Monthly Archives: March 2009

Q&A: Nursing degree and diploma – the differences?


Choices adviser Shona McQuillan answers some frequently asked questions about two of Birmingham City University’s popular undergraduate nursing programmes.

What’s the main difference between the nursing degree (BSc Hons) and diploma (Dip HE) courses?

The main difference between the courses is the academic level at which students complete their studies. Students on the diploma course complete a total of 72 credits at level 4 and 168 credits at level 5 throughout the course. Degree students complete 120 credits in each year of the course, studying at level 4 in year one, level 5 in year two and level 6 in year three. The degree course, therefore, is more academically intensive than the diploma course. This is reflected in the degree requiring students to have higher entry qualifications than for the diploma. Find out more about the minimum entry requirements for both courses by clicking on the course titles here.

Is the diploma course more practical than the degree?

Not really. Both courses consist of 50 percent theory and 50 percent practice. Continue reading Q&A: Nursing degree and diploma – the differences?

Foundation courses in art and design

One of the questions we are most commonly asked by students who are thinking of applying for an art and design degree is ‘Do I need to complete a foundation course?’

There is now a wide, and often confusing, range of qualifications available to students preparing for entry onto degree level courses in art and design.  These include BTEC qualifications and AVCE double awards as well as A levels so a Foundation course is no longer the only route to degree level study.  However, many successful applicants do still take the Foundation course route and in many cases this remains the most widely preferred route to degree level study in Art and Design. 

In the experience of university admissons tutors, students who have completed a Foundation course are often equipped with better practical skills, more design maturity and a stronger portfolio than some other applicants.  This can give applicants from Foundation course the edge over other applicants who are applying with A levels alone.  It is worth bearing this in mind if you are applying for a very popular or oversubscribed course where there is intense competition for places.

Here at Birmingham City University we take on students with BTEC National Diploma qualifications, students who have followed the Foundation course route and also sometimes students who have developed a strong portfolio from A level or AVCE qualifications alone.  Applicants are considered on an individual basis and the admissions tutor will look at the strength of an applicant’s portfolio along with other indicators of their suitability for the course including their previous education and experience in art and design. 

Will a Foundation course in art and design be suitable for me?

Foundation courses in art and design are suitable who have already completed A level or AS level study in Art and Design.  They are also suitable for mature students with more limited experience in art and design.

What will I learn on a foundation course?

You can expect to learn through a structured programme of activities, workshops and drawing classes.  This will help you to identify your skills, strengths and interest.

A good Foundation course should be lively, stimulating and enjoyable.

Continue reading Foundation courses in art and design

Student Finance

If you’re a home student planning on studying on a full- or part-time undergraduate course at university this September, you’ll need to apply for financial support to determine your eligibility and individual support package. Eligibility for certain elements of support is usually assessed on your household income, so it’s important that you apply for assessment well in advance of the course start date so that you are able to plan ahead.

Standard student support arrangements can include loans for fees and living costs and a maintenance grant*. For more information about funding for the 2009/10 academic year, visit the Direct website. 

You can apply online for student support at Student Finance Direct or download a form to complete. Further information is available from your Local Authority or by visiting Through this application you can be assessed for eligibility for tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and a maintenance grant. Many universities also offer a bursary to their students, with each university determining its own policy with regard to how bursary money is allocated to eligible students. You should contact individual institutions to enquire about their particular University Bursary arrangements.

For more information about fees and finance for Birmingham City University courses, please visit our website.

Students from EU countries can find out more about funding by visiting the section about funding for EU students on the website.

*Please note that those who will be studying on NHS-funded degree or diploma courses have different funding arrangements and are advised to consult for information about this.

How to… decide which offer to accept

So you’ve received offers on your application choices. For some the decision of which one to accept is easy, but what if you’re still unsure of which one to accept? Is there anything you can do to help you make this important decision?

Have you had the opportunity to visit the universities you’ve applied to yet? If not, then why not contact them to find out if there are open days or visit days that you can attend. These events often provide a useful means of finding out more about the course you’ve applied to and the university environment itself. If the universities you’ve applied to are in other cities to your hometown, it also gives you the chance to have a look round the area and get a feel for whether it is somewhere that you’d like to spend the next three or four years!

Do you have any questions about the course that you feel you really need to ask before making your decision? Admissions Tutors and advice staff within universities are ready to help prospective students who need further information and help and understand the complexities faced when making such an important, and potentially life-changing, decision. Contact them – they’re there to help you and can provide you with additional information that may help you to weigh up your options. Here at Birmingham City University, the Choices team are here to help. Call us on 0121 331 5595 or email