and be subject to a successful interview. Successful applicants will be in college for 3 days per week and will also be required to undertake a relevant work placement for up to 150 hours (which will support in providing valuable experience to include in UCAS applications aiding progression to Higher Education). A work placement officer may be able to support you in finding suitable places. You will also be subject to a successful DBS check. If you are successful you may qualify for a free place. Alternatively we offer Level 2 and Level 3 courses that may be funded for 16-18 year olds.

Course Information & How to Apply

To apply online, select the 'Apply' button below. You will need to register an account and then you can follow the instructions on screen.

LengthStart DateFeesLocationCourse Code
1 year 14/09/2020 Launch our fee calculatorLaunch our fee calculator Cauldwell Street BBF2280

Apply Online


Additional Learning Support
If you have a specific learning difficulty or disability, are deaf or hearing impaired, our Additional Learning Support team are on hand to give you assistance whenever you need it.  Find out more.

Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome Support
At Bedford College, we are committed to developing the provision for students on the autistic spectrum, including Asperger’s Syndrome.  Find out more.

We have access arrangements in place to help students with disabilities or any other particular needs. Call us on 01234 291000 for more information.

Additional formats
Course information sheets are also available in large print and audio formats. Call us on
01234 291000 to order your copy.

Don't let money be a worry! Low-interest loans - study now, pay later

Advanced Learner Loans
If you’re aged 19 or over on the start date of your chosen course, you can apply for a loan to cover the tuition fees for some Level 3+ qualifications. There’s also nothing to pay back until you’ve completed your course and you’re earning over £25,000 per year!

» Visit the Advanced Learner Loans page for more information

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