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HNC in Mechanical Engineering (HTQ) Year 1

The Higher National qualification in Mechanical Engineering (HTQ) offers an advanced work-related curriculum focussing on professional and technical education. The program aligns with IfATE standards, ensuring graduates are equipped with industry-relevant skills for the workplace or further higher education.

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Course Summary

Subject Area: Engineering
Higher Education
Location: The Roundhouse
Full Time or Part Time: PT
Level: 4
Number Of Years: 2
Interview Required?: Y
Weeks: 36
Hours: 9.00
Start: 09/09/2024
Tuition: £4250 Per Year
The Roundhouse

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Course Information for Students

The Higher National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering is a two-year part-time course which enables you to study modules as standalone options or as part of the one of the Level 4 higher apprenticeship standards. This broad focus enables you to complement your professional experience with a strong grasp of the underpinning principles that support a successful career in engineering.

The Level 4 units lay the foundation of learning by providing a broad introduction to the engineering sector as well as a focused introduction to mechanical engineering. This develops and strengthens core skills while preparing students for more specialist subjects at Level 5, degree level or to enter employment with the qualities necessary for job roles that require some personal responsibility.

Students will gain a wide range of scientific and engineering knowledge linked to practical skills obtained through research, independent study, directed study and workplace scenarios. Students are involved in vocational activities that help them to develop behaviours (the attitudes and approaches required for a competence) and transferable skills. Transferable skills are those such as communication, teamwork, research and analysis, which are highly valued in higher education and in the workplace.

By the end of Level 4 study, students will have sound knowledge of the basic concepts of mechanical engineering. They will be competent in a range of subject specific skills as well as in general skills and qualities relevant to these key areas of engineering.

Working in the industry and studying at the same time will require you to have good time management and organisational skills. However, it should also offer you the opportunity to utilise the skills you have learned in your professional practice. Your own industrial practice will be a welcome asset to promote experiential learning and peer support throughout the course.

Please note this qualification is a Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ). HTQs are quality marked by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. 

For more information on HTQs, please visit:

You need to be highly motivated and should have at least one of the following:

● A Level 3 qualification with an overall grade equivalent of “Merit”. This could be a Level 3 qualification in Engineering or engineering-related field, or three A-levels in relevant subjects. An international equivalent  is also accepted.

● Relevant work/industrial experience of five years (full-time). If this work experience is not supported by education qualifications such as GCSEs, then a minimum proficiency in Maths and English at Level 2 will need to be evidenced.

Offers of a place on the course are dependent on your achieved qualifications and successful interview.

Please note that in line with the Consumer Act and as articulated in our Student Protection Plan, we reserve the right to close a course, if there are insufficient students to make the course viable.

This qualification comprises 480 guided learning hours (GLH), awards 120 credits and consists of eight units. The eight units consist of three core mandatory units and five specialist mandatory units, each unit contributing 15 credits. Four are delivered each year. 

The units for the HNC in Mechanical Engineering include:

  • Unit 4001: Engineering Design
  • Unit 4002: Engineering Maths
  • Unit 4004: Managing a Professional Engineering Project (Pearson-set)
  • Unit 4008: Mechanical Principles
  • Unit 4011: Fluid Mechanics
  • Unit 4013: Fundamentals of Thermodynamics and Heat Engines
  • Unit 4014: Production Engineering for Manufacture
  • Unit 4017: Quality and Process Improvement

This course is delivered on-site at the Roundhouse campus. It is part time which means you will attend College one day a week. The course has 480 guided learning hours. Guided learning hours mean activities that directly or immediately involve tutors and assessors in teaching, supervising and invigilating students, for example lectures, tutorials, online instruction and supervised study.

The core higher education academic year will be for a duration of thirty-six weeks for the purposes of maintenance loans. You will receive a proportion of this time as direct delivery with any additional time, as deemed appropriate by the programme team and the awarding body, for activities such as: induction, tutorials, research, directed study and reading weeks etc. The direct delivery time for this course will be thirty-two weeks.

Students are expected to undertake private study, preparation for assessment and undertaking assessment when not under supervision, such as preparatory reading, revision and independent research in order to complete and show achievement for the qualification. 

We work closely with our partners to engage them in the design and delivery of the curriculum where possible. This includes guest lectures from industry specialists, professional bodies and visiting academics.

During your study of this course, you will attend academic and study skills tutorials and have access to the College’s ‘HE 360˚ Hub’ which aims to enhance HE learning and provide you with easy access to information and advice. The ‘HE 360˚ Hub’ consists of four support services:

  • Higher Education (HE) Academic Coaches who work collaboratively with HE students offering confidential, personalised support to help you develop the academic skills you need for your course.
  • Library services with a collection of core textbooks and journals (both physical and digital resources).
  • Careers and Employability Advice.
  • Inclusion and Support: whatever your inclusion need (learning difficulty or disability) we can work with you, develop your use of assistive technology and – where needed – help you apply for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA).

In addition to the above, the Engineering Department at DCG offers HE students access to industry-standard software.

Every term there is a Programme Committee Meeting (PCM) where the HE course leader, HE teaching staff, and student representatives review the management, delivery and assessment of the curriculum. This is an ongoing process where we aim to improve the quality of the course.

Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals are also supported by a specially designed range of digital resources, to ensure that students have the best possible experience during the course. These are available from the HN Global website, 

You will need to purchase a scientific calculator and have access to a computer or laptop with Internet, Windows 7 Operating System or above, and Microsoft Office 2010 or above. The purchase of appropriate books and e-books is encouraged and guidance on which books to purchase will be given by subject specialists.

Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals are assessed using a combination of:

  • Centre-developed internal assignments that are set and assessed by centres, and
  • Pearson-set assignments, which are set by centres in line with the awarding body guidelines and graded by centres.

Pearson-set units are mandatory and target particular industry-specific skills. For this HNC, the College will assess one compulsory Pearson-set unit targeted at particular skills, which is Managing a Professional Engineering Project. This is a Level 4 core unit carrying 15 credits. The other seven units are assessed and graded by the College.

For your course assessments, you will produce academic reports and undertake technical assignments where you will have the opportunity to solve technical problems closely aligned with industrial, commercial and domestic construction scenarios. Evidence for some of the assessments will be generated through a range of activities, including academic reports, practical performance, verbal presentations and tasks/projects completed both individually and as part of a team.

The grade awarded to each unit is dependent on the level of achievement attained by the student for each of the assessment criteria related to that specific unit. The assessment criteria for a unit are based on a hierarchy. For example, if a Merit criterion requires the student to show ‘analysis’ and the related Pass criterion requires the student to ‘explain’, then to gain a Merit the student will need to cover both ‘explain’ and ‘analyse’. 

  • To achieve a Pass, a student must have satisfied all the Pass criteria for the unit’s learning outcomes, showing coverage of the unit content and therefore attainment at Level 4 of the national framework.
  • To achieve a Merit, a student must have satisfied all the Merit criteria (and therefore the Pass criteria) through high performance in each learning outcome.
  • To achieve a Distinction, a student must have satisfied all the Distinction criteria (and therefore the Pass and Merit criteria), and these define outstanding performance across the unit as a whole.

A Pass cannot be awarded just because the student has completed all the assignments. Students must meet all the Pass criteria. If they do not, their grade should be reported as ‘unclassified’. 

After completion of assessments, each individual unit will be awarded a grade of either Distinction (D), Merit (M), Pass (P), or Unclassified (U). Units that have been attempted but not achieved will appear as ‘Unclassified’, i.e. a ‘U’ grade, on the student’s Notification of Performance that is issued with the student certificate.

If a student fails to achieve a Pass for a unit following reassessment, the assessment board may agree that they can repeat the unit. Students can repeat a unit once only. In this case:

  • the student must pay the unit fee and study the unit again, with full attendance.
  • the grade for the unit (if successfully completed) will be capped at a Pass.

To achieve a Pearson BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate qualification a student must have: 

  • completed 8 units equivalent to 120 credits at Level 4.
  • achieved at least a Pass in 105 credits at Level 4 (i.e. passed 7 of the 8 units).

The calculation of the overall qualification grade is based on the student’s performance in all units. Students are awarded a Pass, Merit or Distinction overall qualification grade, based on unit achievement, and using the points gained through all 120 credits.

The table below shows the number of points available for completed units based on the grade awarded:

Points per grade per each unit of size 15 credits
Unclassified (U)Pass (P)Merit (M)Distinction (D)

The sum of the points from the 8 units will decide the qualification overall grade as illustrated in the table below:

Overall grade calculation for the BTEC HNC (120 credits)
Grade*Points threshold
Pass420 – 599 
Merit600 – 839 

*Please note that students can still be awarded an HNC if they have not achieved a Pass in one of the 15-credit units completed but have completed and passed the remaining seven units. Learners who do not meet the minimum requirements to be awarded a qualification grade may receive a Notification of Performance for the individual units they completed.

The purpose of BTEC HNC in Mechanical Engineering is to develop students as professional, self-reflecting individuals able to meet the demands of employers in the engineering sector and adapt to a constantly changing world. The qualification aims to widen access to higher education and enhances the career prospects of those who undertake it. 

You could progress to a Level 5/degree level qualification or apprenticeship in a related discipline, drawing on the broad knowledge base you will have gained from this course.


For more information, contact Derby College Group on 0800 0280289 or

In line with the Consumer Act and our Student Protection Plan, we reserve the right to close a course if there are insufficient student numbers to make the course financially viable.

Course Information for Employers

If you are an employer and would like to know more about the apprenticeships and professional training we deliver or how you can get involved in co-creating and co-delivering the curriculum, please contact us via email on, call us on 01332 387 421 or visit our employer pages here.

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Course Information Last Updated On: June 12, 2024 1:42 pm