Access to Science Studies

Access to Science Studies is the only part-time campus-based pathway to Science degrees in the Forth Valley area. Successful completion of the course guarantees entry to a degree in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. This includes:

  • Biology, Animal Biology, Cell Biology or Marine Biology
  • Environmental Geography
  • Environmental or Conservation based degrees
  • Mathematics or Computing Science (you must have a suitable qualification level in mathematics) 

The course is for anyone living in Scotland who has a few or no formal qualifications and has been out of full-time education for more than three years.

Apply now for Access to Science 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

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 Science 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.

Entry requirements

To apply for the Access to Science 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 Science Studies is the right course for you, we will then ask you to complete a short written task.

Mathematics requirements

You need to be confident about studying maths at SCQF Level 5 and data skills at SCQF Level 7.  You must have one of the following:

  • Core Skills Numeracy at Level 5 or Nat 5/Nat 4 mathematics/ Standard grade (3) mathematics.
  • Relevant work or life experience, which gave you confidence with numerical tasks.

We welcome applications from anyone with qualifications in science or maths subjects no matter how long ago they were taken.

Please contact our Admissions team at if you have questions about your previous qualifications or experience in maths.

If you are not confident about studying maths, we recommend you contact the adult learning department within your local authority area to ask about opportunities for increasing your level of numeracy qualifications before applying for the Access to Science Studies course.

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

Please email if you have questions about whether your qualifications are suitable for joining a maths based degree.

'Out of date' qualifications

We welcome applications from people with ‘spent’ qualifications in science or maths subjects, i.e., qualifications usually considered out of date because they were taken more than five years ago.

Please contact if you have questions.

Course structure and content

Everyone will study six modules in the Access to Science 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.

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. 

Introduction to Science (SCQF Level 6)

The module covers basic areas of biology with a focus on the structure and function of living cells, basic life processes and body systems. You will gain confidence in taking assessments with plenty of online resources to support your learning, in addition to face-to-face classes on campus. You will also apply scientific knowledge to complete a short assignment.

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 

Data Skills (SCQF Level 7)

This module gives you the opportunity to improve your basic statistical and mathematical skills needed for our Science degrees.

Choice of one module from:

Human Biology (SCQF Level 7)

The module looks at some biological processes including reproduction and fertility, diabetes and blood sugar, autoimmunity, and control of disease. You will engage with case studies and research a topic in more depth.

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 learn about the connections between the oceans, atmosphere, land, and associated life forms, as well as extending your skills in writing and research. 

Courses 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 are taught on Monday and Thursday evenings from 18:30 to 21:30.

Most classes are taught face-to-face on campus in Stirling. 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 Science 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.


Top 5 in Scotland for Biology

Guardian University Guide 2023

Top 5 in Scotland for Geography and Environmental Science

(Complete University Guide 2023)

Progression to a Science degree at Stirling

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

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

Successful students will be offered a place on a science or maths related undergraduate degree course at the University of Stirling. See the courses in the Faculty of Natural Sciences or Management School that you could apply for. 

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 Science Studies course, and the University aims to offer you a place as close as possible to your chosen course. You will also be given support when you apply for your undergraduate degree. 

Student stories

Michael Sammels
Michael Sammels
United Kingdom
BSc (Hons) Computing Science and Mathematics
The Access course has opened up many doors for me, and now along with my studies, I work closely with the Student Union as the Mature Students Officer, as well as with other departments and staff across the campus.
Read Michael's story
Kirsty Brown
Kirsty Brown
United Kingdom
BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation
I wanted to do something that inspired me and gave me a greater sense of purpose, with the aim to pursue a career in Ecology or other related fields. Graduating from the Access to Science Degree course has transformed my career path, giving me access to a very relevant degree that will open up prospects in the environmental sector.
Read Kirsty'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.