Health and Social Care Level 3 Vocational

This course prepares students to work in the NHS or other healthcare providers. The course includes a wide range of topics, including healthy diet and lifestyle, how people and society respond to poorly people and how we care for them, dealing with the care of young or old people and communicating effectively with deaf and blind patients. Students can opt for the Extended Diploma (equivalent to 3 A-levels over 2 years), or the Extended Certificate (equivalent to 1 A-level over 2 years). In year two of the Extended Diploma, you will choose whether you wish to take the “Care Pathway” or the “Health Pathway”. The Health Pathway is for those thinking about a career in nursing, and concentrates a bit more on biology. There are exams, as well as many other internally assessed units across both years, and you will also do a work placement.

Awarding Body

Available As

Ext Dip

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What will I study?

Units covered may vary, but a typical Extended Diploma programme would look like this:

Year 1:

Human Lifespan development

Working in HSC

Anatomy & Physiology

Promoting public health

Safe practice


Work experience


Year 2:

Research in HSC

Promoting public health

Mental well-being

Physiological Disorders

Nutritional Health

Plus two additional units (see 'options')


All Extended Diploma students follow the same programme in year 1.

At the end of year 1, students select whether they wish to follow a 'Health Studies' Pathway, which is intended for students wishing to enter the medical / health sector (eg a nurse, midwife etc) OR a 'Care Pathway', which is less specialised and is intended for students who wish to focus on Social Work or the Care Industry.  The majority of these two pathways is the same, but 2-3 units are specifically chosen by lecturers to help students progress into a career relevant to their aspirations.

Care Pathway (extended diploma only)

Optional Units may include:

Supporting Additional Needs

Children's development support needs

Health Pathway (extended diploma only)

Optional Units may include:

Scientific Techniques


How will I learn?

Each unit will contain taught material which is discussed and learnt in lectures in the classroom environment.  Students will need to take responsibility for preparing adequately for these lessons, and to follow up with consolidation in notes and answering questions.  Following preparation students will be given assignments (for internally assessed units) which should be completed in your own time, with guidance and support in your timetabled lessons.  Assignments may be longer written pieces of work, or may take the form of presentations.  Students will improve their skills at working independently as well as in teams / groups.  Deadlines are an important feature of BTEC assessment, and students will learn to manage their time, showing resilience and submitting work punctually.



How will I be assessed?

Assessment is specifically designed to fit the purpose and objective of the qualification. It includes a range of assessment types and styles suited to vocational qualifications in the sector. There are two main forms of assessment that you need to be aware of: external (exams / task), internal.

External Assessment

External assessments are examinations for the following units;

Unit 1—Human Lifespan Development

Unit 2—Working in Health and Social Care

and for the extended diploma:

Unit 3—Anatomy and Physiology for Health and Social Care

In addition there is a task in the unit 'Research in HSC) which is set under timed examination conditions.  This is an 'open book' style exam which you will prepare for in lessons, by writing summary and research notes which you will have available in the assessment.

Internally-assessed units

Most units in the qualification are internally assessed and subject to external standards verification.

In line with the requirements and guidance for internal assessment, you must include the most appropriate assessment styles according to the learning set out in the unit. Internal assessment is based upon coursework and is normally set by your class lecturer.

Are there any trips on this course?

Recent trips have included team building events, such as to 'Go Ape' in October, and a trip to a convention for disability in March.  Students also took a day off timetable to undertake team building activities in the sports hall at college.  Activities like this help to break up the academic focus of the course, allowing students to stress-bust and generate positivity and well-being.

Are there any extra costs?

Mandatory Costs (the majority paid at the start of the year):

Extended diploma approx. £15 per year (total £30) for course booklets.

DBS for work experience £44

Uniform for work experience; personalised t shirt £16 OR personalised tunic £20

Optional Costs:

HSC revision books £8 per book (total £16), optional

HSC has optional trips, at approx. £25 per trip

Are there any specific entry requirements?

No additional requirements beyond the college requirement to start a level 3 course, but you should be well organised, positive, tolerant of and sensitive to different social attitudes, and willing to work hard to meet deadlines.  Most of all you must be a caring and thoughtful individual.

What enrichment activities are offered?

As well as the enrichment trips there will be many visiting speakers who will visit HSC classes to discuss career options, university courses, and provide hands-on sessions using technology form the workplace.  We have ongoing liaison with Oxford Brookes University, University of the West of England, Hft, a specialist midwife for substance misuse and teenage pregnancy, Great Western Hospital, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Cirencester Hospital (where students frequently attend work experience) and Churn Young Neighbours.

What work experience opportunities are there?

Work experience is a compulsory part of the course and you will be given one day per week without lectures to accommodate this.  Students are expected to make their own arrangements for placements, which may be in hospitals, care homes, or other care settings.  A nursery or creche is not appropriate as a work placement setting for HSC.  Students will be expected to log hours and reflect on their experiences, completing a unit of study relating to their placement and skills.

Careers Information


Can I choose my placements?

You are allowed to have some choice over your placement within the sector decided by your lecturers. Most students choose a placement within their local area.

Do I need a uniform?

Yes; for work experience a personalised T-shirt or tunic is required (see 'course costs')

Are there exams?

Yes; three units in the Extended Diploma.  Exams are taken in January and/or May, and can be retaken if students are not successful in obtaining their target grade at the first attempt.

There is also a research task in the Extended Diploma, which culminates in an 'open book' assessment.

Can I choose my placements?

You are allowed to have some choice over your placement within the sector decided by your lecturers. Most students choose a placement within their local area.