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Learners must pass all 10 units on their programme of learning to be awarded a BTEC Higher. National Certificate and all 16 units to be awarded a BTEC Higher National Diploma.
The assessment of BTEC Higher National qualifications is criterion-referenced and centres are
required to assess learners' evidence against published learning outcomes and assessment
criteria. All units will be individually graded as 'pass', 'merit' or 'distinction'. To achieve a
pass grade for the unit learners must meet the assessment criteria set out in the specifications.
This gives transparency to the assessment process and provides for the establishment of
national standards for each qualification.
The units in BTEC Higher National qualifications all have a standard format which is designed
to provide clear guidance on the requirements of the qualification for learners, assessors and
those responsible for monitoring national standards.
Each unit is set out in the following way.
Unit title, learning hours and NQF level
The unit title is accredited by QCA and this form of words will appear on the learner's
Notification of Performance. In BTEC Higher National qualifications each unit consists of
60 guided learning hours.
Each unit is assigned a notional level indicator of H1 or H2, indicating the relative intellectual
demand, complexity and depth of study, and learner autonomy.
At H1 level the emphasis is on the application of knowledge, skills and understanding, use of
conventions in the field of study, use of analytical skills and selection and organisation of
At H2 level the emphasis is on application and evaluation of contrasting ideas, principles,
theories and practices, greater specialisation in the field of study, and an increasing
independence in systematic enquiry and analysis.
Description of unit
A brief description of the overall purpose of the unit is given, together with the key areas of
study associated with the unit.
Summary of learning outcomes
The outcomes of the unit identify what each learner must do in order to pass it. Learners must
achieve all the outcomes in order to pass the unit.
This section picks up highlighted words from the outcomes and amplifies the content coverage
required when addressing the outcomes. The content section will often provide lists of topics.
Please note all aspects of the listed topics should be covered, except those that begin with 'eg',
where items listed are merely indicative.
Outcomes and assessment criteria
Each unit contains statements of the evidence that each learner should produce in order to
receive a pass.
This section is not prescriptive but provides additional guidance and amplification related to the
unit to support teachers/deliverers and assessors. Its subsections are given below. Only those
subsections which apply to the unit will appear.
• Delivery - offers guidance about possible approaches to delivery. The guidance is based
on the more usual delivery modes and is not intended to rule out alternative approaches.
• Assessment - provides advice about the nature and type of evidence that learners are likely
to need to produce. This subsection should be read in conjunction with the assessment
criteria and the generic grade descriptors.
• Links - sets out the links between units. Provides opportunities for integration of learning,
delivery and assessment. Any links to the National Occupational Standards will be
• Resources - identifies the specialist resources likely to be needed to allow learners to
generate the evidence required by each unit. The centre will be asked to ensure that this
resource requirement is in place when it seeks approval from Edexcel to offer the
• Support materials - identifies, where appropriate, textbooks, videos, magazines, journals,
publications and websites that may support the delivery of the unit.
Learning and assessment
The purpose of assessment is to ensure that effective learning of the content of each unit has
taken place. Evidence of this learning, or the application of the learning etc, is required for each
unit. The assessment of the evidence relates directly to the assessment criteria for each unit,
supported by the generic grade descriptors.
The process of assessment can aid effective learning by seeking and interpreting evidence to
decide the stage that learners have reached in their learning, what further learning needs to take
place and how best to do this. Therefore, the process of assessment should be part of the
effective planning of teaching and learning by providing opportunities for both the learner and
assessor to obtain information about progress towards learning goals. The assessor and learner
must be actively engaged in promoting a common understanding of the assessment criteria and
the grade descriptors (what it is they are trying to achieve and how well they achieve it) for
further learning to take place. Therefore, learners need constructive feedback and guidance
about how to improve, capitalising on strengths, with clear and constructive comments about
weaknesses and how these might be addressed.
Assessment instruments are constructed by centres. Assessment instruments should collectively
ensure coverage of all assessment criteria within each unit and should provide opportunities for
the evidencing of all the grade descriptors. It is advised that assessment criteria and
contextualised grade descriptors are clearly indicated on each assessment instrument to provide
a focus for learners (for transparency and to ensure that feedback is specific to the criteria) and
to assist with internal standardisation processes. Tasks/activities should enable learners to
produce evidence that relates directly to the assessment criteria and grade descriptors.
When centres are designing assessment instruments, they need to ensure that the instruments
are valid, reliable and fit for purpose, building on the application of the assessment criteria.
Centres are encouraged to place emphasis on practical application of the assessment criteria,
providing a realistic scenario for learners to adopt, making maximum use of work-related
practical experience and reflecting typical practice in the sector concerned. The creation of
assessment instruments that are fit for purpose is vital to achievement and their importance
cannot be over-emphasised.
Grading Higher National units
The assessment of BTEC Higher National qualifications will be at unit level and there will be
no overall grade for either the Certificate or the Diploma. This means that learners are able to
access the qualification through a unitised approach.
Each unit will be graded as a pass, merit or distinction. A pass is awarded for the achievement
of all outcomes against the specified assessment criteria. Merit and distinction grades are
awarded for higher-level achievement.
The generic merit and distinction grade descriptors listed on pages 16-17 are for grading the
total evidence produced for each unit and describe the learner's performance over and above
that for a pass grade.
The merit and distinction grade descriptors can be achieved in a flexible way, eg in a sequential
or holistic mode, to reflect the nature of the sector concerned.
Each of the generic merit and distinction grade descriptors can be amplified by use of
indicative characteristics. These give a guide to the expected learner performance, and
support the generic grade descriptors. The indicative characteristics should reflect the nature of
a unit and the context of the sector programme.
The indicative characteristics shown in the table for each of the generic grade descriptors are
not exhaustive. Consequently, centres should select from the list or may construct other
appropriate indicative characteristics for their sector programme which may be drawn from the
appropriate higher-level skills. It is important to note that each assessment activity does not
need to incorporate all the merit and/or distinction grade descriptors.
Contextualising the generic grade descriptors
The generic merit and distinction grade descriptors need to be viewed as a qualitative extension
of the assessment criteria for pass within each individual unit. The relevant generic grade
descriptors must be identified and specified within an assignment and the relevant indicative
characteristics should be used to place the required evidence in context
A pass grade is achieved by meeting all the requirements defined in the assessment criteria for
pass for each unit.
Merit descriptors Indicative characteristics
In order to achieve a merit
the learner must:
The learner's evidence shows:
• identify and apply
strategies to find
• effective judgements have been made
• complex problems with more than one variable have been
• an effective approach to study and research has been applied
• select/design and apply
• relevant theories and techniques have been applied
• a range of methods and techniques have been applied
• a range of sources of information has been used
• the selection of methods and techniques/sources has been
• the design of methods/techniques has been justified
• complex information/data has been synthesised and
• appropriate learning methods/techniques have been applied
• present and
• the appropriate structure and approach has been used
• coherent, logical development of principles/concepts for the
• a range of methods of presentation have been used and
technical language has been accurately used
• communication has taken place in familiar and unfamiliar
• the communication is appropriate for familiar and
unfamiliar audiences and appropriate media have been used
Distinction descriptors Indicative characteristics
In order to achieve a
distinction the learner must:
The learner's evidence shows:
• use critical reflection to
evaluate own work and
justify valid conclusions
• conclusions have been arrived at through synthesis of ideas
and have been justified
• the validity of results has been evaluated using defined
• self-criticism of approach has taken place
• realistic improvements have been proposed against defined
characteristics for success
• take responsibility for
managing and organising
• autonomy/independence has been demonstrated
• substantial activities, projects or investigations have been
planned, managed and organised
• activities have been managed
• the unforeseen has been accommodated
• the importance of interdependence has been recognised and
• ideas have been generated and decisions taken
• self-evaluation has taken place
• convergent and lateral thinking have been applied
• problems have been solved
• innovation and creative thought have been applied
• receptiveness to new ideas is evident
• effective thinking has taken place in unfamiliar contexts
Programme design and delivery
The qualifications consist of core units (which are mandatory) and specialist units. These
specialist units will be mostly optional and are designed to provide a specific focus to the
qualification. Required combinations of specialist units are clearly set out in relation to each
qualification in the defined qualification structures provided in this document.
In BTEC Higher National qualifications each unit consists of 60 guided learning hours. The
definition of guided learning hours is 'a notional measure of the substance of a qualification'. It
includes an estimate of time that might be allocated to direct teaching, instruction and
assessment, together with other structured learning time such as directed assignments or
supported individual study. It excludes learner-initiated private study. Centres are advised to
consider this definition when planning the programme of study associated with this
Mode of delivery
Edexcel does not define the mode of study for BTEC Higher National qualifications. Centres
are free to offer the qualifications using any mode of delivery that meets the needs of their
learners. This may be through traditional classroom teaching, open learning, distance learning
or a combination of these. Whatever mode of delivery is used, centres must ensure that learners
have appropriate access to the resources identified in the specifications and to the subject
specialists delivering the units. This is particularly important for learners studying for the
qualification through open or distance learning.
Full guidance on Edexcel's policies on 'distance assessment' and 'electronic assessment' are
provided on our website.
Learners studying for the qualification on a part-time basis bring with them a wealth of
experience that should be utilised to maximum effect by tutors and assessors. Assessment
instruments based on learners' work environments should be encouraged. Those planning the
programme should aim to enhance the vocational nature of the BTEC Higher National
• liaising with employers to ensure that the course is relevant to the specific needs of the
• accessing and using non-confidential data and documents from learners' workplaces
• including sponsoring employers in the delivery of the programme and, where appropriate,
in the assessment
• linking with company-based/workplace training programmes
• making full use of the variety of experiences of work and life that learners bring to the
BTEC Higher National qualifications are designed to prepare learners for employment in
specific sectors. Physical resources need to support the delivery of the programme and the
proper assessment of the outcomes and, therefore, should normally be of industry standard.
Staff delivering programmes and conducting the assessments should be fully familiar with
current practice and standards in the sector concerned. Centres will need to meet any specialist
resource requirements when they seek approval from Edexcel.
Specialist resources should include case study materials, real resources acquired from
commercial operations, videos and documented examples of current practice, eg reports from
the Computing/IT industry. These are detailed in each unit.
It is important that centres develop an approach to teaching and learning that supports the
specialist vocational nature of the BTEC Higher National qualifications. The specifications
contain a balance of practical skill development and knowledge requirements, some of which
can be theoretical in nature. Tutors and assessors need to ensure that appropriate links are made
between theory and practice and that the knowledge base is applied to the sector. This will
require the development of relevant and up-to-date teaching materials that allow learners to
apply their learning to actual events and activity within the sector. Maximum use should be
made of the learner's experience.
Meeting local needs
Centres should note the qualifications set out in these specifications have been developed in
consultation with centres, employers and professional bodies for the computing sector, together
with support from the Sector Skills Council or NTO for the sector. The units are designed to
meet the skill needs of the sector and the specialist units allow coverage of the full range of
employment. Centres should make maximum use of the choice available to them within the
specialist units in these specifications to meet the needs of their learners, as well as the local
skills and training needs identified by organisations such as Regional Development Agencies
and Local Learning and Skills Councils.
Centres may not always be able to meet local needs using the units in this specification. In this
situation, centres may seek approval from Edexcel to make use of units from other standard
NQF BTEC Higher National specifications. Centres will need to justify the need for importing
units from other specifications and Edexcel will ensure that the vocational focus of the
qualification has not been diluted.
Locally-devised specialist units
There may be exceptional circumstances where even the flexibility of importing units from
other specifications does not meet a particular local need. In this case, centres can seek
permission from Edexcel to develop a unit with us to meet this need. The cases where this will
be allowable will be very limited. Edexcel will ensure that the integrity of the qualification is
not reduced and that there is a minimum of overlap and duplication of content of existing units.
Centres will need strong evidence of the local need and the reasons why the existing standard
units are inappropriate. Edexcel will need to validate these units.
Limitations on variations from standard specifications
The flexibility to import standard units from other BTEC Higher National specifications and/or
to develop unique locally-devised specialist units is limited to a maximum of four units in a
BTEC Higher National Diploma qualification and a maximum of two units only in any
BTEC Higher National Certificate qualification. The use of these units cannot be at the
expense of the core units in any qualification.
Practical work undertaken in the higher national diploma
We did many practical's in the HND. Some subjects are practical subjects. Database concept, data analysis and design, visual programming, java programming, network technology subjects are among those. For the database concept subject I did a database for a book shop using Microsoft access. And for the data analysis and design subject I did a database for a hospital using Microsoft SQL server 2005, and for the java programming subject I did some application using netbeans. I use the same database of the data analysis and design subjects one as the backend for the java programming subject's java application. For the visual programming subject I did a application again. It is using Microsoft c# 2008. for the network technology subject we were had some practicals using windows server 2003, as the final project of the course or the informations systems project subject's project I did a application to a small private hospital using visual studio 2008. these are the practical works that are undertaken during in the HND course…