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Public Services – BTEC Level 3 Diploma

If you want to pursue a career in a Public Service or continue your education to an A-level standard, consider this course. Uniformed Services include Army, Royal Navy, RAF, Royal Marines, Police, Fire, Ambulance, Prisons and more. Students may also go on to join non-uniformed public services such as the local government or police civilian staff. The advantage of this 12-unit certificate (equivalent to two A-levels), is that alongside it you may take an AS level (if you have at least five GCSEs A* -C passes, with at least two at grade B and three at grade C), or resit GCSE English or Mathematics at South Downs College. It is also less academically intensive than studying a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma, as there are fewer units.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grade C or above, including Mathematics or English Language and preferably Science.

If you are re-applying to South Downs College, you must have completed an appropriate Level 2 Diploma, with a Distinction profile and a good report from your Tutor.

Course Content

The subjects covered on this course cover how the services operate, social studies and practical units. You complete 12 units over two years, with all students will study the following four core units:

Year 1
  • Government Policies and the Public Services
  • Leadership and Teamwork in the Public Services
  • Citizenship
  • Diversity and the Public Services.


Year 2
  • Understanding Discipline in the Public Services.
  • Specialist units, which may include; Crime and its Effects on Society, Water-Based Activities, Expedition Skills, Communications in the Public Services.In addition, you will develop essential skills in Communications and IT.

There may be the opportunity for students to achieve additional qualifications in other areas, such as;

  • First Aid
  • NCS National Citizen Scheme
  • Kayaking
  • Stewarding
  • Volunteering
  • Mountain Biking
  • Self Defence
  • A range of other subjects.
How will I be taught?

Most learning will be classroom based. However, there is a practical emphasis on many units.

External visits, professional speakers and opportunities to interact with sections of the Public Services are incorporated, when available.

Coursework can take approximately 6-8 hours of private/home study a week.

How will I be assessed?

There will normally be one to four pieces of coursework (written or practical) for each unit.

Each unit is awarded either a Pass, Merit or Distinction grade. The certificate will be graded overall, depending on individual unit results.

Will I need any extra equipment?

On the days students have practical sessions, you must bring sports kit. This includes a white t-shirt, navy or black tracksuit bottoms or shorts, and trainers.

Outdoor and sports clothing will be required for certain activities, and possible overseas residentials; advice will be given on what items of clothing are necessary, and certain items can be borrowed from the College.

Finally, students will be expected to purchase items of uniform (e.g. grey hoodie, t-shirt and combat trousers), which will be worn on uniform days at Fort Purbrook and when on visits and trips.

What qualifications will I get?

Upon successful completion of the first year, students will attain a Subsidiary Diploma in Public Services, which is the equivalent to one A-level.

Successful students will gain a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Public Services (Uniformed Services).

If a student does not achieve the appropriate units by the end of the course, a Certificate of Achievement is awarded instead.

What will it allow me to do in the future?

This course does not guarantee entry into any public service careers. All applicants will still need to complete the normal entry procedures, in competition with applicants from other backgrounds. However, this course will give you a good understanding of your chosen service, and develop the skills and knowledge needed for a strong application.

Successful completion of this course will earn you up to 240 UCAS points. The BTEC Level 3 is equivilent to two to three A-levels.   From here, you can apply directly to university. For example, South Downs College runs a HND Higher National Diploma in Public Services. A wide range of other degrees are available in areas such as Social Studies, Law, Leisure, Sport, Criminology, Forensics and more.

There is also the opportunity to study a Level 3 NVQ in Event Security, in association with the Peter Ashley Centre and Havant & Waterlooville Football Club at South Downs College.  This will help assist your progression into employment.

Course Information

Students are given the opportunity to join South Downs College’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Not only is this fun, but it can also lead to further qualifications and experience relevant to armed forces life.

Work experience may also be a requirement of your course. This could involve a DBS check, for which there will be a cost.

Students with medical conditions who are considering a public service career, should check online for the entry requirements.

There may be a small charge for some activities, such as local visits and outdoor activities. Financial assistance may be available for some students.

Further Information

For further advice or guidance please contact Reception on free phone 0800 056 0511.

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