Course Overview

The Access Programme is a one year course that aims to provide School Leavers and Mature Students with the opportunity to prepare personally and academically, for an undergraduate course of full-time study of at least 3 years duration at St. Angela's College or NUI Galway.

The programme is designed to meet the learning needs of the student and provide individual attention and assistance where appropriate.  Participants who successfully complete the Access Programme receive a Diploma in Foundation Studies (Level 6 30 ECTs) from NUI Galway and are eligible to apply for direct entry via the CAO to full-time University degree courses across both camouses. In certain instances, interviews with the Department Head or School Head may also be required.

The aims of the course are to:

  • Prepare students with the necessary skills/knowledge required to benefit from, and participate in, a third level undergraduate course;
  • Build relationships with academic staff and other students;
  • Enhance students’ knowledge to the level expected of an undergraduate student;
  • Build students’ confidence in themselves and in their academic abilities and to get over any fears they may have about attending third level;
  • Assist students in identifying and choosing a third level course that best suits their abilities and interests.

Applications and Selections

Application details for 2021 available HERE 

Please note closing timeframe for 2021 applications:

  • Mature Applicants and School Leavers: 17th September 2021

Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

The criteria for successful completion of this programme involves satisfactory attendance and performance in all elements of the programme. Students’ academic progress is measured through a process of written and oral continuous assessment and examinations held at the end of each semester.

Personal (home) study is an integral and important part of the course.

Students also have the opportunity to attend some undergraduate lectures on campus, by arrangement.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

School Leavers (18-22 years): Students will normally have a minimum of two H4 and four O6 grades to demonstrate their ability to manage academically. Students cannot always be guaranteed entry at this level.  Students who have completed a post-leaving certificate course of study are eligible. Students must reside in the Border, Midlands, Western (BMW) region and meet the socio-economic criteria as set out by the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)

Mature Students(+22 years): There are no specific entry requirements, such as Leaving Certificate or aptitude tests, but typically candidates have a keen interest in reading and learning in general and aspire to continue their education to degree level and/or beyond. Mature students must come from socio-economic backgrounds under-represented in third-level education, reside in the Border, Midlands, Western (BMW) region and be eligible for the Government Free Fees Initiative and student maintenance grant

Previous academic or training experience desirable.

Additional Requirements


One year, part-time September to April.
2-3 days per week (10.00am-6.30pm)

Next start date

27th September 2021

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

Mature Applicants and School Leavers: 17th September 2021

NFQ level

Level 6 Equivalent (Internal Diploma)

Mode of study

ECTS weighting



Diploma in Foundation Studies


Course code

Course Outline

Students will study various modules throughout the programme to include core and taster modules.

Core Modules

  • Academic Study Skills
  • Academic Writing
  • Academic Technology (Information Communication Technology)
  • Engage: Skills for College and Career

Academic Study Skills
This module aims to motivate students to study and to organise their work.  It equips students with the skills needed to succeed at third level and prepare students for examinations.

Academic Writing
This module is designed to help students get into the practice of writing regularly and in the different styles necessary for third level study.  It also helps them with basic grammar and punctuation and how to formulate assignments properly.

Academic Technology (ICT)
The ICT module will give students the skills required to use database, spreadsheets, e-mail and internet and basic trouble shooting and file management.

Engage: Skills for College and Career
This module will help students to identify their skills, qualities and to build a personal profile.  They will discover how to source information and to investigate the courses on offer in St. Angela’s College and NUI Galway.  Individual appointments will be arranged so that the student can discuss possible courses/career options.

Taster Modules

• Home Economics • Chemistry         • Sociology          • Maths             
• Education • Physics • Politics • Philosophy
• Biology • Nursing • Economics  

Taster modules are introductory modules in a number of specific disciplines which will be taught depending on the demand for a particular subject. The aim of these options is to provide students with introductory University courses as a prelude to continuing their studies as undergraduates at St. Angela’s College, Sligo or NUI Galway.

Students will have to complete assignments, examinations and practical activities in the various modules.

Further Education

Participants who successfully complete the Access Programme will be eligible to apply for direct entry to fulltime University degree courses at St. Angela's College, Sligo or at NUI Galway. Please note there are restrictions on the number of places available and some courses may be competitive.  Courses have different entry criteria.

Undergraduate Courses include:

St. Angela’s College, Sligo

NUI Galway

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Commerce
  • Bachelor of Civil Law and Corporate Law
  • Bachelor of Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

The Access Programme prepares students for re-entry to either full-time or part-time education and prepares students for future employment through its educational guidance, study skills and information technology modules.

Who’s Suited to This Course

The Access Programme for School Leavers is a programme specifically designed for students who have a real desire to study at third level, but are unable due to financial and social reasons. This programme targets those students who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education but who for a variety of social and economic reasons, are underrepresented at third level.  Students should be highly motivated and interested in studying at undergraduate level in their chosen area. 

The kind of socio-economic reasons that are considered

  • Long-term unemployment
  • Low family income~
  • Little or no family tradition of progression onto higher education
  • Limited study facilities at home
  • Family stresses (particularly those related to family finance)

This programme is also suitable for students with disabilities, whose background education has been affected by long-term absenteeism due to their illness.

Learning Outcomes

Transferable Skills Employers Value

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU


Fees: Tuition


Fees: Student Contribution


Fees: Student levy


Fees: Non EU

Programme costs for those selected to attend the course are borne by NUI Galway, subject to sufficient funding being available.

Find out More

Diploma in Foundations Studies (Access Programme) Co-ordinators:

Philip White
Access Officer
T: +353(0)71 9195575

Sinead Dolan
Access Officer
T: +353(0)71 9195575