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Business & Computing

Computing - Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA)

Start Date: 16th September 2024
Code: PHPB1725


Duration: 3 years Part-time
Start date: 16th September 2024
End date: 2nd June 2027
Day: Tue
Time: 09:00-21:00
Information Event: Yes

Course fee: FREE

Course Content

A Higher Level Apprenticeship is a work-based programme which helps you to learn while you earn, and gain a recognised qualification. Working with your employer for four days per week, you attend college one day per week, and undertake a Foundation Degree in Computing, that is validated by Ulster University.

Across three years, you will undertake modules in programming, using databases, web and mobile app development, and much more. As well as developing your technical skills, other specialist modules underpin your professional development, giving you the personal skills that you need to succeed in the Computing industries.

This course is specifically aimed either at new employees who want to start work before undertaking a full-time degree course, or at existing IT employees whose roles are changing significantly. The qualification articulates into Ulster University's Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering, for apprentices who wish to further progress their learning.

Given the demand for IT personnel across all sectors of the economy, Higher Level Apprenticeships provide an excellent pathway for people who want to gain a higher qualification, without running up the levels of debt associated with attending university full-time.

This course was revalidated by Ulster University in 2019.  Modules include:

Year 1

  • Programming Fundamentals (Python)
  • Web Development
  • Database Design and Development
  • Object-Oriented Programming (Java)

Year 2

  • Mathematics for Computing
  • Computer Technologies
  • Cyber Security
  • Event Driven Programming

Year 3

  • IOT Development
  • Cloud Computing
  • Work-Based Learning 

Special Features

To facilitate students learning in their own time, students are entitled to free Microsoft software for use at home via our Microsoft Imagine programme. This includes Software Development, Web Development, the latest Microsoft Operating Systems and Microsoft Office. HLA students will also have free access to LinkedIn Learning courses.

Additionally, students will also work towards Professional Qualifications from the Microsoft Office Specialist programme and optionally may undertake Microsoft Technology Associate Certification. 

Assessment Methods

The modules are assessed with a challenging blend of examinations and coursework. The course provides a fantastic opportunity to enter the exciting and well-paid IT industry, both locally and worldwide. 

Many assessments in the course are structured on real-life industry scenarios that students will face in their future careers. There are opportunities to meet software professionals, regular industrial visits and guest speakers. An additional module to enhance your employability is also be included as part of the programme. This programme of study is likely to include enrichment components which are aimed at enhancing your employability.

Course Update

Please note from September 2025, all Ballymena courses are planned to move to the new Ballymena campus at Farm Lodge.

Candidates must:

  • Be at least 18 years on or before 1 July in the year you start your course and must satisfy the general entry requirements. 
  • Achieved GCSE Maths grade C or above, plus English grade C or above (or Essential Skills in English at Level 2), plus Level 3 qualifications that are equivalent to 56 UCAS points or above.
  • Be a new employee in, or about to take up a permanent remunerative employment offer, or an existing employee moving to a new job role that requires a substantial amount of learning and skills development commensurate to the apprenticeship pathway. An exception may be made if an individual is already on an apprenticeship pathway at a lower level, with the HLA providing a progression route without the need to move to a new job role. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure this criteria is met.
  • Be employed by a company with a permanent base in Northern Ireland, have a contract of employment in place, be contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week (which includes day release/off-the-job directed training) with one employer, and in receipt of the appropriate wage.
  • Have achieved all necessary entry qualifications determined by the relevant sector.
  • Pass any entry tests specified by the relevant sector.
  • Be the minimum school leaving age in Northern Ireland.
    NOTE: you may start your employment up to a maximum of 6 months prior to the commencement of your off-the-job training.  The College will require a copy of your contract of employment and a wage slip to provide evidence that you are employed.

Third country nationals, including European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss Nationals and their family members, are eligible to undertake a HLA provided they have a right to live and work in the UK.  See HLA page for further details.

Where mature students wish to have prior education and/or experience taken into account, in lieu of meeting the full course entry requirements, they should contact the relevant Course Director or Admissions by 12th August, as an application deadline will apply.  It is at the College's discretion to consider APEL enquiries after the dates stated.


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