HND Digital Technologies (AI Solutions & Applications)

Course overview

The Pearson HND in Digital Technologies (Artificial Intelligence Solutions & Applications pathway) is a higher technical qualification (HTQ) that helps you develop as a professional, self-reflecting individual, able to meet the demands of employers.

You can find out more about higher technical qualifications here:

This programme, as a Higher Technical Qualification, is approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and developed with employers. A Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) from Activate Learning provides an alternative high-quality route for you to gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in your career. 


HTQs are qualifications at Level 4 or Level 5, including Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Foundation Degrees, and are approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviour sought after by employers. 

The units during Year 1 lay the foundation of learning by providing a broad introduction to digital technologies and to a range of digital technology specialist functions. This develops and strengthens core skills, while preparing you to study specialist subjects during the second year at Level 5 or to enter employment with the qualities necessary for job roles that require some personal responsibility. 

You will gain a wide range of knowledge tied to practical skills gained through research, independent study, directed study and workplace scenarios. You will be involved in vocational activities that help you to develop vocational behaviour (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 the workplace. You will be competent in a range of subject-specific skills as well as general skills and qualities relevant to key areas of digital-technology-related business. 

The aims of this Pearson BTEC Higher Nationals in Digital Technologies are to:

  • give students the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to achieve high performance in the national and international digital technologies environment.
  • develop students with enquiring minds, who have the abilities and confidence to work across different digital technologies functions and to lead, manage, respond to change, and tackle a range of complex digital technologies.
  • provide the core skills required for a range of careers in digital technologies, including cyber security, software development, data analytics, networking, animation, software testing, business analysis and change management.
  • offer a balance between employability skills and the knowledge essential for students with entrepreneurial, employment or academic ambitions.
  • develop students’ understanding of the major impact that digital technologies have on the business environment.
  • provide insight into digital technology operations and the opportunities and challenges presented by a global marketplace.
  • equip students with knowledge and understanding of culturally diverse organisations, cross-cultural issues, diversity and values.
  • allow flexible study to meet local and specialist needs.

    We understand the unique needs of students studying online; we appreciate that they may be juggling work, family, and other commitments, and at Activate Learning we are experienced in supporting people in those situations. We have a dedicated team of Higher Education Study Support Tutors who are on hand if you need additional help. 

    This qualification is also delivered on campus at our Reading College and University Centre, and at City of Oxford College and University Centre (Technology Campus). 

    The HND in Digital Technologies also offers other pathways including: Cyber Security, Cloud Networking, Software Development and Programming, Data Analytics, Digital Communications Management and Business Analytics & Change Management.

    When you study with Activate Learning, you will belong to a group of students studying the HND and have regular one to ones, group interactions and taught sessions with a team of highly qualified and experienced teachers with business experience. 


You will study sixteen units in total:

Year 1

  • Professional Practice in the Digital Economy – will provide you with a foundation for good practice in a variety of contexts and an opportunity for you to examine the evolution and impact of digital technologies on work environments.
  • Innovation & Digital Transformation – will look at a number of tools and techniques that organisations use to transform and become more innovative in their approach. These include frameworks and related elements such as operational agility, culture, leadership, customer experience, and integration of digital technology.
  • Cyber Security – designed to develop your knowledge and understanding in relation to cyber threats and vulnerabilities, cyber defence techniques and incident response. You will explore fundamental principles as well as leading-edge concepts, terminologies, models and hardening methods. You will assess the types of malicious activity and potential targets, and the role everyone has in maintaining cyber resilience.
  • Programming – introduces you to the core concepts of programming, along with an introduction to algorithms and the characteristics of programming paradigm.
  • Big Data & Visualisation – introduces you to the concepts of big data and visualisation and how this is used for decision making. You will explore the industry software solutions available for investigating and presenting data, before assessing the role and responsibility of data specialists in the current environment.
  • Cloud Fundamentals – designed to develop an understanding of the fundamental concepts of cloud computing and cloud deployment models, and the need for cloud computing. You will develop an appreciation of the issues associated with managing cloud service architecture and develop critical awareness of the ramifications of cloud computing-based projects.
  • Software Development Lifecycles – you will be introduced to lifecycle decision making at different stages of the software development process. You will examine various lifecycle models and learn to appreciate their particular characteristics in order to understand for which project environments they are most appropriate. Theoretical understanding will be translated into practical skills through an actual software development lifecycle project. You will become confident in the use of particular tools and techniques relevant to a chosen methodology.
  • Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Intelligent Systems – designed to introduce the science behind machine intelligence and the philosophical debate around the ambitions of simulating human intelligence to solve real-world problems. You will be guided to appreciate AI types and applications and develop a better understanding of aspects related to intelligent agents. Other topics included in the unit cover Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), Ambient Intelligence, the major differences between top-down and bottom-up approaches to AI and understanding Machine Learning (ML) algorithms (for example SVM, Naïve Bayes, Random Forest and KNN) and processes, including dataset preparation. 

Year 2

  • Business Intelligence – you will be introduced 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. You will also examine the concept of business processing in terms of data capture, conversion and information output. You will be required to define the tools and technologies associated with business intelligence functionality. 
  • Internet of Things – will introduce you to the role, basic concepts and benefits of IoT in the design and development process of computer applications. The key aim of the unit is to enhance understanding of the methodology, terminology and benefits of IoT in the design and development of software applications. 
  • Emerging Technologies – you will be introduced to the role, benefits, disadvantages and potential outcomes that emerging technologies have in the development of software applications and business practices. The aim of the unit is to enhance your understanding of the current types, terminology, advantages, disadvantages, potential impact and benefits of emerging technologies.
  • Application Development – introduces you to application development. It 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, you will be 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. You will be free to debate, evaluate and select different design and development methodologies, depending on your own judgement and consideration.
  • Risk Analysis and System Testing – introduces you to prioritising testing software features according to risk of failure, evaluated as a function of criticality or importance and impact of failure. 
  • Application Program Interfaces – will introduce you to the nature of APIs by developing a proof-of-concept application that utilises existing APIs for common tasks, such as 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. 
  • Work-based Learning in the Digital Economy – will provide you with a framework and the opportunity to reflect on and contextualise the learning you gain from working in the industry. In coordination with tutors and an employer, you will define the scope, duration, and content of your expected work-based learning experience. Throughout the period of you work based learning experience, you will be expected to record their experience and reflect on your learning. 
  • Digital Sustainability – you will gain a wide range of knowledge and understanding of the issues and topics associated with sustainability and low impact digital technology solutions. You will also explore the interdisciplinary context of sustainability and how the development of a low carbon economy is essential in the digital technology sector.

The HND will also help you develop your academic writing and research skills providing you with the opportunity develop transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving. 

Further details about this course are available in the course specification which can be found here

Teaching and Assessment

This course is will consist of workshops and seminars along with a range of learning materials. You will learn through research, independent study, directed study and workplace scenarios. By participating in vocational activities, you will develop key behaviour and transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, research, and analysis. Plus, you’ll be supported by a friendly, committed, and qualified team of lecturers who have both professional and teaching experience.

You will be assessed through a mixture of written assignments, group assessment, peer assessment, portfolio assessment and practice-related coursework. You will also be supported with a wide range of learning resources made available via Activate Learning’s Online Learning Environment (ALO), including access to textbooks, articles, and multimedia content.


You will have a range of support made available to you, including academic and pastoral support, learning support and access to additional support funds (if eligible). Please see our Support Pages for further information.

Additional study support 

Whether you have a recognised disability, specific learning difficulty, or not, you will be eligible to access additional learning support in all the following areas:

  • assistive software training
  • IT upskilling
  • essay planning and structure
  • proofreading and editing written work
  • bibliographies and referencing
  • time management and personal organisation
  • revision and exam tips
  • presentation techniques

Applicants will be expected to possess one of the following: 

  • A minimum of 64 UCAS points, or
  • Relevant Access to Higher Education Diploma, or
  • Level 3 in Computing or Business or other related subject, or
  • T Level at Pass in a related subject

Along with a GCSE grade 4 or above in maths and also in English. Other L2 qualifications in English and maths may be accepted. Those who do not have a GCSE in maths and/or English will be required to undertake a pre-entry assessment to ensure suitability for the programme.

We are committed to creating educational opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds and situations. If you have been out of formal education for some time, and/or you do not have the qualifications stated, we might still be able to consider your application and offer you a range of support. We are here to help. Please get in touch to find out more. 

Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate that their level of English is acceptable by achieving a score in a recognised test such as: 

  • Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level B2
  • PTE Academic 51, or
  • IELTS 5.5 (reading and writing must be at 5.5)

On successful completion of this course, you can progress on to a BSc (Hons) Top Up degree (subject to meeting entry requirements). 

Career opportunities could include becoming a Software Tester & Software Developer.

Applicants should apply online through the Activate Learning website.

Tuition Fees
Fees for September 2024 entry are £6,500 per year for UK students. 

Please note: Tuition fees are published for the first year of entry only and may increase in subsequent years for new students in line with an inflationary amount determined by the Office for Students. 

There are a variety of funding options available to help finance your studies. If you are a UK (Home) student, you don’t have to pay your tuition fees up front; the government provides loans to cover your full tuition fee. You may also be eligible for a maintenance loan to help cover living costs. Alternatively, your fees may be paid by your employer, or we could arrange a payment schedule if you are paying your own fees. 

Additional costs 

Students are advised that they will need access to a laptop or PC. We recommend that you budget c£100 a year additional costs such as for stationary to undertake your studies. You can borrow textbooks and access journals from the recommended reading lists from our Learning Resource Centres either physically on campus or in the majority of cases online. If you choose to purchase textbooks, they may cost up to c£60 each. 

Course Starts in 60 Days
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