Access to
Medical & Life Sciences (SWAP) SCQF Level 6

An intensive one-year programme in preparation for study at a higher level.


Why take this course?

This is an intensive course which aims to prepare you academically, and to give you the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence you need, for entry into university or HNC/D courses.

As well as providing a sound grounding in the theoretical basis of medical and life sciences, the course contains a significant amount of stimulating practical activities. Much of the practical work will be of direct relevance to local interests, industries or topical issues, and will ensure you acquire a broad base of laboratory knowledge and expertise.

More information on SWAP at NESCol.

What you will experience

This will be an intensive programme which in the space of one year can take you from having no formal science qualifications to being able to commence HNC/D or degree level study.

The course will be delivered in a small group setting which will ensure a large amount of individual support can be provided. Most science classes will take part in dual purpose laboratory/classrooms which will allow practical and theory to be delivered in a combined fashion assisting learning and skills development. You will experience laboratories which are equipped to an excellent standard, with a wide range of modern instrumentation.

The course will make heavy use of online and interactive learning materials delivered via the College’s Virtual Learning Environment, which can be accessed outwith the College.

This programme will include:

  • Core skills units in communications and IT.
  • Academic units in as biology, human biology, microbiology, chemistry, maths and statistics, or biotechnology.
  • Preparation for Higher Education. Alongside academic units, you will work through a variety of personal development and study skills materials aimed at helping you develop the skills and confidence you will need to succeed at university level study.

At the end of the programme each student is awarded a SWAP profile grading ranging from AAA-DDD. These grades are a reflection of your performance in each of the main science subjects (Maths, Biology and Chemistry) throughout the year.

student working in a science lab

Key facts

Mode of study
Subject area
View the full course specification PDF, 85KB

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for the course, however, you must be able to demonstrate a high level of commitment and motivation. All applicants will have a personal interview and you will be advised of the most appropriate pathway. You may be required to take a Maths/English skills test to gain entry onto the course.

A SWAP programme could be for you if:

  • you don't have any qualifications above SCQF level 5 (Standard Grade, Intermediate 2 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, HN or equivalent) and have been out of full-time education for at least 5 years.

Although you are permitted to undertake a science course such as NC in Applied Sciences (SCQF Level 5) in preparation for the SWAP programme the following session.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, please view the specific English language requirements for this course.

What you need to know

Additional costs

You will require a scientific calculator. You will also be required to bring a laptop to classes. However if you are eligible for a full bursary for the course then this will be paid for from the bursary fund.

Next steps


At North East Scotland College

On successful completion of this course, you can progress to the following course at North East Scotland College:

At University

Successful completion of this course will allow you to apply for a wide range of degree programmes at a number of partner universities — visit the SWAP website for more information. Partner universities include:


Employment opportunities at Apprentice Laboratory Technician level may be possible.

The following infographic provides information on current and projected employment trends in this sector, within Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire. Follow the link on the infographic to view a larger image.

Infographic detailing current and projected employment trends in this sector, within Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire


This course is currently unavailable. Please contact the Student Advice Centre for more information.

If you take up a place on a College course, at the start of the course you will be asked to sign an enrolment form. In signing the form and/or taking up a place on a College course, you will enter into a contract with the College and be bound by the North East Scotland College Standard Terms and Conditions of Study. Copies of the Terms and Conditions are available for inspection on notice boards and at various locations throughout the College, at the College Reception, on the College website:, or can be obtained on request from the Student Funding and Admissions Manager, North East Scotland College, Aberdeen City Campus, Gallowgate, Aberdeen AB25 1BN. Please note that courses are offered subject to (a) there being sufficient numbers of enrolments and (b) the availability of resources. The College reserves its right (i) not to run courses where the number of students is considered insufficient or where resources are unavailable and (ii) in certain circumstances, to refuse admission to an individual applicant.