West Thames College London

Applied Biology - Higher National Certificate/Diploma (HNC/HND)

Programme Specification

The Level 4 HNC and Level 5 HND in Applied Biology provide a specialist work-related programme of study that covers the key knowledge, understanding and practical skills required in the applied biology sector and also offers particular specialist emphasis through the choice of specialist units.

BTEC Higher Nationals provide nationally recognised qualifications offering career progression and professional development for those already in employment and opportunities to progress into higher education. The qualifications are made up of compulsory units and specialist units studied in one-year HNC and two-year HND programmes for Applied Biology qualifications.

The course aims to:

  • Provide a taught programme of study to support students in learning new skills and in developing their individual practice, within the culturally diverse environment of west London
  • Provide tutorial support to help students develop their educational and vocational abilities, and the personal qualities and attitudes required to adapt to the demands of an ever changing biological science field.

You will learn to:

  • work as an individual and in teams to perform successfully in a biologically-based industrial environment
  • communicate effectively and appropriately
  • accept supervisory management responsibilities in an appropriate context
  • develop personal qualities and attributes essential for successful performance in working life
  • think independently, take responsibility for your learning and recognise your learning style
  • think laterally and be innovative and creative in relevant contexts
  • develop an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of science
  • be flexible and respond to the changing climate within the scientific community
  • recognise the moral and ethical issues of scientific enquiry and experimentation and
  • appreciate the need for ethical standards and professional codes of conduct
  • analyse, synthesise and summarise information critically
  • read and use appropriate literature with a full and critical understanding
  • obtain and integrate several lines of subject-specific evidence to formulate and test hypotheses
  • apply subject knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar problems
  • design, plan, conduct and report on investigations
  • undertake laboratory and/or field investigations of living systems in a responsible, safe and ethical manner
  • give a clear and accurate account of a subject, put arguments forward in a mature way and engage in debate and dialogue with both specialists and non-specialists.
    • Key course features


      • Final award: BTEC Higher National - HND in Applied Biology
      • JACS code: HNC-CC11, HND-B901
      • Institution code: W65
      • Programme accredited by: Pearson
      • Date of production: September 2012
      • Date of revision: September 2014
      • Further revision: September 2015 - units for HNC Applied Biology

      Level: Level 4/5

      Mode: Full-time

      Start Date: 25 September 2017

      Who is this course for?

      Students who are interested in a career in biological sciences.

      About the course

      You will learn by completing projects and assignments based on realistic situations, activities and demands. You will focus on a particular area and develop a range of specialist skills and knowledge.

      The course is made up of mandatory and optional specialist units.

      You will study:

      Mandatory units:

      • Cell biology
      • Biochemistry of macromolecules and metabolic pathways
      • Physiology of cellular systems in animals
      • Laboratory techniques for applied biology
      • Analysis of scientific data and information

      Specialist units:

      • Neurophysiology and homeostatic control of the human body
      • Molecular biology and genetics
      • The immune response system
      • Infectious diseases
      • Medical microbiology
      • Human health and nutrition
      • Food molecules, additives and their roles 
      • Ecological principles and their application
      • Chemistry for the applied biologist
      • Biodiversity, conservation and threats
      • Plant physiology and environmental adaptation
      • Work-based experience
      • Personal and professional development
      • Employability skills.

      Information correct at 23 June 2016.
      Additional opportunities

      There are enrichment activities on the course such as university visits to discuss subject-specific issues and talks from experts on the latest developments in science.

      How will I be assessed?

      The course is internally assessed by means of assignments which are graded, and you will also receive an overall grade for the qualification.

      Regulation of Standards

      • Assessment conforms to Edexcel regulations
      • Internal Verification of assignment briefs and assessment standards
      • External moderation of samples of work by external examiner
      • Public displays of work, inside the college and at external venues, to show standards of work.
      Where next?

      Progress to the final year of a degree course at some universities, such as BSc in Biomedical Science or Biology or find employment in biological sciences.

      Entry requirements

      Learner should have at least one of the following, meeting a minimum of 120 UCAS points:

      • BTEC Level 3 Diploma or Extended Diploma in Applied Science or a related discipline
      • Access to Science Level 3
      • Two A Levels in science subjects
      • Applicants are also expected to have a good level of literacy and numeracy; a relevant Level 2 qualification (eg GCSE English and Maths at grade C / grade 5 or above) is required.

      If you need advice before you apply, please call 020 8326 2020 or email info@west-thames.ac.uk.


      This fee is for one year of study and may be subject to change in subsequent years. The course fee is usually covered by your student loan and you will not need to pay this back until you have completed this course and when you are earning over £21,000 a year. Home students may receive a bursary of £600 to help towards expenses (usually in February, subject to satisfactory attendance and progress on the course).

      Please note that if you have already achieved a degree, you will be liable to pay a higher fee (£7,000 in 2014-15).

      The fee for international students for 2015-16 was £8,000 and the 2016-17 fee is to be confirmed.

      How to apply?
      Please apply via www.UCAS.com or click the "apply now" button below and fill out the online application form. An adviser will be in touch regarding interview dates.


  1. Monuira Elgasim

    BTEC Level 2 Applied Science

    Monuira Elgasim

    "This year I really enjoyed studying physics, learning about the universe and astronomy. It's something I've studied before but not at such an advanced level. I'm going on to study the Level 3 science course and then I hope to go to university to study pharmacology."

  2. Zainab Alamili

    BTEC Level 3 Applied Science

    Zainab Alamili

    “I really enjoy BTEC science. It’s really practical and friendly and the teachers are really good. The college isn’t too big – it’s like a family. I’ve been doing work experience at Specsavers as I really want to study Optometry at university and I’ve just been accepted by City University. I’m so happy!”


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