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Higher Education Introductory Studies (Certificate of Higher Education)

Whether your interest lies in the arts and humanities, business or the social sciences, 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. 

Want to do this course faster?

We also offer a 10-month fast-track Higher Education Introductory Studies (Certificate of Higher Education).


  • 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.

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: 

For further information about progressing to undergraduate degrees you need to attend one of our regular Higher Education Introductory Studies admissions evenings (use the Contact the Department button to find out about the next event).


Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education you must register on and successfully complete individual modules.

You follow one of four pathways:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Business Studies
  • Social Sciences
  • Social Work and Social Care

Each pathway includes the core module Approaches to Study or Approaches to Study with English Language and a choice of option modules - see below.

For further information about module combinations, you need to attend one of our regular Higher Education Introductory Studies admissions evenings (use the Contact the Department button to find out about the next event).

Module groups

You can take these modules as part of this certificate, or as standalone short courses.

  • 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, or grades 4-9, 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 UK and you do not already have residency here, 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: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

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

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

  • 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. 

    Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

  • 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

    We offer a comprehensive Careers 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 the Department 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.