Access to Degree Studies


Stirling is a place where potential and enthusiasm – not background – is valued. We want to help you realise your potential and our Access to Degree Studies programme is the perfect place to start.


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Key information


Qualification: Access degree
Start date: Mid-August
Course Director: Dr Dalene Swanson
Mature Student Adviser: Tracey Kerr

Fees and funding


Course fee: £490 (2018/19)
Find out how to apply for SAAS funding

Why Access at Stirling?


Our Access to Degree Studies course is designed for mature students with few or no formal qualifications, and who have been out of formal education (eg high school) for some time. They give you both the academic qualifications you need to get into a degree and tailored support, guidance and study skills throughout the course to make sure you're ready for university.

Shumela Ahmed, a former access course student, graduated with a degree in Politics and Journalism. Shumela is just one of many who graduate each year, and we think her story tells you why you would want to study this course.

The course has three streams, which can lead onto a wide variety of degrees: -

  • Nursing (Nursing applications closed for 2018)
  • Science
  • General

N.B. Please note this course might not be suitable for students who want to become Primary and Secondary teachers. Get in touch if you would like to use our access course to get into our Education degrees. 

Students who complete this course are highly successful, often staying with us after they have graduated to study postgraduate courses. We even have former students now teaching on our courses as lecturers. For instance Paul McMenemy started on our access course and is now a member of the research staff within Mathematics.

Other universities will also accept students from our access courses on to their degree programmes, particularly in subjects we don't currently offer such as Midwifery. You should check with the university you want to go to before you decide on a course.

Stirling has been running an access course for a number of years producing highly successful graduates across a range of subjects and professions. We are highly respected with a prominent position in Scottish Education, and work hard to maintain our cutting edge approach to developing new knowledge within the field, as well as feeding this new knowledge into all of our courses. 

What courses do you offer?

There is one access course with three streams. You choose which one of the three streams of Nursing, Science or the General stream you want depending on what kind of degree you want to go into.

Nursing students can go on to study Adult Nursing or Mental Health Nursing at Stirling, or use the course to go to another university if you are interested in a different field of practice i.e. Child Nursing,Learning Disability Nursing, Midwifery. (Nursing applications closed for 2018)

Science students can go on to study any of our degrees in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, including Animal or Marine Biology, Biology or Cell Biology, Environmental Geography, Sport and Exercise Science or one of our Environmental or Conservation based degrees.

General students can go on to study a wide variety of degrees including our Social Sciences degrees, Arts and Humanities degrees, Management School degrees and even Sports Studies.

What do I study?

What you study depends on which stream you are on: -

Nursing students study Introductory Science, Human Biology, Maths and a Data Skills module to build your confidence in handling numbers and statistics. (Nursing applications closed for 2018)

Science students study Introductory Science, Human Biology, Maths and a Data Skills module to build your confidence in handling numbers and statistics. You can also choose to study Environmental Management.

General students can choose four modules from Introductory Social Science, Sociology, Politics, Business Management, Education, Psychology, Social Psychology and a Science course such as Environmental Management.

Everyone studies two Learning Strategies modules which give you the study skills you need at university, such as essay writing, critical thinking and research.

The course starts in mid-August each year, which is a few weeks before the main start of semester for most students, to help you settle in. There are two semesters - one from mid-August to December and one from January to May. There is a graduation, or ‘celebration of success’ evening in June at the end of the course.

The idea is to build your skills to help you study a degree, including how to develop academic arguments, write academically, learn with others, facilitate your own learning and the learning of your peers.

Classes are an opportunity to question, debate, discuss, and learn individually and collaboratively with others. Assessment includes essay writing, presentations, group discussions, problem-solving exercises and short tasks. In most subjects there is a 1.5 hour exam at the end of the semester that forms part of your course work.

What support can I get?

Access students tend to form bonds quickly with other students so you will find yourself in a supportive group from the start. We would also encourage you to take part in events and societies run by The Students' Union so you feel part of the wider university community.

Student Support

Our friendly and welcoming Student Support Services team are your first point of call for all kinds of support and they are happy to talk to you at any time. They can provide information, advice and guidance on a whole range of subjects, including:

Finance advice

What financial support you are entitled to depends on your individual circumstances. You can get in touch with our Money Advisers directly to see what support you can get.

Disability advice

We are committed to offering a service which is welcoming and supportive of the needs of all students. Our Accessibility and Inclusion team takes into account the full range of needs of students with a disability in a wide variety of circumstances.

Advisers offer one-to-one support before you arrive and throughout your time at university to assess what you might need and help you access it. This includes help applying for the Disabled Student Allowance and support for students with Dyslexia to organise diagnostic assessment.

We recommend that you come to see the team on campus before you start. Get in touch to find out more about the type of support you may need.

Other forms of support

There is also a wide range of study and practical skills advice on offer. Student Learning Services provide wide-ranging study skills guidance and also run the Learning Strategies modules.

Throughout your time at the university Student Support Services and The Students' Union have trained counsellors who provide a free service to all students. They cover a range of services offering a safe and confidential environment where difficulties, no matter how big or small, can be talked through including money worries, family/relationship problems, exam stress and more.

 Care Experienced Students

Our care experienced student advisers can help you with information and advice on a range of topics. You can get in touch at any time from before you apply through to when you become a student, or .

General advice

If you have questions but do not know who to ask, feel free to get in touch with our Widening Participation Manager, Tracey Kerr. You can ask a question on anything from what degree to study or where to find out information to is there a coffee shop on campus!

Course staff


Dr Dalene Swanson - Dalene is the Course Director of Access to Degree Studies. She also lectures on the Initial Teacher Education programme in the Faculty of Social Sciences, and researches in the field of Education and Mathematics Education. She is a member of the Scottish Universities Association of Lifelong Learning, is on the Board of Trustees of Scotdec Global Learning Centre, and is an international executive member of the UNESCO Chair in Democracy, Global citizenship, and Transformative Education.

Dr Kevin Brosnan - Kevin teaches on the Access to Degree Studies programme and is also the Course Director of the Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) In Service and Pre Service programmes.

Dr Sarah Galloway - Sarah teaches on the Access to Degree Studies programme. Sarah is also a member of the National Strategic Forum on Adult Learning Working Group - Professional Development, which takes forward the priorities set out in the Scottish Government's vision for adult learning. 

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