Higher Education Introductory Studies (Certificate of Higher Education)

Whether your interest lies in social sciences, business, or in the arts and humanities, the Certificate of Higher Education in Higher Education Introductory Studies course offers you the chance to develop the learning approaches and skills you need to successfully pursue undergraduate study. It also provides an opportunity to explore different subject areas before you decide on a particular degree. 

On this course, you will have the support of established academics in the subject you are studying, as well as the opportunity to take part in additional course activities, such as our social sciences reading group. You will also be given support and guidance on making a degree application.

Progression routes are available on to several Birkbeck undergraduate degrees. The certificate is also a standalone University of London qualification, recognised by employers and universities. 

Want to do this course faster? Choose from the following options:


  • You can progress directly into Year 2 of Birkbeck's BA Arts and Humanities, BSc Business, BSc Geography, BA History or BSc Social Sciences after successfully completing this course.
  • Our academic staff are recognised authorities in their fields, delivering stimulating and relevant teaching programmes.
  • Several specialist pathways are available, so you have the opportunity to study subjects that match your interests.
  • This course will help you become an independent learner and meet your study skill needs if you are new to higher education, including essay writing and presentation skills.
  • In addition to Birkbeck financial support, each year we also award a number of further donor bursaries to a selection of students on this course. 

Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

If you are awarded the Certificate of Higher Education, you can apply for admission to the following undergraduate degrees at Birkbeck: 

  • BA Arts and Humanities 
  • BSc Business 
  • BA History 
  • BSc Geography 
  • BSc Social Sciences

You can progress directly into Year 2 of your chosen degree if you successfully complete designated modules to the required standard. 

For further information about module combinations and progressing to undergraduate degrees, you are strongly advised to attend one of our termly Higher Education Introductory Studies progression evenings (use the Contact Us button to find out about the next event). 

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education, you must successfully complete modules worth 120 credit points. 

You start with the core Approaches to Study module, which you can study with English language support if English is your second language, and then you progress to subject modules in the subsequent terms. You should only take one module at a time. 


Take Approaches to Study or Approaches to Study with English Language Support (Intensive) and then three of the following:


Take Approaches to Study or Approaches to Study with English Language Support (Intensive) followed by:


Take Approaches to Study or Approaches to Study with English Language Support (Intensive) and then three of the following:

NB: If you wish to progress to Year 2 of Birkbeck's 4-year part-time evening study BA Arts and Humanities, you should take the following modules:


    Take Approaches to Study or Approaches to Study with English Language Support (Intensive) followed by:

    and one of the following:


    Take Approaches to Study or Approaches to Study with English Language Support (Intensive) followed by: 

    • History 
    • four 15-credit designated modules from the Certificate of Higher Education in History and Archaeology. 


    This pathway is available on our 1-year fast-track programme.


    This pathway is available on our 1-year fast-track programme.

        Module groups

        The exploration of questions about equality, diversity and social justice in the contemporary world is an interdisciplinary theme linking the programme's modules. All subject modules give ongoing attention to the development of your academic writing and study skills.

        You may, subject to approval, count modules from other Certificate of Higher Education programmes towards this award.

        • Entry Requirements

          Entry requirements

          No formal qualifications are required, but fluent written and spoken English is expected, equivalent to Level 2. If English is your second language, you should take Approaches to Study with English Language Support. English language level is assessed at our advice and guidance evenings.

          Some of the degrees you can progress onto after this course require GCSE grades A-C in English, mathematics and/or science. Please check entry requirements for the degree you are interested in. 

          This course is not suitable if you already have an undergraduate degree. 

          Visa requirements

          If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

          The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

          • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
          • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
          • Pre-sessional English language courses.

          International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

          For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

        • Fees


          Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please click on the Course Structure tab and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose. 

          If you wish to apply for a student loan for both this course and a future degree, you will only be eligible if you study your degree part-time. 

        • Teaching and assessment


          Teaching and learning methods include talks, discussions, group work, visits, presentations and self-directed learning using a range of resources, including our virtual learning environment. Learning groups are kept to around 20 students, to ensure plenty of opportunity for interaction between students and lecturers. An introductory workshop is held at the beginning of each term.

          You will be expected to spend 10 hours a week on self-directed home study. 


          Coursework, timed essays and seminar presentations

        • Careers and employability

          Careers and employability

          Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.

          We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

        • How to apply

          How to apply

          You must attend an admissions session prior to enrolling, where you can speak to lecturers and decide if the modules are at the right level for you. Use the Contact Us button to get in touch for dates of forthcoming sessions. 

          This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire programme of study). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.