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BTEC Higher Nationals in Business (Level 4 & 5)

1. What are BTEC Higher Nationals in Business?

Pearson BTEC Higher National qualifications in Business 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 Higher National Certificate and can build on this in the Higher National Diploma, with optional units linked to their specialist area of study.
  • Refreshed content that is closely aligned with Professional Body, employer and higher education needs.
  • Assessments that consider cognitive skills (what students know) along with effective and applied skills (respectively how they behave and what they can do)
  • 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.
  • A qualification designed to meet the needs and expectations of students aspiring to work in an international business environment.

2. Entry requirements and admissions

Although no formal entry requirements have been specified, learners are desired to have a reasonable expectation of success on the programme. For students who have recently been in education, the entry profile is likely to include one of the following:

  • A BTEC Level 3 qualification in Business or equivalent (A-levels and/or Intermediate)
  • 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 Mathematics and English
  • Other related Level 3 qualifications
  • An Access to Higher Education Diploma awarded by an approved further education institution
  • Related work experience
  • An international equivalent of the above

Applicants’ prior learning can be considered when deciding on their acceptance on a Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals, through Recognition of Prior Learning.

3. Programme structure

3.1 Units, credits and Total Qualification Time (TQT)

The Higher National Certificate (HNC) is a Level 4 qualification made up of 120 credits. It is usually studied full-time over one year, or part-time over two years.

The Higher National Diploma (HND) is a Level 4 and Level 5 qualification made up of 240 credits. It is usually studied full-time over two years, or part-time over four years.

Pearson would expect that an HND student would have achieved at least 90 credits at Level 4 before progressing to Level 5 units. This allows for the students to submit the remaining 30 credits at Level 4 while undertaking their Level 5 study.

Students undertaking an HND who fail to successfully complete the full qualification may be awarded an HNC, if their credit achievement permits.

Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals consist of core units, specialist units and optional units:

  • Core and specialist units are mandatory
  • Specialist units are designed to provide a specific occupational focus to the qualification and are aligned to Professional Body standards
  • Offered course combination has been clearly set out below

All units are usually 15 credits in value, or a multiple thereof. These units have been designed from a learning time perspective, and are expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time (TQT). TQT is an estimate of the total amount of time that could reasonably be expected to be required for a student to achieve and demonstrate the achievement of the level of attainment necessary for the award of a qualification. TQT includes undertaking each of the activities of Guided Learning, Directed Learning and Invigilated Assessment. Each 15-credit unit approximates to a TQT of 150 hours and 60 hours of Guided Learning.

Total Qualification Time (TQT) Higher National Certificate (HNC) = 1,200 hours Total Qualification Time (TQT) Higher National Diploma (HND) = 2,400 hours 

Examples of activities which can contribute to Total Qualification Time include:

  • Guided Learning
  • Independent and unsupervised research/learning
  • Unsupervised compilation of a portfolio of work experience
  • Unsupervised e-learning
  • Unsupervised e-assessment
  • Unsupervised coursework
  • Watching a pre-recorded podcast or webinar
  • Unsupervised work-based learning. 

Guided Learning Hours (GLH) are defined as the time when a tutor is present to give specific guidance towards the learning aim being studied on a programme. This definition includes lectures, tutorials and supervised study in, for example, open learning centres and learning workshops. Guided Learning includes any supervised assessment activity; this includes invigilated examination and observed assessment and observed work-based practice.  

Total Guided Learning (GL) Higher National Certificate (HNC) = 480 hours

Total Guided Learning (GL) Higher National Diploma (HND) = 960 hours 

Some examples of activities which can contribute to Guided Learning include:

  • Classroom-based learning supervised by a tutor
  • Work-based learning supervised by a tutor
  • Live webinar or telephone tutorial with a tutor in real time
  • E-learning supervised by a tutor in real time
  • All forms of assessment which take place under the immediate guidance or supervision of a tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training, including where the assessment is competence-based and may be turned into a learning opportunity.

3.2 Programme structures

The programme structures specify:

  • The total credit value of the qualification
  • The minimum credit to be achieved at the level of the qualification
  • The core units
  • The specialist units
  • The optional units
  • The maximum credit value in units that can be centre commissioned.

3.2.1 Pearson BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Business

  • Qualification credit value: a minimum of 120 credits. This is made up of eight units, each with a value of 15 credits.
  • Total Qualification Time (TQT) Higher National Certificate (HNC) = 1,200 hours
  • Total Guided Learning (GL) Higher National Certificate (HNC) = 480 hours
  • There is a required mix of core and optional units total 120 credits.All units are at Level 4

3.2.2 Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Business

  • Qualification credit value: a minimum of 240 credits, of which 120 credits are at Level 5, and 120 credits are at Level 4 and usually attained via the HNC.
  • Total Qualification Time (TQT) Higher National Diploma (HND) = 2, 400 hours
  • Total Guided Learning (GL) Higher National Diploma (HND) = 960 hours
  • There is a required mix of core, specialist and optional units totaling 240 credits. The core units required for each Level 5 specialist pathway (in addition to the specialist units) are Business Research Project, which is weighted at 30 credits, and Organisational Behaviour, weighted at 15 credits.
  • The requirements of the Higher National Certificate (or equivalent) have to be met.

The Level 5 Higher National Diploma consists of the Level 4 Higher National Certificate (above) plus an additional 120 credits at Level 5 delivered via the General Business pathway or one of the following seven specialist pathways:

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Business Management
  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Law

4. What could these qualifications lead to?

The Level 4 Higher National Certificate provides a solid grounding in business, which students can build on should they decide to continue their studies beyond the Certificate stage. The Level 5 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 Level 5 Higher National Diploma, students can develop their careers in the business sector through:

  • Entering employment
  • Continuing existing employment
  • Linking with the appropriate Professional Body
  • Committing to Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
  • Progressing to university.

4.1 Progression to university

The Level 5 Higher National Diploma is recognised by Higher Education providers as meeting admission requirements to many relevant business-related courses, for example:

  • BSc (Hons) in Business and Management
  • BA and BSc (Hons) in Business Studies
  • BSc (Hons) in International Management.

4.1.1 University recognition and articulations

Pearson works with a number of universities around the world to recognise and accept our BTEC Higher Nationals as a qualification for entry onto an undergraduate degree. Many universities now allow advanced entry onto the second or third year of a degree. Some universities have direct articulations on to the second or third year of a bachelor’s degree programme with Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals.

Please note:

University admission criteria is always subject to change and you should understand the course entry requirements for subject, year and grade before applying.

For more information on entry requirements, including 2+1 articulations, please visit: https://degreecoursefinder.pearson.com

After completing a Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificate or Diploma, students can also progress directly into employment.

4.2 Employment

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 business sector. Below are some examples of job roles each qualification could lead to:

5.How are the Qualifications assessed?

BTEC Higher Nationals in Business are assessed using a combination of internally assessed centre-devised internal assignments (which are set and marked by centres) and internally assessed Pearson-set assignments (which are set by Pearson and marked by centres). Pearson-set assignments are mandatory and target particular industry-specific skills.

5.1 The Grading Rule

Assessors must show how they have reached their decisions using the criteria in the assessment records. When a student has completed all the assessment for a unit then the assessment team will give a grade for the unit. This is given simply according to the highest level for which the student is judged to have met all the criteria. Therefore:

  • To achieve a Pass, a student must have satisfied all the Pass criteria for the learning outcomes, showing coverage of the unit content and therefore attainment at Level 4 or 5 of the national framework.
  • To achieve a Merit, a student must have satisfied all the Merit criteria (and therefore the Pass criteria) through high performance in each learning outcome.
  • To achieve a Distinction, a student must have satisfied all the Distinction criteria (and therefore the Pass and Merit criteria), and these define outstanding performance across the unit as a whole.

The award of a Pass is a defined level of performance and cannot be given solely on the basis of a student completing assignments. Students who do not satisfy the Pass criteria should be reported as Unclassified.

6. How to apply

Applying for an HNC or HND?

Please visit our website at the link below, and fill our online form with relevant information in the required (*) fields. You may also visit our office during working hours (8am to 4pm) Mondays to Fridays, or call us at our

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  •     (0311) 1115 661
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