Access to Degree Studies

The University of Stirling Access to Degree Studies course is for anyone who wants to study an undergraduate degree course, but has few or no formal qualifications or has been out of full-time education for more than three years. Successful completion of the course offers pathways to a wide range of undergraduate courses at the University of Stirling in the Faculties of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Stirling Management School, and Sport.

As well as learning subjects necessary to joining an undergraduate course, the Access to Degree Studies course offers tailored support, guidance and study strategies, making sure you are ready for university level education. All students can access the full range of University services whilst studying on the course. 

Apply now for Access to Degree Studies

Key facts

Start date: August 2024
Duration: Two semesters
Mode of study: Part-time
Delivery: On-campus and online classes on Monday and Thursday evenings
Class time: Two 3-hour classes each week
Independent study: 6-10 hours per week

Fees and funding

Course fee: £575 (2024-25)

SAAS part-time fee grant may be available - find out more on the SAAS website.

Course details

Access to Degree Studies is a gateway to a vast range of undergraduate courses at the University of Stirling including:

  • Social Sciences, including Education, Social Work, Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy
  • Arts and Humanities which includes Business Law, Digital Media, English Studies, Film and Media, Heritage and Tourism, History, Politics, Journalism Studies, Law, and Politics
  • University of Stirling Management School including Business Studies and Marketing (for Accountancy and Economics, please apply to the Access to Science Studies course)
  • Sport 

There are many combinations of the above courses available, for example History and Politics or Professional Education and English Studies.

Access to Degree Studies gives you a firm foundation of academic skills, subject knowledge and learning experiences, allowing you to select from a large number of degree options. This means that you can start the Access Course before deciding which degree course you would like to take.

For entry to Nursing or Paramedic Science degrees, please see Access to Nursing Studies

For entry to Biological and Environmental Sciences, Accountancy, Economics, Geography, Computing or Conservation, please see Access to Science Studies

The course offers a supportive learning community where you will gain the necessary academic and numerical skills as well as essential scientific knowledge needed for degree study.

As an Access student, you will have full entitlement to all the Student Services and campus facilities offered to our undergraduate students.

Who is eligible for the Access to Degree Studies course?

This course is open to anyone who has not studied at university level before and does not have enough entry qualifications and experience required to apply successfully for undergraduate study. Students should have been out of formal education for a minimum of three years.

We welcome applications from all students including: 

  • Care experienced students
  • Young or adult carers
  • Members of the armed forces community including those currently serving in the armed forces and service leavers/veterans
  • Refugee and asylum seekers
  • Disabled students - adjustments for disabled applicants, including those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, can be put in place before the course starts. Please contact the Course Director for more information.

If you have specific circumstances you wish to be considered, such as your existing qualifications, or whether you can be regarded as a mature student please contact the Course Director, Dr Sarah Galloway at

Entry requirements

To apply for the Access for Degree Studies course, you must upload your current CV and a short personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.

Our admissions team will review your application. If we decide that Access to Degree Studies is the right course for you, we will then ask you to complete a short written task.

Literacy and numeracy skills

If you think that your literacy or numeracy skills might hold you back from joining the Access to Degree Studies course, you could consider engaging with some adult learning first.

For information about adult learning in the Forth Valley area you can contact:

Please email if you have questions about your qualifications or experience.

Course structure and content

Everyone will study six modules in the Access to Degree Studies course. Each module is equivalent to 10 Credits (SCQF).

In Semester 1 all modules are mapped to SCQF level 5 or 6, and in Semester 2 all modules are mapped to SCQF level 7.

During the course, everyone studies two Learning Strategies modules. These modules cover knowledge and skills crucial to becoming a successful university student. These include:

  • Effective time management
  • Critical thinking
  • How to do research
  • Essay and report writing
  • Effective learning methods
  • How to develop your knowledge to perform well in presentations, class assessments, assignments and exams
  • How to use the library effectively

All students have their own Personal Tutor for individual support and guidance.

Semester  Modules
Semester 1, August - December

Learning Strategies 1 (SCQF Level 6)

You will learn about, discuss and practice a range of study skills, particularly related to academic writing. All Access students take this module, allowing you to work alongside and learn from students interested in studying a wide range of subjects.

Choose two of the following modules:

Introduction to Social Science (SCQF Level 6)

Key concepts in Social Science are introduced through the discussion of themes such as the family, schooling, the media, and culture. There is plenty of discussion and opportunities to research topics of interest to you.

Introduction to Psychology (SCQF Level 6)

This module introduces key terminologies, probing questions about how we learn, remember and think. There is a short introduction to clinical psychology covering topics such as anxiety and phobias. You will gain generic academic skills helpful for the study of a range of degree subjects. 

Mathematics (SCQF Level 5)

This module is ideal for anyone who has previously found maths challenging. There are plenty of resources to assist your skills in mathematics. The workshop style approach to the classes and the friendly atmosphere enables students to learn in a supportive environment.

Semester 2, January - May

Learning Strategies 2 (SCQF Level 7)

This online module focuses on key areas for developing independent study in preparation for studying an undergraduate course at the University of Stirling. The topics include:

  • Reflective and critical thinking and writing
  • Reading and evaluating journal articles
  • Finding and referencing academic texts
  • Using the library and reading lists 

Choose two of the following modules:

Sociology, Theory and Application (SCQF Level 7)

Key theorists in Sociology are introduced and their ideas put to work in the interrogation of contemporary society. There is a balance between lectures and discussion, extending your academic reading, speaking and writing skills. 

Education (SCQF Level 7)

Education is a vehicle for exploring ideas drawing from Social Policy, Sociology, Politics, Psychology, and Philosophy. There are opportunities to share and learn from the experience of others, and to extend your skills in academic writing, presenting and research. 

Environmental Science (SCQF Level 7)

You will learn about the Earth’s environment and how science enables a greater understanding of it. There is a holistic understanding of the environment, known as an ‘Earth systems’ approach, where you can understand the connections between the oceans, atmosphere, land, and associated life forms, as well as extending your skills in writing and research. 

Course dates and times

There are two semesters:

  • Semester 1 - Starts mid-August to the first week in December
  • Semester 2 - Starts in the second week in January to mid-May

Classes take place between 18:30 and 21:30 as follows: 

  • Monday (Introduction to Psychology/Education)
  • Wednesday (Introduction to Social Science/Environmental Science)
  • Thursday (Mathematics 1/Sociology Theory and Practice) 

Most classes are taught face-to-face on campus. We also have some online classes, allowing you to gain confidence with the University’s virtual learning environment, Canvas. 

You must attend two 3-hour classes and undertake 6-10 hours of independent study each week. Attendance is mandatory from the start of the course. Do not book holidays during semester time and set time aside each week for independent study.

We follow the Stirling Council schools calendar for mid-term breaks (this differs from the rest of the University).

The course starts with a mandatory online Welcome Week. During Welcome Week, you will attend Welcome Night where you will meet your lecturers and find out about the University’s support services for students. You will also have an online induction meeting where you will begin familiarising yourself with Canvas, the University’s virtual learning environment.

In June, there is a Celebration of Success evening at the end of the course. Family and close friends are invited to come along and join in the celebration of your achievements. We also give out our Access Achievement Awards, including the prestigious Jim Bradley Award, to students who have succeeded highly and contributed greatly to our learning community.

Teaching and assessment

The course offers a blend of in-person teaching and online learning. Coming onto campus for classes will help you to become familiar with the facilities and start to feel like you are a part of our Stirling community. You will gain valuable experience of studying with other students online via Canvas, becoming fully prepared for contemporary university life. 

Classes, whether online or in-person, are opportunities to question, debate, discuss, and learn individually and in groups. 


Access to Degree Studies course offers you opportunities to practice and gain confidence in taking a wide range of assessments, preparing you for university life. This includes essays, multiple choice tests and short answer questions. During class, you will also be able to discuss questions with your lecturers and other students in a supportive environment. 

All subject modules include more than one assessment, allowing you to demonstrate your progression within that subject. There is also a final assessment in early December and early May.

What equipment do I need for the course?

  • A laptop or desktop computer. A computer is essential for attending classes online and working on your assignments. Study will not be possible via mobile phones or tablets.
  • WiFi access. A reliable WiFi signal is essential. When on campus you will have access to free University WiFi.
  • Headphones and webcam. You must have headphones and webcam to hear and see your lecturer and the other students when attending classes on-line.

If you have problems in accessing the necessary technology and/or WiFi, and live in the Stirling Council area, you can contact their Digital Inclusion team at for advice and assistance. The University also has a free laptop loan scheme.

We recommend that you find a quiet space for study. It's important that you have time for study without any distractions. You may make use of local council libraries, or the University library and study areas.

Progression to degree study

To pass the Access to Degree Studies course you will need to:

  • Gain an average of at least 50% across the modules (see below for exceptions)
  • Fulfil the attendance and assessment requirements for each module

You will apply to the University of Stirling in December via UCAS for university entry. The process allows you to discover the wide range of degree options available and consider which ones would be best for you.

Successful students will be guaranteed a place on an undergraduate course at the University of Stirling.

Access to Degree Studies students can go on to study a wide variety of degrees, including those found in:

The University aims to offer you a place on your chosen course, but it may not always be possible as these places are competitive. However, you will be offered some choice if you are successful in the Access to Degree Studies course, and the University aims to offer you a place as close as possible to your chosen course. You will be given support when you apply for your undergraduate degree.

Entry to Law degrees

For entry to Law, Access to Degree Studies students require a grade average of 60% across all modules.

Entry to a Social Work degree

Our Social Work Division welcomes applications from Access to Degree Studies students. Applicants wanting to study BA (Hons) Social Work will need to go through an interview process.

Entry to Education degrees

If you want to gain a school teaching qualification, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) expects minimum requirements of Higher English and National 5 Mathematics, or their equivalents. See the GTC website for the latest information.  

If you want to be a College Lecturer, you can take BA Teaching Qualification for Further Education (TQFE) - pre-service at Stirling, once you have completed your degree.

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Student stories

Alan Waddell
Alan Waddell
United Kingdom
BA English Studies
The Access course provided me with a route to my chosen degree as I did not achieve the qualifications I required at school. I have now completed the full circle and returned to the university to support people, like me, from Scotland and Widening Participation backgrounds, hoping to access Higher Education.
Read Alan's story
Ryan Coyle
Ryan Coyle
United Kingdom
BA (Hons) Philosophy
I came back to education because I wanted to make a real difference in the community. Having a full-time job whilst completing the Access course was challenging but knowing that the course was going to help my future made everything worthwhile.
Read Ryan's story
Maitland Kelly
Maitland Kelly
United Kingdom
MSc International Conflict and Cooperation
I always wanted to go to University but chose to join the Police Force instead. The Access Course has not only given me the opportunity and the ability to start and finish a degree, but it has also given me a passion for helping other students.
Read Maitland's story

Contact us

If you have any questions about the Access courses please email You can also contact Dr Sarah Galloway who is the Course Director.

Please email our Admissions Team at if you have specific questions about your qualifications or entry requirements.