Higher Education Introductory Studies (Certificate in Higher Education): 1-year, part-time, central London

Year of entry


Start date

September 2018


Central London


Fully Approved


10 months fast-track


One to two evenings a week, plus some Saturdays

Whether your interest lies in social sciences, social work, business, economics or in the arts and humanities, the Certificate of Higher Education in Higher Education Introductory Studies 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.

This course is also available in Stratford, where we also have nursing and midwifery and social work pathways.


  • Progress directly into Year 2 of our BSc Social Sciences or BSc Geography 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.
  • Designed to help you become an independent learner and to 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.

Course structure

To gain the Certificate in Higher Education, you must successfully complete four modules, worth 120 credit points, in a combination of subjects.

You have a choice of several subject pathways to study:

  • Social sciences: this pathway can form the basis of your application for a degree in the social sciences or social policy, and can be a starting point for a wide range of careers.
  • Social work and social care: this pathway gives you the academic grounding to apply for a full-time degree in social work, or for a full-time or part-time degree in a related field, such as youth and community work.
  • Business studies: this pathway enables you to go on to study a degree related to business or management.
  • Economics: this pathway prepares you for a degree in economics.
  • Arts and humanities: this pathway prepares you for a degree in English, humanities, journalism, media or creative writing, or to progress to a teaching course after completing a degree.

Social sciences pathway

Take Approaches to Study or Approaches to Study with English Language Support (Intensive) followed by three of the following modules:

Social work and social care pathway

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

Business studies pathway

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

and either

Economics pathway

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

And one further module selected from:

Arts and humanities pathway

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

    Module groups

    Sample timetable

    PDF document icon HEIS Timetable 2016-17.pdf — PDF document, 279 KB (286115 bytes)
    • Entry Requirements We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.

      Entry requirements

      No specific formal qualifications are required, but fluent written and spoken English equivalent to Level 2 (i.e. GCSE grades A-C or equivalent) is expected.

      Students wishing to progress to some degrees may be required to have GCSE grades A-C in English, mathematics and/or science. Please check entry requirements for the degree to which you intend to apply.

      This programme is not suitable for students who already have an undergraduate degree.

      International entry requirements

      If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

      If you don’t meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

      Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country. Please be aware that this course isn't eligible for Tier 4 sponsorship, but International students with other visa statuses may be eligible.

      Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

      If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

      Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

    • Fees We are committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies.

      Fees (2017/8)

      Part-time home/EU students: £ 6000 pa
      Part-time overseas students: £ 6000 pa
    • Teaching and assessment Our innovative, engaging teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments.


      At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

      Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.

      Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

      In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.

      Methods of teaching on this course

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

      This is an intensive programme and you must be willing to work 15-20 hours a week independently outside class.


      Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

      Indicative class size

      Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.

      Academic support

      Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

      • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
      • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
      • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

      Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

      Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

      Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.


      Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

      Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.

      Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

      Methods of assessment on this course

      Coursework, timed assessments and seminar presentations.


      As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.

      Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.

      Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.

      Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.

    • Careers and employability To help you get ahead in your career, we offer free advice and training and our recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, can connect you with employers.

      Careers and employability

      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 Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.

      How to apply

      Programme application certificate: you apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link. You can only apply for the whole programme.

      If you wish to take this course over two years, you can take the Certificate via the modular routeYou can also study this course in Stratford.

      Birkbeck offers a range of free face-to-face advice and support to help you make a successful application.

      Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

      Application deadlines and interviews

      Once your application is received, you will be invited to attend an admissions evening. Acceptance on to the programme will only be confirmed when your pathway of study has been agreed at one of these evenings. You will also receive guidance from our lecturers on which subject areas best suit your interests and potential, so you can plan your study and career progression effectively.