What is this subject about?

The BTEC National Extended Certificate and Diploma have a varied content and are aimed at providing students with the knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to careers in health care and social care. Students who wish to pursue a career in the Early Years’ sector can also study this course as the content in the unit on “Human Lifespan Development” covers development in children. Visits, case studies and input from visiting speakers form an important part of the course, giving students an opportunity to understand what is being studied in relation to real care settings. Both courses are two year courses and the BTEC National Extended Certificate is equivalent to one A Level whilst the National Diploma is equivalent to two A Levels.

Units covered

The Extended Certificate course will consist of the following units:

  • Human Lifespan Development
  • Working in Health and Social Care
  • Meeting Individual Care and Support Needs
  • Physiological Disorders and their care

On the Diploma course you study all of the units listed above and in addition you also study the following units:

  • Enquiries into Current Research in Health and Social Care
  • Principles of Safe Practice in Health and Social Care
  • Promoting Public Health
  • Sociological Perspectives

What will I study in the first year?

In the first year of the Extended Certificate course, you study the unit ‘Human Lifespan Development’ which covers physical, intellectual, emotional and social development across the human lifespan, and the factors affecting development and the effects of aging. This unit gives you a knowledge base for working with people in every stage of their lives, from birth to old age. You will also study a unit on ‘Physiological Disorders and their Care’ which develops your understanding of the types, causes, diagnosis and the treatment of physiological disorders including provision of support.

Students studying the Diploma course will be taught the two units described plus ‘Working in Health and Social Care’ and ‘Promoting Public Health’. The former involves learning about the roles and responsibilities of care organisations including those that regulate and inspect health and social care services. The latter is about protecting and improving the health of the population through public health policy and current approaches in health promotion.

What will I study in the second year?

In the second year of the Extended Certificate and Diploma courses you will study a unit on ‘Working in Health and Social Care’ which involves learning about the roles and responsibilities of care organisations including those that regulate and inspect health and social care services. You will also study, ‘Meeting Individual Care and Support Needs’ which is learning about the values and skills that are required when caring for people.

The Diploma students also add ‘Enquiries into Current Research in Health and Social Care’ where you learn about research methods and the implications for health and social care practice and services. You will also study, ‘Sociological Perspectives’ where you learn about how sociological concepts and perspectives, such as socialisation and social class are applied to health and social care.

How are the courses assessed?

Both Diploma and Extended Certificate courses are assessed predominantly through coursework assignments. Students are guided on how to complete each assignment. The assessment format also includes externally set written tests.

What skills will I need and develop for these courses?

The skills that are of most help through the course are good organisation and the ability to work independently, and good communication skills. As the course progresses you develop and strengthen skills in working in a group, in conducting presentations, in analysis, in evaluating and in referencing.


What can these courses lead to in terms of higher education and future careers?

Students who have studied these courses can progress to university for a wide variety of courses including Occupational Therapy, Nursing, Midwifery, Primary Teaching, Early Childhood Studies and Social Work. Other students have gone straight into employment in a variety of fields related to the course – for example, going on to work as Nursery Assistants or Care Assistants or to join the Ambulance Service.

Entry Requirements

What are the formal entry requirements for this course?

In addition to the College’s general entry requirements you will need to have a minimum of a grade 4 in GCSE English Language. If you are looking towards Primary Teaching, Nursing or Midwifery, grade 4 in GCSE Maths and grade 4 in GCSE Science are also important.

Equally important is that you need to be interested in and committed to working with people and understanding and caring for them. A genuine interest in looking after people at critical and sometimes tricky stages of their lives is at the heart of these courses.

Extra Support

What extra support/enrichment activities are on offer?

Many students on these courses take part in the College’s Community Volunteers or School Mentoring programmes. These involve assisting in a local nursery or school or day-centre on a weekly basis for two terms. It is our expectation that students studying the Diploma course will participate in two weeks of work experience at the end of the first year of the course. As part of the unit on Promoting Public Health, you will work with health professionals in planning and implementing a health campaign for the College’s Health Fair for students.

There may also be an opportunity to take part in simulated Clinical Skills sessions at Kingston University. In addition the department provides support in terms of guidance on careers, including support with personal statements and mock interviews.

Subject combination advice

Subject Combination advice:

The Diploma course is equivalent to 2 A Levels in terms of class hours and UCAS points. The Extended Certifi cate course is equivalent to 1 A Level in terms of class hours and UCAS points.

Health and Social Care is therefore not a complete programme in itself and you will take other courses alongside it. Courses which are commonly taken alongside it and combine well in supporting it include Sociology, Psychology, Biology, Geography, History, English Language, Physical Education and BTEC Applied Science.

Is it a good idea to study Diploma or Extended Certificate in Health and Social Care alongside other BTEC courses?

Taking a programme consisting predominantly of coursework based courses is demanding in relation to the sheer volume of assignments and deadlines you would be managing, but it may be the right thing to do in particular circumstances. Including one or more A Level courses in your programme in order to develop your skills in (for example) essay writing is helpful for progression on to study at a higher level afterwards.