Best way to obtain further education, to gain access onto a neuroscience degree?

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MommaDuck
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So first of all, I'll explain my current situation. I'm 19 and at the moment I am doing an apprenticeship with Ford in light vehicle maintenance and repair (mechanics) - I get my level 2 in December , and my level 3 February 2021.

However through my experience, it has become apparent to me that I no longer want a career in Mechanics. I still have a passion for cars, engines, and fixing things - but it's not an industry that I wish to continue investing my time in, for various reasons that are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Despite this, I think that at the very least, it would be best to obtain my level 2 before I leave.

I've now decided that I want to work towards a degree in Neuroscience (or possibly bio-chemistry?), however I did not complete my A levels, and still have not obtained a level 3. Despite this, I have a very good set of GCSE results 9 A grades (Maths, English, Triple Science, Psychology). Ideally, I'd like to begin studying for the degree by September.

I recently enrolled at a few colleges to start an access course, but they all start this month (September) and I think it would be unwise to leave my apprenticeship before I get my first qualification - unfortunately neither colleges that I have gone to offer any January start dates.

So to finally get onto my question: without being able to physically attend a further education college, what is my best pathway into a good university?

I assume the answer is some form of distance-learning, but I have no idea how any of it works. At first I was sceptical about how practical it all is, and how respected the actual qualifications are - but it seems that it is all legit, tried, and tested. It would also give me a massive advantage in obtaining my level 2 in mechanics before leaving my apprenticeship due to the nature of its flexibility.

However I went onto the Open University website, and the sheer amount of courses intimidated me. There were certificates, diplomas, access courses etc. and I couldn't really tell what ones I should be looking at, to suit my particular interests. I also understand that you can do A-Levels via other distance learning education providers, and now I really don't know what's best for me. I know an access course is the typical best route into University if you don't have A levels, but would it be better to obtain one of the diplomas/certificates OU offer?

I've looked at a few University's entry requirements, and they mostly want Biology, and AAA. The access course I was going to do was Social Science and Health (Sociology, Psychology, and Biology), but even that probably wouldn't have been the best choice. I don't really know what the best Access course would be - Triple Science? Human Health? I think the 3 key areas needed would probably be Biology, Chemistry, and possibly some Psychology?

I'm just really confused at the minute, and struggling to envision a clear pathway to starting to work towards getting the degree in Neuroscience that I want. I'd really appreciate if anyone who: has been in a similar situation as me; has studied via distance-learning; or is currently doing a neuroscience degree could help clarify some of my questions for me.... Sorry for the really long winded post.
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claireestelle
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(Original post by MommaDuck)
So first of all, I'll explain my current situation. I'm 19 and at the moment I am doing an apprenticeship with Ford in light vehicle maintenance and repair (mechanics) - I get my level 2 in December , and my level 3 February 2021.

However through my experience, it has become apparent to me that I no longer want a career in Mechanics. I still have a passion for cars, engines, and fixing things - but it's not an industry that I wish to continue investing my time in, for various reasons that are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Despite this, I think that at the very least, it would be best to obtain my level 2 before I leave.

I've now decided that I want to work towards a degree in Neuroscience (or possibly bio-chemistry?), however I did not complete my A levels, and still have not obtained a level 3. Despite this, I have a very good set of GCSE results 9 A grades (Maths, English, Triple Science, Psychology). Ideally, I'd like to begin studying for the degree by September.

I recently enrolled at a few colleges to start an access course, but they all start this month (September) and I think it would be unwise to leave my apprenticeship before I get my first qualification - unfortunately neither colleges that I have gone to offer any January start dates.

So to finally get onto my question: without being able to physically attend a further education college, what is my best pathway into a good university?

I assume the answer is some form of distance-learning, but I have no idea how any of it works. At first I was sceptical about how practical it all is, and how respected the actual qualifications are - but it seems that it is all legit, tried, and tested. It would also give me a massive advantage in obtaining my level 2 in mechanics before leaving my apprenticeship due to the nature of its flexibility.

However I went onto the Open University website, and the sheer amount of courses intimidated me. There were certificates, diplomas, access courses etc. and I couldn't really tell what ones I should be looking at, to suit my particular interests. I also understand that you can do A-Levels via other distance learning education providers, and now I really don't know what's best for me. I know an access course is the typical best route into University if you don't have A levels, but would it be better to obtain one of the diplomas/certificates OU offer?

I've looked at a few University's entry requirements, and they mostly want Biology, and AAA. The access course I was going to do was Social Science and Health (Sociology, Psychology, and Biology), but even that probably wouldn't have been the best choice. I don't really know what the best Access course would be - Triple Science? Human Health? I think the 3 key areas needed would probably be Biology, Chemistry, and possibly some Psychology?

I'm just really confused at the minute, and struggling to envision a clear pathway to starting to work towards getting the degree in Neuroscience that I want. I'd really appreciate if anyone who: has been in a similar situation as me; has studied via distance-learning; or is currently doing a neuroscience degree could help clarify some of my questions for me.... Sorry for the really long winded post.
you could self teach the a levels but you'd need somewhere to do the practical. Health sciences or combined stem are the closest thing to neuroscience at open uni but there aren't much neuroscience. if you do an access course it needs to have chemistry and biology in credits in it but you may still end up needing to do a foundation year after that.
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MommaDuck
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(Original post by claireestelle)
you could self teach the a levels but you'd need somewhere to do the practical. Health sciences or combined stem are the closest thing to neuroscience at open uni but there aren't much neuroscience. if you do an access course it needs to have chemistry and biology in credits in it but you may still end up needing to do a foundation year after that.
So you think that after doing an access course with OU I'd still have to do a foundation course afterwards? would this be the case with any access course?
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claireestelle
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(Original post by MommaDuck)
So you think that after doing an access course with OU I'd still have to do a foundation course afterwards? would this be the case with any access course?
Ou Access courses aren't widely accepted so yes I think you would, not necessarily other types of Access courses though.
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MommaDuck
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(Original post by claireestelle)
Ou Access courses aren't widely accepted so yes I think you would, not necessarily other types of Access courses though.
Do you think that the certificate of Higher Education would be better then?
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2500_2
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(Original post by MommaDuck)
Do you think that the certificate of Higher Education would be better then?
I think you need an Access to HE diploma in sciences or biological sciences. That would be suitable for Sussex's neuroscience.
Can I suggest before you go much further you go to an open day or two and talk to the tutors? Because it's such a new subject, courses can be quite different.
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claireestelle
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(Original post by MommaDuck)
Do you think that the certificate of Higher Education would be better then?
it coulld be, but check with the universities you're interested in
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Nununu
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A certificate of Higher Education is equivalent to first year of university. No point doing that *and* first year of uni.

I think you might be better off waiting till next year to do an access course, and then applying for Neuroscience BSc or Biochem if that is what you want to do. Also if you do an Access to Science cousrse it will leave your options open.

If u want to study Biochem or Neuroscience or another life science course then I dont think an Acces to social care would be acceptable at most unis. It would have to be access to science or access to biomedical science.

There really isnt much Neuroscience in the open uni modules until like the third year.

Hope this helps.

T
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Nununu
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Also even if a Neuroscience BSc doesn't ask for it I would highly recommend doing an access course that has both Biology *and* chemistry units.

The reason being is that most good life science BSc have molecular or chemistry units within the first year modules.
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SuperCat007
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It seems quite a bit leap, so it might be worth looking at some BBC bitesize science, Coursera science courses to see if that's really what you want to do.

As others have said OU Access courses aren't Access to HE so you can't use them as entry to a uni. Also you really need to be looking at Access to Science rather than any social science courses, unless your neuroscience is heavily psychology based.

OU don't offer neuroscience, but there is Natural Sciences, STEM, Healthcare and Psychology. Of those I'd say the Nat Sci biology route best fits what you are describing, it has the option to take some psychology based modules which focus on neuroscience later on in the degree.

But think very carefully about what you want to do afterwards as well. You don't want to get 2 years in and decide to do something different if you can help it.
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Nununu
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(Original post by SuperCat007)
It seems quite a bit leap, so it might be worth looking at some BBC bitesize science, Coursera science courses to see if that's really what you want to do.

As others have said OU Access courses aren't Access to HE so you can't use them as entry to a uni. Also you really need to be looking at Access to Science rather than any social science courses, unless your neuroscience is heavily psychology based.

OU don't offer neuroscience, but there is Natural Sciences, STEM, Healthcare and Psychology. Of those I'd say the Nat Sci biology route best fits what you are describing, it has the option to take some psychology based modules which focus on neuroscience later on in the degree.

But think very carefully about what you want to do afterwards as well. You don't want to get 2 years in and decide to do something different if you can help it.
Apart from senses and signals what other neuroscience modules are there?
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MommaDuck
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(Original post by SuperCat007)
It seems quite a bit leap, so it might be worth looking at some BBC bitesize science, Coursera science courses to see if that's really what you want to do.

As others have said OU Access courses aren't Access to HE so you can't use them as entry to a uni. Also you really need to be looking at Access to Science rather than any social science courses, unless your neuroscience is heavily psychology based.
The main reason I haven't already completed my further education is because I was always so picky about what I wanted to study - not because I didn't like any of the subjects, but because I honestly just love to learn about everything and sixth form kind of took the fun away from learning for me because I felt restricted and far too exam focused. I got 10 As at GCSE and (without trying to sound too arrogant) consider myself more confident than the average individual in my capabilities. I have naturally gravitated towards neuroscience as it has become a more and more recurring theme in my own personal interests.

Anyway I have contacted Uni of Birmingham to ask them about their entry requirements already, however until they get back to me, do you think an access to HE in medicine or the biological sciences would be better?

Medicine has a more bio-chemical focus, whereas the Biological sciences omits the Bio-chemistry, and contains more credits within biology.

Majority of Neuroscience degree entry requirements that I have seen ask for Biology and 1 other subject - now the Medicine Access appeals to me more and I would think it is the more practical/suitable choice, however the only thing putting me off is that there are less credits for Biology in the Access to Medicine - and Biology is the main requirement for the course.

The split for medicine is: 21 Bio, 24 Chem, 9 physics, and 3 in an intro to Psychology.

Biomedical science is: 30 Bio, 15 Chem, 15 Physics.

I'd appreciate if anyone could offer their input, thanks
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SuperCat007
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(Original post by MommaDuck)
The main reason I haven't already completed my further education is because I was always so picky about what I wanted to study - not because I didn't like any of the subjects, but because I honestly just love to learn about everything and sixth form kind of took the fun away from learning for me because I felt restricted and far too exam focused. I got 10 As at GCSE and (without trying to sound too arrogant) consider myself more confident than the average individual in my capabilities. I have naturally gravitated towards neuroscience as it has become a more and more recurring theme in my own personal interests.

Anyway I have contacted Uni of Birmingham to ask them about their entry requirements already, however until they get back to me, do you think an access to HE in medicine or the biological sciences would be better?

Medicine has a more bio-chemical focus, whereas the Biological sciences omits the Bio-chemistry, and contains more credits within biology.

Majority of Neuroscience degree entry requirements that I have seen ask for Biology and 1 other subject - now the Medicine Access appeals to me more and I would think it is the more practical/suitable choice, however the only thing putting me off is that there are less credits for Biology in the Access to Medicine - and Biology is the main requirement for the course.

The split for medicine is: 21 Bio, 24 Chem, 9 physics, and 3 in an intro to Psychology.

Biomedical science is: 30 Bio, 15 Chem, 15 Physics.

I'd appreciate if anyone could offer their input, thanks
A lot of universities include Access courses in their entry criteria published on their websites alongside A-levels etc. If not then again it would be best to discuss this with any universities you want to apply to. This way you ensure you are doing the correct combination of credits to make your application the most successful it can be.
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