International Access Programme

ATHE Level 3 Diploma in Small Business and Social Enterprise Start-up

The ATHE Level 3 Diploma in Small Business and Social Enterprise Start-up is a 60-credit Ofqual regulated qualification and is the equivalent level to an A Level or Access to HE qualification. It has been designed for learners who wish to progress to a business or management degree and may not have the traditional entry qualifications usually required.

The qualification aims to provide learners with the underpinning knowledge and understanding of a range of topics within the Small Business and Social Enterprise Start-up environment. These topics will allow learners to develop practical and theoretical approaches to solving problems and finding solutions using Small Business and Social Enterprise Start-up.

This qualification sits within a suite of ATHE L3 qualifications, which is called the International Access Programme (IAP). Each qualification has a credit value of 60. Learners may choose to study one or more of the qualifications in this suite. Extending the learning to more than one qualification will increase knowledge, understanding and the development of a range of study skills. It will also increase the total number of credits achieved so learners are more qualified to access higher education, higher level apprenticeships or employment.At a glance:

  • Graded with Pass, Merit and Distinction
  • Advanced learner loans available in the UK – See the latest Qualifications catalogue
  • Progression to a bachelor degree at a range of university partners –
  • 600 learning hours, usually studied over 4 months to an academic year
  • Designed with support from universities
  • Can be delivered in the classroom, by distance or blended learning.


Learners must complete all 4 mandatory units.

To see the contents of each unit you can view the Qualification Specification.

Market Research

This unit aims to enable learners to identify possible opportunities for a small start-up enterprise by conducting market research and analysing the findings.

Business and Financial Planning

This unit aims to enable learners to produce a business plan for their start-up enterprise. Learners will also acquire knowledge and understanding of stock procurement, resource management and financial techniques to support business planning.

Quality Assurance

This unit aims to develop the learner’s knowledge and understanding of quality standards, their importance and how they are assured in a new enterprise start-up.

Presenting a Business Plan

This unit aims to give learners opportunities to develop communication, IT and presentation skills. Learners will acquire knowledge and understanding of how to structure a presentation specifically for an enterprise start-up, and deliver the presentation to an appropriate audience.

Progression Routes

Learners who complete this qualification can progress to study a variety of bachelor’s degrees at a university such as one of our partner universities. For information on ATHE university top-ups please see our Progression Routes here

Entry Criteria

Age: 16 +

Entry profile:

  • 5 or more GCSEs at grades C and above or Grade 4 and above
  • other related level 2 subjects
  • other equivalent international qualifications

Further Reading

  • Information Sheet
  • Request a Fee Structure relevant to your country