You will take a minimum of 15 units (240 credits) to gain your diploma over the course of two to three years of study: 120 credits, 8 units in Level 4 (15 credits each unit) and 120 credits, 7 units in Level 5 (one 30-credit unit, and six 15-credit units).

Extra support modules customised to your needs might be added to the below units.

Level 4


15 credits

The aim of Programming involves describing processes and procedures which are derived from algorithms. The ability to program is what sets apart a developer and an end user. Typically the role of the developer is to instruct a device (such as a computer) to carry out instructions; the instructions are known as source code and is written in a language that is converted into something the device can understand. The device executes the instructions it is given. 
This unit introduces students to the core concepts of programming with an introduction to algorithms and the characteristics of programming paradigms. Among the topics included in this unit are: introduction to algorithms, procedural, object-orientated & event-driven programming, security considerations, the integrated development environment and the debugging process. Algorithms in a chosen language within a suitable Integrated Development Environment (IDE) will be used to develop and help track any issues with the code.


15 credits

The aim of this unit is to provide you with knowledge of security, associated risks and how security breaches impact on business continuity. You will examine security measures involving access authorisation, regulation of use, implementing contingency plans and devising security policies and procedures. This unit introduces you to the detection of threats and vulnerabilities in physical and IT security, and how to manage risks relating to organisational security. Among the topics included in this unit are Network Security design and operational topics, including address translation, DMZ, VPN, firewalls, AV and intrusion detection systems. Remote access will be covered, as will the need for frequent vulnerability testing as part of organisational and security audit compliance.


15 credits

The aim of this unit is to provide you with wider background knowledge of computer networking essentials, how they operate, protocols, standards, security considerations and the prototypes associated with a range of networking technologies. 
You will explore a range of hardware, with related software, and will configure and install these to gain knowledge of networking systems. A range of networking technologies will be explored to deliver a fundamental knowledge of Local Area Networking (LAN), Wide Area Networking (WAN) and their evolution to form large- scale networks and the protocol methodologies related to IP data networks will be explored. On successful completion of this unit, you will gain knowledge and skills to successfully install, operate and troubleshoot a small network; and the operation of IP data networks, router, switching technologies, IP routing technologies, IP services and basic troubleshooting. Supporting a range of units in the Higher National suite, this unit underpins the principles of networks for all and enables you to work towards your studies in vendor units, if applicable.


Website Design & Development*
15 credits

This unit introduces students to the underpinning services required to host, manage and access a secure website before introducing and exploring the methods used by designers and developers to blend back-end technologies (server-side) with front-end technologies (client-side). Among the topics included in this unit are: domain structure, domain name systems, web protocols, database servers, development frameworks, website publishing, content management, search engine optimisation, web browsers, HTML standards, CSS and CSS pre-processing (LESS, SASS), presentation models, responsive design, integrated development environments, user requirements, interface design, user experience, branding, navigation, optimisation and validation.


Professional Practice 

15 credits

The aim This unit provides a foundation for good practice in a variety of contexts. The ability to communicate effectively using different tools and mediums will ensure that practical, research, design, reporting and presentation tasks are undertaken professionally and in accordance with various communication conventions. 
Among the topics included in this unit are: the development of communication skills and communication literacy; the use of qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate analysis, reasoning and critical thinking; and tasks that require the integration of others within a team-based scenario and planning and problem-solving.


Managing a Successful Computing Project
15 credits

The aim of this unit is to offer you an opportunity to demonstrate the skills required for managing and implementing a project. You will undertake independent research and investigation for carrying out and executing a computing project which meets appropriate aims and objectives. On successful completion of this unit, you will have the confidence to engage in decision-making, problem-solving and research activities using project management skills. You will have the fundamental knowledge and skills to enable them to investigate and examine relevant computing concepts within a work-related context, determine appropriate outcomes, decisions or solutions and present evidence to various stakeholders in an acceptable and understandable format.


Database Design & Development
15 credits

The aim of this unit is to give you opportunities to develop an understanding of the concepts and issues relating to database design and development, as well as to provide the practical skills to translate that understanding into the design and creation of complex databases. Topics included in this unit are: examination of different design tools and techniques; examination of different development software options; considering the development features of a fully functional robust solution covering data integrity, data validation, data consistency, data security and advanced database querying facilities across multiple tables; appropriate user interfaces for databases and for other externally linked systems; creating complex reports/dashboards, testing the system against the user and system requirements; and elements of complete system documentation.


Strategic Information Systems*
15 credits

This unit introduces students to the importance of information to organisations. It will examine how systems can be used to support core business functions and enable organisations to be more productive and competitive within the global marketplace. Students will be required to analyse the information needs of an organisation at different levels and within different functional areas. It is important that computing professionals are able to understand how an organisation works and how it uses information in order to be able to design, implement, maintain and manage secure information systems to support its operations.Examination of different information systems at the operational, tactical and strategic levels will be required, in addition to evaluating their effectiveness and role in terms of decision making and gaining competitive advantage.

* Non-core modules

Level 5


Computing Research Project**
30 credits

This unit is assessed by a Pearson-set assignment. Students will choose their own project based on a theme provided by Pearson (this will change annually). The project must be related to their specialist pathway of study (unless the student is studying the general computing pathway). This will enable students to explore and examine a relevant and current topical aspect of computing in the context of a business environment and their chosen specialist pathway.
The aim of this unit is to offer students the opportunity to engage in sustained research in a specific field of study. The unit enables students to demonstrate the capacity and ability to identify a research theme, to develop research aims, objectives and outcomes, and to present the outcomes of such research in both written and verbal formats. The unit also encourages students to reflect on their engagement in the research process during which recommendations for future, personal development are key learning points.


Operating Systems*
15 credits

This unit introduces students to different operating systems such as DOS, Windows, UNIX and Linux. The topics covered are the tasks of operating systems such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritising system requests, controlling input and output devices, facilitating data networking and managing files, including security and protection.
Among the topics included in this unit are: the history and evolution of Operating Systems; the definition of an Operating System; why Operating Systems are needed; how Operating Systems started and developed; Operating Systems management roles; management of memory, processes, processors, devices and files; security and protection: user security, device, application and process protection; inter-process communication; comparison of Operating Systems; distributed and networked systems; concurrent systems; multi-user systems; graphical interface systems; and practical application of Operating Systems: user interface commands of major Operating Systems; installations and extensions of Operating Systems.


Computing/Business Intelligence
15 credits

Business intelligence has evolved from technologies such as decision support systems (DSS) to include tools and methods associated with data mining, data integration, data quality and data warehousing in conjunction with other information management systems and applications. This unit introduces students to a range of tools, techniques and technologies for acquiring data and processing this into meaningful information that can be used to support business functions and processes.
Within this unit students will examine the concept of business processing in terms of data capture, conversion and information output. Students will also be required to define the tools and technologies associated with business intelligence functionality. The use of a business intelligence tool/s and techniques is also required to demonstrate an understanding of a given problem. Finally, students will be expected to evaluate the impact of business intelligence for effective decision-making.


Systems Analysis and Design*
15 credits

This unit explores the processes of systems analysis and design using two methodologies – the traditional systems development lifecycle methodology providing a comprehensive structured framework and the agile methodology with different framework models developed with the emphasis on variations of iterative incremental modelling. To provide perspective, students will examine the models in both these methodologies. They will consider the particular strengths and weaknesses of the two methodologies and examine the suitability of the methodologies using different examples.Topics included in this unit are: examining the business case for a new system or for upgrading an existing one, looking at traditional and agile systems analysis methodologies and evaluating the merits of each, considering the implications of moving from using the traditional methods of analysis and design to agile methods on analysts, designers and developers in an organisation, and applying systems design tools and techniques.


Application Program Interfaces
15 credits

Many applications in use today are a composite of other software. This is true of an application, be it web based, mobile or on a desktop where the functionality of another is used to build upon. Think of an application that locates nearby restaurants – this may utilise an already existing map service as its basis. Or a game application that enables players to invite other players, chat and post high scores to social media all within the game environment. How an application interacts with another is through an Application Program Interface (API).
Typically, APIs consist of methods and tools which are developed by the software author and can provide services and functionality to other application developers without having to ‘reinvent the wheel’. Existing APIs provide a huge range of functionality which can be integrated into an application by following the rules of the relevant API. One of the benefits in using APIs is access to existing and proven services that can help speed up development and help standardisation.
The aim of this unit is to introduce students to the nature of APIs by developing proof- of-concept application that utilises existing APIs for common tasks that can include communication, displaying interactive visuals, audio playback and handling a range of user inputs.
Among the topics included in this unit are: identifying what an API is and the need for APIs; types of APIs; application design and development utilising relevant APIs in a suitable development environment; testing of the application; and a critical review of the APIs used.


15 credits

A prototype is the first or early sample, model or demonstration version of a concept, design or idea used to test functionality and gather feedback. The objective of prototyping is to build a functional and demonstrable version of a concept and use this version to evaluate different aspects of the concept with end users. A prototype may test a single or multiple facets of a concept and can range in functionality from very basic design mock-ups to fully functional features within complex software applications.This unit introduces students to the role, basic concepts and benefits of prototyping in the design and development process of software applications. The aim of this unit is to enhance a student’s understanding of the methodology, terminology and benefits of prototyping in the design and development of secure software applications.
Among the topics included in this unit are: classification and terminology of prototyping tools and techniques, the relationship between prototypes and release candidate software applications, how prototypes differ from release candidate software applications, categorising prototypes by their intended target end user, functionality and testing requirements, methods of prototyping, most appropriate forms of prototype for the different categories of testing, gathering meaningful insights and results from prototype testing, software release lifecycle and software prototyping concepts.


Application Development
15 credits
Software drives business and developers drive software – the world is reliant on software, and programming is at the heart of this. Professionalism and critical thinking, supported by an ability to work independently and as part of a team are core skills of a developer. If you can think logically and you enjoy exploring and dismantling problems, working with others to consider requirements and creating ideas and possible solutions you can gain the experience and learn the skills needed to excel as an Application Developer.
This unit introduces students to Application Development and is designed to simulate the roles and responsibilities of a commercial developer working in a suitable business environment with access to a small team of colleagues. Initially, students are introduced to a business-related problem and will need to adopt and use appropriate methods and practices to analyse, break down and discuss the issues – then, decide, design, create and test a possible solution. Students should be free to debate, evaluate and select different design and development methodologies depending on their own judgement and consideration. On completion, students will be expected to formally evaluate their final application against their design plans and initial requirements.
Among the topics included in this unit are: design and developer documentation; problem analysis; research, system and user requirements; design methodologies and principles; security considerations; development methodologies; Unified Modelling Language (UML), software development lifecycles; teamwork, peer-reviews, development tools and techniques; integrated development environments; debugging, testing, software versions and quality assurance