The Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing offers students one general pathway and five specialist pathways, designed to support progression to relevant occupational areas or degree-level study. City of London College offers the general pathway.
The Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma in Computing also offers the following specialist pathways for students who wish to concentrate on a particular aspect of computing:
- Software Engineering
- Applications Development and Testing
- Data Analytics
- Network Engineering
- Cyber Security
The non-specialist ‘General’ pathway, offered at the College, allows students to complete a Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma without committing to a particular professional specialism. This offers additional flexibility to the 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 that require the exercise of personal responsibility and decision making.
This pathway at Level 5 is mapped to professional body standards and vendor-accredited certification (where appropriate) and can provide professional status and progression to direct employment.
The Level 5 Higher National Diploma allows students to specialise by committing to specific career paths and progression routes to degree-level study. Once students have achieved the Level 5 Higher National Diploma, they can develop their career in the respective sector by:
- entering employment
- continuing existing employment
- linking with the appropriate professional body
- committing to continuing professional development, or
- studying at university
Qualification code Ofqual Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Qualification numbers: Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Computing: 603/7596/6.
Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals are intended to keep doors open for future study if a student wishes to take their education further after completing a Higher National programme. They do this by allowing space for students to develop their higher education study skills, such as the ability to research. The study programme is clearly set out in line with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s Framework for Higher Education qualification standards. This means that students who want to progress to Level 6 study should feel better prepared. The Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals meet these requirements by providing:
- a range of general and specialist study units, both core and optional, each with a clear purpose, so there is something to suit each student’s choice of programme and future progression plans
- up-to-date content, closely in line with the needs of employers, professional bodies and higher education, for a skilled future workforce
- learning outcomes mapped against professional body standards where appropriate
- support for tutors, including authorised assignment briefs, curriculum planning support and assessment guidance, and
- support for students, including digital learning resources and communities, through HN Global.
Progression to university
The Level 5 Higher National Diploma is recognised by higher education providers as meeting admission requirements to many computing-related courses, for example:
- BSc (Hons) in Computing
- BSc Data Science
- BSc (Hons) in Information Technology
- BSc (Hons) Business Computer Systems
- BEng (Hons) Software Engineering
- BSc (Hons) Cyber Security and Forensic Computing.
Entry Requirements & Admissions
Pearson does not set formal entry requirements for our qualifications but as a centre, you are responsible for making sure that the students you recruit have a reasonable chance of success on the programme.
Students who have recently been in education are likely to need:
- a BTEC Level 3 qualification in Computing
- a GCE Advanced Level profile that demonstrates strong performance in a relevant subject or adequate performance in more than one GCE subject. This profile is likely to be supported by GCSE grades at A* to C (or equivalent) and/or 9 to 4 (or equivalent) in subjects such as maths and English
- other related Level 3 qualifications
- an Access to Higher Education Diploma from an approved further education institution
- relevant work experience, or
- an international equivalent to the above qualifications
Our Recognition of Prior Learning policy means that students’ previous learning and experience can be taken into account and they may be awarded certain qualifications or units of a qualification based on that learning or experience.
Recognition of prior learning and attainment for more information.
English language requirements
Pearson’s mission is to help people make more of their lives through learning. To assist centres in recruiting students who have the skills to benefit from undertaking a Higher National programme of study, we provide the following clarification regarding the English language admission requirements when offering places to applicants.
All centres delivering Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications in English must ensure that each applicant can demonstrate their capability to learn and be assessed at the relevant level in English.
Students applying for a Pearson BTEC Higher National qualification that is taught and assessed completely in English will need a certain level of English language skills.
Before accepting students onto a programme, you must make sure that those who are non-native English speakers and who have not carried out their final two years of schooling in English can demonstrate ability at a standard equivalent to:
- Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level B2
- PTE Academic 51, or
- IELTS 5.5 (reading and writing must be at 5.5).
Students who have completed a Pearson BTEC Higher National qualification delivered partly or completely in another language but which was assessed in English will need to demonstrate ability in English to the standard above but at the end of the programme.
Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications are recognised higher education qualifications in the UK. They are in line with 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).
Pearson BTEC Higher National Computing qualifications offer:
- an exciting and informative study programme that stimulates and challenges students
- a simple and flexible structure that enables students to take the Higher National Diploma, with optional units linked to their specialist area of study
- an opportunity for students to follow specialist routes of interest at Level 5, gaining the knowledge and skills they need to progress to higher education or employment in their specialist area
- refreshed content that is closely aligned with professional body, vendor, employer and higher education needs
- core competencies throughout the curriculum, to support lifelong learning skills for personal and professional development
- the opportunity for centres to offer assessments that consider cognitive skills (what students know), along with effective and applied skills (how they behave and what they can do), to support a practical and dynamic approach to learning
- unit-specific assessment and Pearson-set themes designed to encourage thorough and analytical learning, challenge students and develop skills in critical thinking, personal responsibility and decision making
- a flexible approach to assessment that supports progression to higher education or to work and which allows for different learning styles
- quality assurance measures that assure professional organisations, universities, businesses, colleges and students of the integrity and value of the qualifications, and
- a programme of learning designed to meet skills gaps in the current workforce and build today’s talent to meet tomorrow’s needs in an international environment.
University recognition and articulations
We work with a range of higher education institutions around the world that accept Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals as a qualification for entry to their undergraduate degree courses; many universities allow advanced entry to the second or third year of their courses. Agreements can include transferring learning credits from one course or qualification to the other, articulation and case-by-case admission.
Students should be aware that each university sets its own admission criteria and that those criteria can change. Before applying, students should understand the course entry requirements for the subject and year in which they want to study. For more information on entry requirements, including 2+1 articulations, please visit
Employability skills (sometimes referred to as transferable skills) are vital in increasing students’ career prospects and they contribute to their personal development. BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing support students in developing the key skills, qualities and strengths that employers are looking for.
We divide employability skills into five main categories.
- critical thinking
- using expert and creative solutions to solve non-routine problems
- using systems and digital technology, and
- generating and communicating ideas creatively.
- adaptability and resilience
- self-monitoring and self-development
- self-analysis, and
- reflection, planning and prioritising.
- leadership skills
- communicating effectively
- working with others
- negotiating and influencing, and
- presentation skills.
- awareness of the computing and business sector
- IT and systems integration across the business environment
- project management
- application and systems development.
Students also benefit from opportunities to carry out deeper learning; they can make connections between different study units and select areas of interest for detailed study. In this way, BTEC Higher Nationals in Computing provide a vocational context in which students can develop the knowledge and academic study skills they need to progress to university degree courses.
The academic study skills include:
- active research
- effective writing
- analytical skills
- critical thinking
- creative problem solving
- decision making
- preparing for exams, and
- using digital technology.
Maths and English
Those working in the computing sector cannot just rely on their technical skills, they must ensure that all their skills are relevant so as to increase their 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 in these qualifications in accordance with industry requirements examples of how these skills are developed in the BTEC Higher Nationals Curriculum are:
- 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 students’ studies they will be using some level of maths in 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 that they are part of the learning activities and assessments to ensure that their skills are in line with current industry standards.