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BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing

BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing

 BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing


BTECs are work-related qualifications for students taking their first steps into employment, or for those already in employment and seeking career development opportunities. BTECs provide progression into the workplace either directly or via study at university and are also designed to meet employer’s needs. Therefore, Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications are widely recognised by industry and higher education as the principal vocational qualification at Levels 4 and 5.

When redeveloping the Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications in Computing, we collaborated with a wide range of students, employers, higher education providers, colleges and subject experts to ensure that the new qualifications meet their needs and expectations. We also worked closely with the relevant professional bodies, to ensure alignment with recognised professional standards.

There is now a greater emphasis on employer engagement and work readiness. The new Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications in Computing are designed to reflect this increasing need for high quality professional and technical education pathways at Levels 4 and 5, thereby providing students with a clear line of sight to employment and to progression to a degree at Level 6.

The Student Voice:-

Students are at the heart of what we do. That is why, from the outset, we consulted with students in the development of these qualifications. We involved them in writing groups, sought their feedback, and added their voices and views to those of other stakeholders.

The result, we believe, are qualifications that will meet the needs and expectations of students worldwide.

1.2Why choose Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals?

Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals are designed to help students secure the knowledge skills and behaviours needed to succeed in the workplace. They represent the latest in professional standards and provide opportunities for students to develop behaviours for work, for example by undertaking a group project, or responding to a client brief. A student may even achieve exemption from professional or vendor qualifications, or student membership of selected professional bodies, to help them on their journey to professional competence.

Pearson BTEC Levels 4 and 5 Higher Nationals in Computing1

Specification – Issue 4 – August 2019 © Pearson Education Limited 2019

At the same time the BTEC Higher Nationals are intended to keep doors open for future study should a student wish to progress further in their education after their level 5 study. They do this by allowing space for the development of higher education study skills, such as the ability to research. Clear alignment of level of demand with the Framework for Higher Education qualification descriptors at level 4 and 5 means that students wishing to progress to level 6 study should feel better prepared. The Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals address these various requirements by providing:

⦁A range of core, optional and specialist units, each with a clear purpose, so there is something to suit each student’s choice of programme and future progression plans.

⦁Fully revised content that is closely aligned with the needs of employers, professional bodies, vendors and higher education for a skilled future workforce.

⦁Learning Outcomes mapped against Professional Body standards and vendor accreditation requirements, where appropriate.

⦁Assessments and projects chosen to help students progress to the next stage (this means some are set by the centre to meet local needs, while others are set by Pearson).

⦁An approach to demand at level 4 and 5 which is aligned with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ).

⦁Support for student and tutors including Schemes of Work and Example Assessment Briefs.

1.3HN Global

Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals are supported by a specially designed range of digital resources, to ensure that tutors and students have the best possible experience during their course. These are available from the HN Global website http://www.highernationals.com/.

With HN Global, tutors can access programme specifications which contain useful information on programme planning and quality assurance processes. Tutors can also view schemes of work and example assessment briefs, helping them create meaningful courses and assessments. HN Global also allows tutors to create and annotate reading lists for their students and also keep up-to-date on the latest news regarding HN programmes.

1.4Qualification titles

Specialist pathways are included within brackets in the qualification title:

⦁Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing

⦁Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing (Network Engineering)

⦁Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing (Software Engineering)

⦁Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing (Data Analytics)

⦁Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing (Security)

⦁Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing (Intelligent Systems)

⦁Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing (Applications Development)

1.5Qualification codes

Ofqual Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Qualification numbers: Pearson BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Computing: 603/0472/8 Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing: 603/0471/6

1.6Awarding institution

Pearson Education Ltd.

1.7Key features

Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications in Computing offer:

⦁A stimulating and challenging programme of study that will be both engaging and memorable for students.

⦁The essential subject knowledge that students need to progress successfully into further study or the world of work.

⦁A simplified structure: students undertake a substantial core of learning in the BTEC Higher National Certificate and can build on this in the BTEC Higher National Diploma, with specialist and optional units linked to their area of study.

⦁Six specialist pathways in the BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma, so there is something to suit each student’s preference of study and future progression plans.

⦁Refreshed content that is closely aligned with Professional Body, vendor, employer and higher education needs.

⦁Assessments that consider cognitive skills (what students know) along with affective and applied skills (how they behave and what they can do, respectively)

⦁Unit-specific grading and Pearson-set assignments.

⦁A varied approach to assessment that supports progression to Level 6 and also allows centres to offer assessment relevant to the local economy, thereby accommodating and enhancing different learning styles.

⦁Quality assurance measures – as outlined in sections 6 and 7 of this Programme Specification – to ensure that all stakeholders (e.g. professional bodies, vendors, universities, businesses, colleges and students) can feel confident in the integrity and value of the qualifications.

⦁A qualification designed to meet the needs and expectations of students aspiring to work in an international business environment.

Qualification frameworks

Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications are designated higher education qualifications in the UK. They are aligned to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Subject Benchmark Statements. These qualifications are part of the UK Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

1.8Collaborative development

Students completing their Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing will be aiming to go on to employment or progress to a final year at university. Therefore, it was essential that we developed these qualifications in close collaboration with experts from professional bodies, vendors, businesses and universities, and with the providers who will be delivering the qualifications.

We are very grateful to the university and further education tutors, employers, vendors, Professional Body representatives and other individuals who have generously shared their time and expertise to help us develop these new qualifications.

British Computing Society (BCS)

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

University of Kent

University of Hull


Uxbridge College

The Tech Partnership


QA Apprenticeships


Imago Solutions

National College for Digital Skills

These qualifications have also been approved by the following professional bodies as suitable qualifications for students wanting to gain membership. The professional bodies include:

⦁The British Computing Society

⦁The Institution of Engineering and Technology.

2  Programme purpose and objectives

2.1Purpose of the Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing

The purpose of Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing is to develop students as professional, self-reflecting individuals able to meet the demands of employers in the computing sector and adapt to a constantly changing world. The qualifications aim to widen access to higher education and enhance the career prospects of those who undertake them.

2.2Objectives of the Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing

The objectives of the Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing are as follows:

⦁To equip students with computing skills, knowledge and the understanding necessary to achieve high performance in the global computing environment.

⦁To provide education and training for a range of careers in computing, including network engineering, software engineering, data analytics, security, intelligent systems, and applications development.

⦁To provide insight and understanding into international computing operations and the opportunities and challenges presented by a globalised market place.

⦁To equip students with knowledge and understanding of culturally diverse organisations, cross-cultural issues, diversity and values.

⦁To provide opportunities for students to enter or progress in employment in computing, or progress to higher education qualifications such as an Honours degree in computing or a related area.

⦁To provide opportunities for students to develop the skills, techniques and personal attributes essential for successful working lives.

⦁To provide opportunities for those students with a global outlook to aspire to international career pathways.

⦁To provide opportunities for students to achieve a nationally recognised professional qualification.

⦁To provide opportunities for students to achieve vendor accredited certifications.

⦁To offer students the chance of career progression in their chosen field.

⦁To allow flexibility of study and to meet local or specialist needs.

⦁To offer a balance between employability skills and the knowledge essential for students with entrepreneurial, employment or academic aspirations.

We meet these objectives by:

⦁Providing a thorough grounding in computing principles at Level 4 that leads the student to a range of specialist progression pathways at Level 5 relating to individual professions within the computing sector.

⦁Enabling progression to a university degree by supporting the development of appropriate academic study skills.

⦁Enabling progression to further professional qualifications in specific computing areas by mapping to units in a range of vendor accredited certificates.

Who is this qualification for?

The Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications in Computing are aimed at students wanting to continue their education through applied learning. Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals provide a wide-ranging study of the computing sector and are designed for students who wish to pursue or advance their career in computing. In addition to the knowledge, understanding and skills that underpin the study of the computing sector, Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in computing give students experience of the breadth and depth of the sector that will prepare them for further study or training.

2.3Aims of the Pearson BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Computing

The Pearson BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Computing offers students a broad introduction to the subject area via a mandatory core of learning, while allowing for the acquisition of skills and experience through the selection of optional units across a range of occupational sectors at Level 4. This effectively builds underpinning core skills while preparing the student for subject specialisation at Level

5.Students will gain a wide range of sector knowledge tied to practical skills gained in research, self-study, directed study and workplace scenarios.

At Level 4 students develop a broad knowledge and awareness of key aspects of the computing sector through six core units, which include one unit assessed by a Pearson-set assignment. The units are:



⦁Professional Practice

⦁Database Design & Development


⦁Managing a Successful Computing Project (Pearson-set unit).

The centre can also choose two further optional units at Level 4 from the following:

⦁Strategic Information Systems

⦁Computer Systems Architecture

⦁Software Development Lifecycles

⦁Website Design & Development

⦁Maths for Computing

⦁Data Analytics.

Graduates successfully completing the Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificate in Computing will be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the basic concepts of computing. They will be able to communicate accurately and appropriately and they will have the qualities needed for employment that requires some degree of personal responsibility. They will have developed a range of transferable skills to ensure effective team working, independent initiatives, organisational competence and problem-solving strategies. They will be adaptable and flexible in their approach to computing, show resilience under pressure, and meet challenging targets within a given resource.

2.4Aims of the Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing

The Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing offers students six specialist pathways designed to support progression into relevant occupational areas or on to degree-level study. These pathways are linked to Professional Body standards and vendor accredited certification (where appropriate) and can provide professional status and progression to direct employment.

The Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma offers the following specialist pathways for students who wish to concentrate on a particular aspect of computing:

⦁Network Engineering

⦁Software Engineering

⦁Data Analytics


⦁Intelligent Systems

⦁Applications Development.

There is also a non-specialist ‘Computing’ pathway, which allows students to complete a Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma without committing to a particular professional specialism. This offers additional flexibility to providers and students.

Holders of the Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma will have developed a sound understanding of the principles in their field of study and will have learned to apply those principles more widely. They will have learned to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems. They will be able to perform effectively in their chosen field and will have the qualities necessary for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making.

2.5Use of Maths and English within the curriculum

Those working within the computing sector cannot just rely on their technical skills and must ensure all skills are relevant to increase employment opportunities. They will be required to communicate appropriately with stakeholders throughout their career and the ability to use maths and English in a professional context is an essential employability skill that must be developed at all levels of study.

Development of essential maths and English skills are embedded throughout these qualifications in accordance with industry requirements and below are some examples of how these skills are developed in the BTEC Higher Nationals Curriculum:

⦁Written reports

⦁Formal presentations

⦁Informal conversations

⦁Use of professional, sector-specific language

⦁Using binary data

⦁Understanding algorithms

⦁Calculating costs

Some aspects of computing require higher level maths skills than others, but throughout your studies you will be using some level of maths within the curriculum. It is vital that students taking a BTEC Higher National in Computing are aware that these skills will be required throughout their studies, and as part of learning activities and assessments to ensure their skills are in line with current industry standards.

2.6The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA)

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is the global skills and competency framework that describes IT roles and the skills needed for them. It is supported by companies, government and academic institutions worldwide. SFIA describes standard levels of responsibility and accountability used in the framework and are divided according to generic levels of responsibility and skills.

The SFIA Level 3 responsibilities would correlate with those expected from an employer of a HNC graduate.

SFIA levels of responsibility: Level 3



o Works under general direction. Uses discretion in identifying and responding to complex issues and assignments. Usually receives specific instructions and has work reviewed at frequent milestones. Determines when issues should be escalated to a higher level.


o Interacts with and influences colleagues. Has working level contact with customers, suppliers and partners. May supervise others or make decisions which impact the work assigned to individuals or phases of projects.


o Performs a range of work, sometimes complex and non-routine, in a variety of environments.

⦁Business skills

o Demonstrates an analytical and systematic approach to issue resolution. Takes the initiative in identifying and negotiating appropriate personal development opportunities. Demonstrates effective communication skills. Contributes fully to the work of teams. Plans, schedules and monitors own work (and that of others where applicable) competently within limited deadlines and according to relevant legislation, standards and procedures. Appreciates the wider business context, and how own role relates to other roles and to the business of the employer or client.

oSelects appropriately from applicable standards, methods, tools and applications. Communicates fluently, orally and in writing, and can present complex information to both technical and non-technical audiences. Facilitates collaboration between stakeholders who share common objectives. Plans, schedules and monitors work to meet time and quality targets. Rapidly absorbs new information and applies it effectively. Maintains an awareness of developing technologies and their application and takes some responsibility for driving own development.

The SFIA framework was used throughout the design and content creation of Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing.

The National Occupational Standards for IT professionals are industry standards for skills, developed for the Trailblazer Apprenticeships which have been developed in line with the SFIA framework.

CompTIA and BCS have mapped their membership schemes to the SFIA framework.

By using the SFIA framework the Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing will be aligned with both the Trailblazer Apprenticeships in Digital Industries and Professional Body memberships.

2.7What could these qualifications lead to?

The Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificate provides a solid grounding in computing at Level 4, vendor-accredited certification andProfessional Body membership, all of which students can build on should they decide to continue their studies beyond the Certificate stage. The Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma allows students to specialise by committing to specific career paths and progression routes to degree-level study.

On successful completion of the Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma at Level 5, students can develop their careers in the computing sector through:

⦁Entering employment

⦁Continuing existing employment

⦁Linking with the appropriate vendor accredited certificates

⦁Committing to Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

⦁Progressing to university.

The Level 5 Higher National Diploma is recognised by higher education providers as meeting admission requirements to many relevant computing-related courses.

Details of entry requirements for BTEC Higher National graduates into degree programmes at institutions in the UK and internationally can be found on the Degree Course Finder website (http://degreecoursefinder.pearson.com/).

The skills offered as part of the Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma can provide graduates with the opportunity to work in many different areas of the computing sector. Below are some examples of job roles each qualification could lead to:


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