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BTEC Higher Nationals Brieng

Version 4
November 2010

BTEC Higher Nationals on the


Qualications and Credit Framework

Contents
BTEC Higher Nationals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rationale for BTEC Higher Nationals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
QCF BTEC Higher Nationals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
New Graduate Diploma (Level 6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
New digital learning and teaching resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Titles and structures of BTEC Higher Nationals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Examples of BTEC Higher National titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
BTEC Higher National units on the QCF at a glance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mandatory units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Specialist units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Meeting Local Needs (MLN) units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Locally devised specialist units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Credit value of imported (MLN) and/or centre devised units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Assessment and grading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Unit grades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Qualification grades. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Average learner profile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Employer engagement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Transition from NQF to QCF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendix 1
Quality Assurance (QA) of Edexcel
BTEC Higher Nationals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendix 2
Calculation of the qualification grade
for HNCs and HNDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Examples of possible learner profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendix 3
HN accreditation indicative timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendix 4
HN sectors by development phase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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BTEC Higher Nationals


Introduction
This document has been produced as part of the redevelopment process of the Higher National qualications. It
represents the results of all our consultations with centres, employers representations, FE, HE and Ofqual. It is intended
to show how we have redeveloped the HN qualications.
Following consultations with centres that have taken place during the HN Launch events, Spring 2010, we have
implemented some changes to the structures of the HNC and HND. These changes are detailed herein (Version 3) and
are contained within the tables on Page 6. We have decided to change the minimum value of Level 4 units within an
HNC from 90 credits to 65 credits, and the maximum value of Level 5 credits from 35 credits to 55 credits.
As a result of further feedback, we have also revised our plans to change the Quality Assurance (QA) model. We will
now be continuing with the established QA procedures where Edexcel will take responsibility for allocating external
examiners to FE colleges running BTEC Higher Nationals. Please see page 11 for comprehensive guidance on the
Edexcel Quality Assurance system.

Overview
Edexcel wishes to bring the BTEC Higher National suite of qualications into line with the changes being made to BTEC
Firsts (level 2) and Nationals (level 3). We welcome the introduction of the Qualications & Credit Framework (QCF)
as the rst nationally recognised credit framework and feel it has the potential to liberate all BTEC qualications and
units by recognising their unique potential for progression and achievement.
It will allow us to fully exploit the original design principles for these qualications and units. BTEC qualications have
a long history of being unit-based, specialist qualications that are designed to facilitate progression and achievement
in a vocationally-related context and are well recognised by both employers and universities.
Our new QCF BTEC Higher National qualications will preserve and develop the nationally recognised integrity
and foundations of BTEC, with the additional benets of widening participation and recognition in a national credit
framework. We also feel that the QCF will benet from the inclusion of BTEC Higher National qualications.
Each of the new BTEC Higher Nationals has a credit value and the qualications have been developed to support and
encourage progression from level 3 through to level 5.
The level 4 HNC nests within the level 5 HND. This has been adopted as a design principle and enables learners to
build their learning journey on milestones of qualication and credit achievement.
Qualications and units developed for individual sectors will focus on and articulate to Sector Skills Council (SSC)
priorities, their Sector Qualication Strategy (SQS), subsequent Action Plans and revised National Occupational
Standards (NOS). The focus on a sector relevant purpose will enable us to build a more effective provision between
levels, from Level 3 (BTEC Nationals) through to degree.
Edexcel will ensure that the rationale and guidance for these qualications reects these attributes and establishes
their distinctive contribution to each sector.
In response to the demands of the QCF, Edexcel will be introducing a new quality assurance (QA) system (see
Appendix 1).

Rationale for BTEC Higher Nationals


The suites of BTEC Higher Nationals are designed to provide specialist work-related qualications appropriate to
the skills needs of a range of sectors at levels 4 and 5. They have been developed to provide the required knowledge,
understanding and skills, in a sector context, necessary to prepare learners for employment and progression and/or to
provide career development opportunities for those already in work.
Consequently they provide meaningful, coherent and specically focused programmes of study for full-time or parttime learners in colleges, Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and training centres that are exible enough to allow for
the application of knowledge, understanding and skills through a programme of centre-devised assignments and other
learner activities.
The development of units with credit values and appropriate levels for the QCF will ensure that BTEC Higher Nationals
will be more exible and allow colleges, training providers and HEIs to deliver specialist learning alongside other nonvocational subjects. They will also contribute to the widening participation agenda initiative by supporting different
learning styles.
The BTEC Higher Nationals have been developed to provide a preparation for employment and progression and/or to
provide career development opportunities for those already in work. On successful completion of these qualications,
learners will be able to progress into or within employment and/or continue their study in the vocational area.
BTEC Higher Nationals are designed to foster specialist work-related learning in colleges and HEIs. As specialist workrelated qualications, they inspire higher achievement and encourage progression to university or work within the sector
studied. They also form part of a dened progression route towards nationally accredited work-based qualications,
based on the needs of employers, professional bodies and relating to NOS where appropriate.

QCF BTEC Higher Nationals


As part of our ongoing commitment, the BTEC team is pleased to share with you news of recent developments to the
Higher National Certicate (HNC) and Diploma (HND), and to invite you to get involved in shaping the next generation
of BTEC Higher National qualications.

New Graduate Diploma (Level 6)


We are working on some research to establish demand for a Level 6 qualication which could act as a degree-level topup to an HND or Foundation Degree in key vocational sectors such as Business, Engineering, IT and Health & Social Care,
and in time across all the main HN sectors.
As part of this process, we are keen to engage with centres interested in working with us
in a consultation exercise to develop an appropriate, attractive curriculum and specication for each sector, and
as early adopters of the qualication starting in September 2011.

New Digital learning and teaching resources


As the use of digital educational tools continues to develop, we are looking to enhance the study of BTEC Higher
Nationals by providing rigorous, high-quality teaching and learning materials.
Combining content from market-leading Pearson textbooks and a range of digital material, we are developing a suite of
teaching and learning resources to support BTEC HNs in key sectors across Levels 4, 5 and 6, starting with Business.
As part of this process we will be inviting centres to participate in:
reviewing and feeding back on some sample material early in 2011, and
becoming an early adopter in September 2011.
If you would like to get involved in these initiatives, please join our BTEC Higher Nationals Development Group by
contacting our team at btechn@edexcel.com and we will be in touch with more information.

Titles and structures of BTEC Higher Nationals


On the new QCF, BTEC Higher National titles have been restructured to:

reect the aim, rationale, level, size and content of the qualication
be clear and distinctive
not duplicate or emulate existing Edexcel QCF qualications
be written in the correct QCF style.

Examples of BTEC Higher National titles


These are the formal QCF titles which will be used on all ofcial Edexcel documentation e.g. specications. They are
also the titles you will nd on ofcial external sources such as the Register of Regulated Qualications (RRQ).
In our communications with centres, we will use a shortened version of these titles for ease of use e.g.
BTEC Level 4 HNC in Performing Arts
BTEC Level 5 HND in Performing Arts.

BTEC Higher National units on the QCF at a glance


BTEC Higher National qualications on the QCF each have a level and a credit value, with Guided Learning Hours (GLH)
also allocated to each level:
Level: The levels for HNC (Level 4) and HND (Level 5) have been rationalised under the QCF, although the Rules of
Combination allow learners to include units from the level above and below as shown in the table.
Credit values: Each QCF unit normally earns 15 credits, although units can vary in size, usually in multiples of 5 credits.
In order to achieve a full qualication, learners must gain a minimum of 120 credits at Level 4 and 240 credits at Level 5.
Guided Learning Hours: The GLH for each level have been set at 480 GLH for HNC (Level 4) and 960 GLH for HND
(Level 5).

BTEC Higher Nationals on the QCF at a glance


Qualication title

Minimum
credit
value

Maximum
credit
value

30

65

120

55

L6

L3

30

65

120

125

175

30

Level
(NQF)

New Level
(QCF)

L3
BTEC Higher National
Certicate HNC

BTEC Higher National


Diploma HND

L4
L5

L4
L5

L4

L5

L6

Qualication
credit value

GLH

Minimum 120

480

Minimum 240

960

Mandatory units
Each BTEC Higher National will have a specied credit value of mandatory units that will comprise the key elements of
knowledge, skills and understanding dened in its qualication title. The minimum size of the mandatory unit credit will
normally be at least 30 credits out of 120 credits for HNC, and 60 credits out of 240 credits for HND. This value can vary
slightly if needed to meet sector specic requirements.
Mandatory units will provide:

a broad-based introduction to the qualication


the essential components of the qualication
the underpinning learning for the subject area
the springboard for further specialised study.

Specialist units
Specialist units will be used to add breadth and more focused knowledge, skills and understanding.
Specialist units will:
be more focused around an area of specialisation for a sector-specic eld of employment
build on the fundamentals introduced in the mandatory units
permit greater depth of learning
permit greater breadth of learning
provide a choice for centres, and the potential for choice for learners.

Meeting Local Needs (MLN) units


BTEC Higher Nationals are developed in consultation with centres, employers, professional bodies and/or the relevant
SSC/SSBs. The mandatory units are designed to meet the skill needs of the sector, and specialist units allow coverage of a
range of employments. Centres are expected to make maximum use of the choice available to them within the specialist
units in these specications to meet the needs of their learners.
It is possible that there will be some circumstances where the units contained in these specications will not enable
centres to meet a local need. In this situation, Edexcel will ensure that the Rules of Combination allow centres to make
use of credit transfer of units from other standard QCF BTEC Higher National specications and/or their own locally
devised specialist units. Any constraints will be specied in individual BTEC specications. Centres will be required to
ensure that the coherence and purpose of the qualication is retained, and ensure that its vocational focus and the
standard of the qualication is not diluted.

MLN - Edexcel BTEC Level 4 HNC Diploma


A maximum of 30 credits can be imported from other accredited QCF Edexcel BTEC Higher National qualications
(Levels 4/5) to meet local needs (MLN).

MLN - Edexcel BTEC Level 5 HND Diploma


A maximum of 60 credits can be imported from other accredited QCF Edexcel BTEC Higher National qualications
(Levels 4/5) to meet local needs (MLN).
Please note that in the design and Rules of Combination for the Edexcel-devised and QCF-accredited BTEC Higher
Nationals, agreed with the relevant Sector Skills Council, there may be units in the structure at Levels 3 and/or Level 6 in
addition to the Level 4 and 5 units. Only Level 4 and 5 QCF-accredited HN units may be added by centres through the
MLN process.

Locally devised specialist units


There may be exceptional circumstances where even the exibility of importing units from other specications does
not meet a particular local need. In this case, centres can seek permission from Edexcel to develop a unit, or units,
with Edexcel to meet this need. The cases where this will be allowable will be very limited. Edexcel will ensure that the
integrity of the qualication is not compromised, 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. The units will need to be submitted to Ofqual by Edexcel for inclusion in the QCF. If successful, units will
be assigned a credit value and included in the programme denition for the qualication.

Credit value of imported (MLN) and/or centre devised units


This is restricted to a maximum total of 30 credits at HNC, 60 credits at HND.
There are exceptions to these rules:

The HNC in Construction and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering) consists of all
mandatory units and therefore no other units can be imported into the qualication.

For the Higher National Certicates (HNCs) in Health and Social Care, the imported units
must be a maximum of 15 credits.

Assessment and grading


Current assessment approaches will be maintained with further exemplication and enhancement. Centres are
encouraged to use a wide range of methods appropriate to the learning outcomes and assessment criteria in the context
of a particular sector. Edexcel recognises that credit is awarded at a threshold level of achievement only, but will apply
grading arrangements to individual units as well as to the qualication as a whole. This will allow for the reward of merit
and distinction achievement according to published grading domains and criteria, and this in turn will allow Higher
Nationals to have overall grades beyond pass.

Unit grades
Learner performance in all BTEC Higher National units, irrespective of their credit value or level, will be graded Pass,
Merit or Distinction. Pass level will be the threshold grade meaning that all the learning outcomes have been achieved at
the level of the unit and the credit value of the unit can be awarded. Merit or Distinction grades will be used to recognise
a qualitative improvement, according to the published grading domains.

Qualication grades
All BTEC Higher National qualications will continue to have the achievement of learners expressed in a full qualication
prole of the units, their credit, level and grade. The eligibility of QCF credits toward each BTEC Higher National
qualication will be determined by its particular rule of combination.
In addition, achievement for each qualication will have an overall grade. The overall grades will be determined through
a points system and a table of pre-determined grade boundaries at Merit and Distinction (see Appendix 2 for details).

Average learner prole


The main cohorts of learners will be 18+ for HNC and 19+ for HND.
A successful BTEC Higher National learner will typically:
have the ability to provide evidence to show that they are capable of achieving realistic goals in a vocationally
related setting
have the ability to work both independently and as part of a team in a vocationally related setting
be a practical, can do person
develop higher level skills and the related knowledge and understanding required within an industry, or business sector,
as identied by the relevant employer, professional bodies or Sector Skills Council or Standards Setting Body (SSB).

Employer engagement
BTEC qualications and units will continue to be developed in close consultation/engagement with relevant employers
and in dialogue with SSCs, SSBs and professional institutions. Centres will be encouraged to design programmes that give
access to work placements and instil a sense of real-world to the study.

Transition from NQF to QCF


Centres will be able to move onto the QCF versions of the qualications in September 2010 or September 2011, and
must have moved to the new QCF qualications ready for rst teaching in September 2011. The last date for NQF
registration is 31st December 2010.

Appendices
Appendix 1
Edexcel Quality Assurance (QA) system
Appendix 2
Calculation of the qualication grade
Appendix 3
HN accreditation indicative timeline
Appendix 4
HN sectors by development phase

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Appendix 1

Quality assurance (QA)


of Edexcel BTEC Higher Nationals
Edexcels quality assurance system for all BTEC higher level programmes on the QCF at Levels 4-7 will ensure that
centres have effective quality assurance processes to review programme delivery. It will also ensure that the outcomes of
assessment are to national standards.
The quality assurance process for centres offering Edexcel BTEC higher level programmes on the QCF at Levels 4-7
comprises three key components.

Approval process

Approval to offer Edexcel BTEC Higher National qualications will vary depending on the status of the centre.
Centres that have a recent history of delivering Edexcel BTEC Higher National qualications and have an acceptable
quality prole in relation to their delivery will be able to gain approval through Edexcel Online.
Centres new to the delivery of Edexcel BTEC Higher National qualications will be required to seek approval through
the existing Edexcel qualication and centre approval process. Prior to approval being given, centres will be required to
submit evidence to demonstrate that they:

have the human and physical resources required for effective delivery and assessment
understand the implications for independent assessment and agree to abide by these
have a robust internal assessment system supported by t for purpose assessment documentation
have a system to internally verify assessment decisions, to ensure standardised assessment decisions are made
across all assessors and sites.

Such applications have to be supported by the head of the centre (principal, chief executive etc). and include a
declaration that the centre will operate the programmes strictly as approved and in line with Edexcel requirements.

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Monitoring of internal centre systems

Centres will be required to demonstrate ongoing fullment of the centre approval criteria over time and across all
programmes. The process that assures this is external examination, which is undertaken by Edexcels External Examiners.
Centres will be given the opportunity to present evidence of the ongoing suitability and deployment of their systems
to carry out the required functions. This includes the consistent application of policies affecting learner registrations,
appeals, effective internal examination and standardisation processes. Where appropriate, centres may present evidence
of their operation within a recognised code of practice, such as that of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher
Education. Edexcel reserves the right to conrm independently that these arrangements are operating to Edexcels
satisfaction.
Edexcel will afrm, or not, the ongoing effectiveness of such systems. Where system failures are identied, sanctions
(appropriate to the nature of the problem) will be applied in order to assist the centre in correcting the problem.

Independent assessment review

The internal assessment outcomes reached for all Edexcel BTEC higher level programmes on the Qualications
and Credit Framework at Levels 4-7 are subject to an independent assessment review by an Edexcel-appointed
External Examiner.
The outcomes of this process will be to:
conrm that internal assessment is to national standards and allow certication
or
make recommendations to improve the quality of assessment outcomes before certication is released
or
make recommendations about the centres ability to continue to be approved for the qualications in question.

Additional arrangement for ALL centres


Regardless of the type of centre, Edexcel reserves the right to withdraw either qualication or centre approval when
it deems there is an irreversible breakdown in the centres ability either to quality assure its programme delivery or its
assessment standards.

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Appendix 2

Calculation of the qualication


grade for HNCs and HNDs
How it works
The overall grade for a BTEC HNC or HND is a transparent process calculated through a combination of:
the credits allocated to each unit, and
the grade (Pass, Merit or Distinction) achieved for that unit.
As the learner progresses, each individual unit is assessed and awarded a grade Pass, Merit or Distinction.
Each unit grade then attracts points on a sliding scale:
Unit grade

Grade Points

Pass

Merit

Distinction

Once all the units are completed, the learners overall grade for the qualication is calculated in 3 steps:
1.

Multiply the QCF credits for each unit by the grade points achieved for that unit to calculate the individual unit
points score.

2.

Add up the all the unit points scores achieved to calculate the total points score for the qualication.

3.

Match the total points score against the Grade points table to calculate the nal grade for the qualication.

Pass qualication grade


Learners who achieve the minimum eligible credit value specied by the rule of combination will achieve the
qualication at pass grade.

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Qualication grades above Pass grade (Merit and Distinction)


Learners will be awarded a merit or distinction qualication grade by the aggregation of points gained through the
successful achievement of individual units. The grade of the qualication is based on the learners best performance
in units at the level or above of the qualication to the value of 75 credits.
The number of points available is dependent on the unit grade achieved and the credit size of the unit (as shown in
the Points available per credit at specied unit grades table below).

Points available per credit at specied unit grades


Points per credit
Pass

Merit

Distinction

Qualication grades for both Edexcel BTEC Level 4 HNC and


Edexcel BTEC Level 5 HND
Points range

Grade

0-74

Pass

75-149

Merit

150

Distinction

Moving from HNC to HND


If a learner moves from HNC to HND then credits from both the HNC and HND can contribute to the best 75 credits of
the overall HND grade.

Examples of possible learner proles of the best 75 credits at


the level of the qualication or above
These tables t both HNC and HND qualications.
Credits achieved at each
unit grade

Points per credit

Points scored

Pass

30

Merit

30

30

Distinction

15

30

Unit grade

Total
Qualication grade

60
Pass

14

Credits achieved at each


unit grade

Points per credit

Points scored

Pass

15

Merit

45

45

Distinction

15

30

Unit grade

Total

75

Qualication grade

Merit

Credits achieved at each


unit grade

Points per credit

Points scored

Pass

30

Merit

15

15

Distinction

30

60

Unit grade

Total

75

Qualication grade

Merit

Credits achieved at each


unit grade

Points per credit

Points scored

Pass

Merit

15

15

Distinction

60

120

Unit grade

Total

135

Qualication grade

Merit

Credits achieved at each


unit grade

Points per credit

Points scored

Pass

Merit

Distinction

75

150

Unit grade

Total
Qualication grade

150
Distinction

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Appendix 3

HN accreditation indicative timeline


Phase one accreditation

Date

Indicative volumes

Submission for nal review

January 2010

Accreditation

February 2010

13 sectors
80 titles
800 units

Teaching in centres

Phase two accreditations


Submission for nal review
Accreditation
Teaching in centres

September 2010 or September 2011

Date

Indicative volumes

March 2010

3 sectors
15 titles
115 units

April 2010
September 2010 or September 2011

Phase three accreditations

Date

Indicative volumes

Submission for nal review

December 2010

3 sectors
14 titles
295 units

Accreditation
Teaching in centres

Phase four accreditations


Submission for nal review
Accreditation
Teaching in centres

JanuaryFebruary 2011
September 2011

Date

Indicative volumes

December 2010

1 sector
4 titles
56 units

February 2011
September 2011

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Appendix 4

HN sectors by development phase


Phase one
Applied Biology and Applied Chemistry
Business
Computing and Systems Development
Construction and the Built Environment
Building Services Engineering

Civil Engineering

Engineering
Automotive Engineering
Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Electronic Engineering

General Engineering
Manufacturing Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Operations Engineering

Health and Social Care


Hospitality Management
Music
Sport and Sport and Exercise Sciences
Travel and Tourism Management

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Phase two
Art and Design
Art and Design
Fashion and Textiles
Fine Arts
Interactive Media

Photography
Graphic Design
3D Design

Engineering
Aeronautical Engineering
Creative Media Production
Performing Arts

Phase three
Engineering
Vehicle Operations Management
Land and Environment
Animal Management
Equine Management

Environmental Convservation
Horticulture

Hair & Beauty Management


Public Services

Phase four
Advanced Study in Early Years
Engineering
Marine Engineering

Nautical Science

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For more information please visit www.edexcel.com/quals/hn