Step Up To Higher Education University Foundation Certificate

Location Stoke-on-Trent Campus
Duration 10 Weeks
Course start September
LocationModeStart dateApply
Stoke-on-Trent CampusPart-time2018/19 Academic YearApply Direct
Stoke-on-Trent CampusPart-time2019/20 Academic YearApply Direct

We have course intakes taking place on the following the dates:

  • Monday 23rd September 2019 – Tuesday 3rd December 2019
  • Monday 13th January 2020 – Tuesday 24th March 2020
  • Monday 20th April 2019 – Tuesday 30th June 2020

Attendance is required on a Monday and Tuesday, 10am-2pm.

Course outline

The Step Up to Higher Education (HE) course is perfect for students who want to return to education and develop the key academic skills needed for university level study.

From day one you will get to grips with the crucial skills needed in HE, including attending and preparing for lectures and seminars, gathering research, note-taking and personal reflection.

The course is designed to develop your academic writing, referencing, research and critical thinking skills, all of which are key to success in HE. At the same time, the course develops the individual confidence of each learner. Our specialist and friendly course team have extensive experience helping students achieve their academic potential, working with hundreds of students over the years. Many learners who complete the course progress on to foundation or degree level study at the University. Past students have gone on to study photography, law, business, social welfare, sociology and many more.

This course also gives you the opportunity to try taster sessions in various subjects, and our tutors will provide you with the guidance and support needed when making a decision on your next step.

On completion, you will be awarded 30 credits at Level 3 with the ‘Step up to HE’ Certificate. This qualifies you for entry onto:

  • Year 1 of a degree course
  • Or you can count the credits towards a Foundation Year programme at one of our associated colleges.

Course dates and attendance

Attendance is required on a Monday and Tuesday, 10am-2pm.

We have course intakes taking place on the following the dates:

  • Monday 23rd September 2019 – Tuesday 3rd December 2019
  • Monday 13th January 2020 – Tuesday 24th March 2020
  • Monday 20th April 2019 – Tuesday 30th June 2020


Support and guidance is central to preparing students for university in the Step Up to HE course. Each student receives professional information, advice and guidance around applying to university via UCAS and writing that all-important personal statement. In addition, students are supported through the Student Finance application process. If you are unsure on where or how to begin your journey into university, Step Up is the perfect starting point.

Fees and finance

The course is free of charge for students progressing on to study at Staffordshire University and our associated partner colleges.

Course content

The course is taught by friendly and experienced tutors including subject-specialist academic staff, study skills tutors, library and IT specialists, ensuring that you develop the key skills needed for HE. Within your first week, you will be assigned a personal tutor who will nurture you, provide feedback and develop your academic skills throughout the programme. The course leader for the Step Up to HE programme will be your main personal contact throughout, helping you find your feet and offering guidance and advice on future study routes that may be open to you.

The certificate course consists of two separate modules which are designed to introduce you to a variety of skills and provide a firm academic foundation to build on.

Module 1: Skills Review and Development

This module will introduce you as a learner to key themes such as reflection, communication, critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving among others. During this module you will also find out how to carry out library research effectively, which is invaluable for independent learning. This introductory module will direct you to the concept of linking theory to practice while developing your confidence and self-awareness as learner. In terms of assessment, you will be supported in writing a 1,500-word self-reflective assignment which will develop your writing skills for university-level study. You will also be supported and guided on the effective use of IT in a digitally focused higher education environment.

Module 2: Subject Choice

Within this module, you will refine and polish the skills you have already learned within Module 1. You will be introduced to a variety of workshops and seminars on the development of your grammar, punctuation, essay structure and presentation. In terms of assessment, you will write a 1,000 word assignment on a topic category of your choice alongside a 500 word self-skills audit. On this module you will also start to underpin the critical thinking and objective writing skills that will help you to progress on to university-level study.

Throughout the programme, students will be able to attend timetabled assignment support sessions. There you’ll get one-to-one support, feedback and feedforward opportunities with experienced course tutors; these sessions will consistently improve and develop your academic skillset and confidence to succeed within an HE setting.  

Entry requirements

Applicants must be able to demonstrate written English equivalent to ESOL level 2.

We value your experience as well as formal qualifications, so our entrance requirements are flexible. You may have qualifications including CSEs, O Levels and GCSEs – or you may have a range of work-based, or other, skills and achievements. We particularly value life experience and anyone who is interested in coming on the course is invited to enquire and contact us at

Employment opportunities

This programme is very successful in supporting individuals to achieve their future goals. Many learners who have successfully completed the Step Up to HE Certificate move onto a wide range of degree courses at the University. Examples of the subject areas now being studied by Step Up to HE learners include photography, history, law, business.

Meet the experts

You will be taught by an expert teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes senior academics and professional practitioners with industry experience. 

Student experience

Read more stories on our Step Up student blogs

“Step up to HE provided me with vital study skills which included how to write an essay and how to use the library facilities which I found invaluable for my first year at university.” - Claire, BA (Hons) Drama Performance and Theatre Arts

“I have gained so much from Step up to HE it’s given me everything I need to get to the next step.”- Vicky, BA (Hons) Social Work

“Step Up made learning fun with enthusiastic tutors in a super-supportive environment. The programme helped me to build my confidence and provided me with the skills I needed to succeed as a student.” - Sophie, BA (Hons) Social Welfare Law, Policy and Advice Practice

Have you also considered?

The Creative Communities Unit also offer a range of short courses for those interested in working in the voluntary sector. Visit the CCU Website


Enquiries Team
Cadman Information Point
College Road
United Kingdom
t: +44(0)1782 294400
Enquire about this course