Step Up to Higher Education

Study options


University Foundation Certificate

Key facts

Stoke-on-Trent campus
Study option:
10 Weeks
Start date:
17 January 2022
25 April 2022

Get connected

Take advantage of our academics expertise

Pathway course

Progress onto a range of degrees at Staffordshire University

Tailored support

Increase confidence, knowledge and academic skills

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. This course has been specifically developed for pre-degree learners who are joining us on a range of our undergraduate level courses here at Staffordshire University.

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 successful completion of study, we will issue the following award: University Foundation Certificate Step Up to Higher Education

Part-time study

The course is studied part-time, 8 hours a week for 10 weeks.

Course content

This 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, advice and tuition on your learning development and possible future study routes that may be open to you.

This 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 will get one-to-one support, feedback opportunities with experienced course tutors; these sessions will improve and develop your academic skillset and confidence to succeed within an HE setting.  

Academic year

We have course intakes taking place on the following dates in 2021-22:

  • Monday 20 September 2021 – Tuesday 30 November 2021
  • Monday 17 January 2022 – Tuesday 29 March 2022
  • Monday 25 April 2022 – Tuesday 5 July 2022

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

James Moore - Step up to HE

James Moore - Step up to HE


With the help of Step Up, James was able to leave his job and get through his degree in almost half the time.

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 progressing on to the course is invited to enquire and contact us at

Staffs Uni to host Open House for mature learners


Staffs Uni is hosting a special Open House event for mature applicants where they can find out about courses available to start in September.



We have Libraries and Service desks at both sites in Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford. All have experienced and friendly staff who can answer your IT queries, help you to access resources, show you how to research for your assignments and even help with referencing.

Blackboard (VLE)

Blackboard is a virtual learning environment which houses your learning content.  It enables online teaching/learning, provides spaces to build online communities and knowledge sharing.

Digital Kiln

A modern social space for students based in Mellor Building. It's ideal for group work, creative ideas sessions and relaxation.


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 Staffordshire University. Examples of the subject areas now being studied by Step Up to HE learners include photography, history, law and business.

Step Up to Higher Education at Staffordshire University

Step Up to Higher Education at Staffordshire University


Advice on support available to prospective students

Teaching and assessment


Teaching approaches can include formal lectures, group work, tutorials/practical sessions, seminars, workshops, directed and self-managed study, and research projects. Each of these will be used on your modules so you get the chance to learn as effectively as possible.


There are two types of assessments: practice (also called formative) or formal (also called summative).

Practice assessments do not count towards your final mark. These are your chance to test your understanding and learn how to improve for the real thing.

Learning support

Your course tutors will provide lots of support. But you can also take advantage of our Academic Skills team, who can help you with:

  • Study skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)
  • Written English (including punctuation, grammar)
  • Academic writing (including how to reference)
  • Research skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Revision, assessment and exam skills (including time management)

Additional support

If you have additional needs like dyslexia or a sensory impairment, then our Student Inclusion Services are here to help make sure nothing stands in your way.


We know that it’s important for you to be able to gauge your progress. So, your tutor will give you feedback on any practice assessments you do.

We usually give you feedback on formal assessments within 20 working days, but the format will vary for each module.

Step Up to Higher Education Blog


Information, advice and inspirational stories for mature learners


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. 

Ashley Cotton

Step Up Programme Manager

Ashley's area of expertise at Staffordshire is working positively with a range of harder-to-reach learners in order to develop the core academic and learning skills-set to be successful within a university level environment whilst developing a s…

Ashley's profile


The course is free of charge for students progressing on to study at Staffordshire University and our associated partner colleges. Tailored and individualised guidance on Student Finance is available during the course to support students progressing onto undergraduate programmes at Staffordshire University.


Location Award Study option Start date Apply Link
Stoke-on-Trent campus University Foundation Certificate Part-time 17 January 2022 Apply now
Stoke-on-Trent campus University Foundation Certificate Part-time 25 April 2022 Apply now

Rules and regulations

If you are offered a place at Staffordshire University, your offer will be subject to our rules, regulations and enrolment conditions, which may vary from time to time.

Students of Staffordshire University enter into a contract with us and are bound by these rules and regulations, which are subject to change. For more information, please see: University Policies and Regulations.

Top 15 for Teaching Quality

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

6th for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Midlands University of the Year

Midlands Business Awards 2020