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After University

Study Options - HND


A Higher National Diploma is best described as a two-year full-time or three-year part-time course, which once completed can lead to entry on the final year of a course. HND courses are vocational in nature as they prepare you for careers in specific areas of industry.

What does a HND involve?

The HND course is composed of sixteen , which are spread out over four (terms), typically containing four units in each semester. You must successfully complete eight units in the first year in order to progress to the second year. In the event that you fail one or more units within the first year you will be permitted to continue only once you have successfully completed the failed units.

As with all courses of study the final year can be more difficult. The results attained in the first and second year modules of a HND course can be used to determine whether you have the ability required to move on to the degree course following the publication of final results.

The work undertaken is likely to be significantly based on practical and quite often involves a , which you will be marked on collectively and as an individual.

What is a part time HND?

A part time HND as the name suggests is the same HND course but spread out in a way that is more beneficial to those students that can only devote part of their time to study. Taking the HND part-time is usually best suited for those students who have social commitments, work long hours or have children. Part time HND courses are generally spread out over a three-year period as opposed to the full time HND course which is taken over two years.

The HND grading system

Before starting the HND course it is important that understand the way in which grades for assignments, units and even your overall HND grade will be calculated.

To many students the HND grading scheme will appear quite different to what you may be used to; particularly if you have taken a HND after studying . The manner in which grades are awarded is shown in the table below:

Pass 40%-60%
Merit 60%-70%
Distinction 70%+

You must achieve at least a minimum of a Pass grade in all assignments.

HND - The associated advantages

The HND course is associated with numerous advantages that generally make it an attractive option for many students. These advantages are listed below:

  • The HND safety net - Rather than going straight onto a course students often choose to complete a HND course first. The advantage of this is that if you went straight into a degree course and were unsuccessful you would leave without any . However, successfully completing a HND course first will ensure that you have a qualification to fall back on.
  • Experience & familiarity - Successfully completing a HND course before undertaking a degree means that you will already have two years experience of life. Also you will have an excellent familiarity of your University in terms of resources, and other students. In your two years of study you will have also become more confident and comfortable with your chosen subject, and consequently developed an interest for further study.
  • HND courses are Vocational - The HND course that you have decided to undertake will undoubtedly be geared towards the occupation that you wish to do subsequent to studying at University.
  • Key skills - The units of which the HND course is comprised cover all the key skills that you will need when you eventually look for work. Namely working as an individual, working within a team environment as well as completing both written and oral .

HND - The associated disadvantages

As with any course there are bound to be disadvantages, and the HND course is no exception. The disadvantages associated with the HND course are listed below:

  • - The HND course is run by the University but is provided by the , thus there is an additional registration fee on top of the that you will pay. You must pay this registration fee direct to your University and they will pass it on to the BTEC group.
  • Books - As stated earlier the HND course is comprised of sixteen units, many of which will be separate topics of study and may or may not each require their own .

In what situation is a HND the most suitable choice?

The HND course is the most suitable choice for you if you are a student who feels that they are not ready to undertake a . A HND can be an extremely effective way to prepare you for a degree course at a later stage in your academic life, as it allows you to gain confidence in your own abilities as well as gain experience and familiarity with your choice of study.

What will you achieve at the end of a HND course?

When you have successfully completed your HND course you will receive a certificate to certify that you have followed and completed a HND course in a recognised area of study. You will also receive a number of , typically one credit for each unit that you successfully completed. These credits are recognised by other Universities and can be used when applying for a at another .

Life after the HND

Subsequent to completing the course students may be unsure as to what to do next in their careers. In such a situation students will have three options namely undertaking a top-up degree, taking a year out or joining the workforce. The year out and starting work options are dealt with in another section on this site. The top-up degree below is discussed below.

Top-up degree - The is a fast track onto the degree, whereby the student must complete a further eight units in order to achieve a degree . The units that comprise the top-up degree will be more involved and complicated, and you may also find that the ratio of a unit consisting of coursework decreases dramatically.

Successfully completing a HND does not guarantee entry on to the top-up degree course. Whether or not you can progress to the top-up degree rests with the agreeing that you are able to cope with the extra work.

Additional Information

Before making any decision as to whether you should or should not undertake the course you should assess your situation, and ask yourself the question "Am I ready for a degree course? If the answer to this question is a resounding 'No', then the HND course is the most suitable option for you.
As with any course of study you will need to consider all of the above mentioned areas before reaching an informed decision that is right for you!