SWAP Access to Nursing SCQF 6 (Online Virtual Classroom)

What is special about this course?

SWAP Access to Nursing is the perfect course for individuals aspiring to pursue a career in nursing or care but lack the necessary qualifications.

Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP) are designed for adults who have few or no formal qualifications and who have been out of full-time education for at least three years (five years if you have Highers or an HN). It prepares adult returners for entry into Higher Education and can lead to a place at college or university.

The curriculum covers essential subjects relevant to nursing and care professions, including principles underpinning National Occupational Standards and Health and Social Care Standards. Emphasis is placed on cultivating a strong ethical value base essential for care workers.

SWAP nursing programmes lead on to degree programmes in Adult Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, and Learning Disabilities Nursing at partner Scottish universities.  

The following universities will consider applications from SWAP Access to Nursing students to their degree programmes:

More information on progression routes including degrees, entry requirements and universities can be found using the SWAP progression route search on the SWAP website.

Please note that this course will not give you access to Midwifery.

Entry requirements

  • You don't normally need any formal qualifications to apply for a SWAP access programme. Adult returners often have valuable skills and knowledge obtained through employment or personal experience and this is taken into account.

    A SWAP programme could be for you if:

  • you don't have any qualifications above SCQF level 5 (Standard Grade, Int 2, GCSE or equivalent) and have been out of full-time education for at least 3 years;  OR
  • you already have qualifications at SCQF level 6 or higher (Highers, A Levels, HN) and have been out of full-time education for at least 5 years;
  • you are able commit to college on a full-time basis (around 18-20 hours per week);
  • you aim to progress to study at university or to college to do an HNC/D.
  • Non-eligibility factors

  • Adults who do not have pre-settled or settled status/indefinite leave to remain in the UK would not normally be eligible. International students are not eligible.

  • Students who have already successfully completed a SWAP programme are not normally eligible. 

  • Students who already hold a university degree (Ordinary or Honours) are NOT eligible.
  • Students who have previously studied at university, but did not complete their degree due to illness or personal circumstances, may be considered but the SWAP Office should be contacted for guidance on this before applying to college.
  •  Students from the rest of the UK not currently living in Scotland must contact SWAP before applying, to discuss eligibility

  • Preparation for higher education
  • Understanding of Mental Health and Mental Illness
  • Health Promotion
  • Care: Human Development and Behaviour  
  • Care: Social Influences
  • Care: Values & Principles  
  • Physiology and Health
  • Prevention of Infection
  • Introduction to Basic First Aid
  • The Human Body


Internet connection and a suitable device with headphones, microphone and camera (minimum spec) is required. Please email us if you have any concerns about connectivity or equipment.

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time
  • Online

Each week will be a combination of timetabled and self-directed study. Timetabled classes will take place in an online virtual classroom and will include a combination of video conferencing, interactive chat and sharing of presentation slides and other visuals. Online classrooms provide you with real-time interaction, contact and discussion with your lecturer and fellow students. Some flexible self-directed study is required every week, but you can choose when to complete this learning to fit around work, caring and personal commitments. 

We have nineteen college campuses/centres across the North and West Highlands, Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Depending on your location, you may be able to do some of your learning at your nearest campus or centre.

You will be assessed through a combination of practical tasks and open and closed-book assessments throughout the year. You may have to attend a college centre or other exam centre for some of these – we can discuss this with you on application.

How long will my course last?

34 Weeks

Where can I study my course?

    • Study from anywhere including your local campus or centre

Start date



Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


Students may qualify for bursary, EMA or childcare funding. Please contact your local college centre or Student Services for more information.

What can I do on completion of my course?

The following universities will consider applications from SWAP Access to Nursing students to their degree programmes:

Edinburgh Napier University

Glasgow Caledonian University

Robert Gordon University

University of the Highlands and Islands

University of the West of Scotland

Visit SWAP to find out more about your course progression options

Is there more information available online?

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The SWAP course has enabled me to get back into education after 13 years. It has allowed me to gain the qualifications to go further into the field of Nursing and has also set me up to use my abilities to apply myself to a university degree. I have really enjoyed studying; it has given me a focus and taken me a step further towards becoming a nurse. I have enjoyed being involved with the classes, feeling a sense of achievement from completing course work and being supported by the wonderful college team. I would highly recommend the SWAP course. It is a package to help you into the career you want. It will refocus your abilities to prove to yourself that you can achieve your goals. The most important thing for me was proving to myself that I am capable if I put my mind to it, and that it’s never too late to apply yourself. This course was a crucial part of my career path. I plan to go on to university to study Adult Nursing.

Robert MacNeil  

Apply for SWAP Access to Nursing SCQF 6 (Online Virtual Classroom)

I want to start in 2024/25

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at UHI North, West and Hebrides. UHI North, West and Hebrides operates a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion and/or belief, sex, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.