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Business & Computing

Computing - Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA)

Start Date: 13th September 2021
Code: PHPB1725


Duration: 3 years Full-time
Start date: 13th September 2021
End date: 5th June 2024
Information Event: Y

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.

Brian Lyons, lecturer, provides an overview of the Higher Level Apprenticeship in Computing.


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

Year 1

  • Programming 1 (Python)
  • Personal Development and Professional Practice
  • Database Systems
  • Programming 2 (Java)

Year 2

  • Interactive Web Design
  • Mathematics for Computing
  • Web Applications Development
  • Computer Technology

Year 3

  • Cyber Security
  • Software Project Development
  • Work-based learning (with your employer)

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 that due to redevelopments at Ballymena (Farm Lodge) campus some courses may be relocated to alternative suitable locations.

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 48 UCAS points or above.

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 by 10th August, as an application deadline will apply.

Please note if a course is over-subscribed the College reserves the right to enhance the entry criteria.

Upon successful completion of the Higher Level Apprenticeship, you may be able to continue your studies by working towards a BSc Degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering or progress into more senior roles with your employer.

Farm Lodge Buildings
BT43 7DF
028 2565 2871


Brian Lyons

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