Public Services

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma

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If you’re interested in a career in the Public Services or progressing to university, then this is the course for you.

You’ll study leadership and teamwork, physical preparation, understanding the impact of war/conflict and terrorism, Police powers, and volunteering in the Public Services. 

This programme is similar to our Level 3 Diploma, but has additional units in order to give you a broader experience. Among other things, you’ll be able to undertake placements with the National Citizenship Scheme and Combined Cadet Force, as well as self-organised volunteering and Duke of Edinburgh opportunities.

In addition, you’ll benefit from fieldtrips to places that include Parliament, the Imperial War Museum and Fort Purbrook.

A minimum of five GCSEs at grade C or above are required, including Maths or English at grade 4 or above and preferably Science.

On this course you will study 20 units (10 in each year).

Each unit aims to develop specialist public service related knowledge: how the public services work, social studies to give you an understanding of the environment they operate in and practical subjects to develop your fitness and understanding of the physical aspects required for each service. There is a range of both theory and practical units within the course and you will be expected to complete a portfolio of evidence based on the assignment work you are issued within your lessons.

In addition you will develop public service essential skills, including undertaking an Award in Understanding Stewarding at Spectator Events (Level 2 Award). You will also be given the opportunity to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which links in with the outdoor adventure activity units.

You will be timetabled over four days with a fifth scheduled as a study day designed to give you the chance to study independently but also to take part in Enrichment based activities that run across College. You may also want to be involved with one or more of the College teams who play fixtures on Wednesday afternoons.

The course will include you working with lecturers, receiving different tasks and activities which will go towards assignments. Lecturers will always be available to support your learning and understanding of the assignments set. You should be very aware that this is mostly a theory-based course and this should be considered before you make your final decision about whether this is the course for you. Visits, professional speakers and opportunities to interact with the public services are a key component of the course.

The course has no exams, which may be a positive aspect for you to consider, however the coursework demands can be quite intense so you’ll need to have good organisational skills. This is not a soft option – so make sure you’re fully committed.

English and Mathematics are essential for progression into further education and employment. All learners are required to take or work towards GCSE 9-4 English and Mathematics if they have not achieved this already.

You’ll work through a continuous programme of assignments, class activities, practical tasks, discussions, presentations, written reports, voluntary work, organising events and some group work. Each assessment will be graded against the unit criteria and from there you will get an overall grade (Pass, Merit or Distinction).

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My experience at South Downs has been decent, I’ve met lots of people, its been great to be honest, I’ve really enjoyed it.

Oliver Smith, A Level student

The teaching and support was absolutely brilliant, they couldn’t have done anything more or anything better, if I had any questions my lecturers would always stay behind to help me if I needed it and their emails were always open, it was second to none. South Downs College is the best by far.

Amber Searle, BTEC student

You take control of your own learning…they (South Downs College) were really helpful and always willing to do anything and go that extra step to help me get my grades.

Scarlette Tiller, A Level student


The course will allow you to achieve up to 240 UCAS points upon successful completion of the Level 3 Diploma. This will allow you to apply direct to university, or re-apply to South Downs College to study on the HNC/HND in Public Services further education programme.

You can also continue into higher education following a degree in courses such as Criminology, Law & Psychology, Business, Sports Coaching Science, Social Work, Youth & Social Studies and War Studies.

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