ATHE Level 4 Extended Diploma in Computing (2023)

IntroductionEntry CriteriaQualification Content

The ATHE Level 4 Extended Diploma in Computing is a 120-credit Ofqual regulated qualification.

This qualifications have been developed to conform to the requirements of the Ofqual Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), to meet the requirements of higher education and employers and to meet the needs of learners.

Learners looking to achieve a Level 4 qualification should be advised of all the opportunities available at this level (eg Higher Apprenticeships, Higher Technical Qualifications, Undergraduate Degree programmes) and the possible funding (ie loan opportunities) available for these.

The aim of these qualifications is to develop knowledge, skill and understanding in a number of current and key areas of Computing.

Building on core learning developed at Level 3, the Diploma qualification provides essential Level 4 learning in the main Computing subject areas: systems analysis, programming, databases, networks and security, and legislation & regulation.

For learners seeking to develop their occupational skills in Computing, this provides the initial step for learners to then progress to specific pathway developments in either data analysis, software development and cyber security or to construct their own qualification outcome based upon academic/professional requirements.

This is a core qualification available to existing and interested centres of ATHE.

Graded with Pass, Merit and Distinction
Advanced learner loans available in the UK – to check if funding is available see the latest Qualification Catalogue here.
For the progression routes visit our progression routes page.

Delivery Mode
This qualification can be delivered either in the classroom, via distance learning or blended.

Qualification Specification
To view the specification, please click here.

Typical Age

This qualification is designed for learners who are typically aged 18 and above.


For learners who have recently been in education or training the entry profile is likely to include one of the following:

  • a GCE Advanced level profile with achievement in 2 or more subjects supported by 5 or more GCSEs at grades 4/C and above
  • other related level 3 subjects such as ATHE level 3 Diplomas
  • an Access to Higher Education Certificate delivered by an approved further education institute and validated by an Access Validating Agency
  • other equivalent international qualifications


For those whom English is not their first language we recommend the following standards of proficiency in English language skills or an approved equivalent for this qualification:

  • IELTs 5.5
  • Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) B2
  • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) 162 or above
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic 42-49

For learners not following a specific pathway, they must achieve the 5 mandatory units, any 5 optional units and Unit 21 Synoptic Computing Project. Where learners wish to follow a specific pathway, then the unit requirements for each of these is detailed below.

Unit NameUnit AimsCreditsMandatory
IT Systems DevelopmentThis unit draws together concepts from Systems Analysis and Project Management to help learners develop the skills and techniques needed to confidently respond to a client brief, to identify a problem or opportunity, analyse an existing system, identify possible solutions to the problem before choosing the most appropriate solution and producing a suitable design. Learners will present their final solution design to their client and respond to feedback.15Yes
Programming and ScriptingThis unit focuses on the principles of programming and scripting using Python. Python is a general-purpose language that is used for a wide range of contexts. For example, it can be used to create applications such as utilities, web apps and bespoke applications. It can also be used for scripting. For example, for one-off, quick scripts to solve a problem. It could be used to automate common tasks or to create data pipelines (e.g. ETL). It is commonly used for AI and machine learning, for data analytics, and for the creation of simple APIs and for DevOps automation.10Yes
Data and Database SystemsThis unit introduces learners to data and database systems by exploring the concept of data, data modelling and creating systems to hold and manage data. It takes a real-world view of database and database design, without focusing on data manipulation, which will be introduced in a later unit.15Yes
Computer Systems Networks and SecurityThis unit has three primary focuses. Firstly, it explores the technologies that enable computing such as memory, programs and logic. It then examines both hardware and software, connectivity and networking principles before examining risks to computer systems and data. Learners will explore a range of risks, attack techniques, security tools and a range of incidents and vulnerabilities. This is appropriate underpinning knowledge for any IT practitioner/professional who should have a basic understanding of computer security.10Yes
Legislation, Regulation, Ethics and Codes of PracticeIT practitioners in the modern world should understand how legislation and regulation applies in the IT sector. They should also understand why organisations create policies and procedures to help them to operate on a day-to-day basis. They should have an appreciation of a range of ethical issues and should be aware of the role of professional bodies in setting standards to maintain the industry in the industry. Learners should also be familiar with the concept of professional certification. 10Yes
Organisational Data ArchitectureThis unit teaches the learners to appreciate the organisational context of data and its importance in modern organisations. It does so by making learners aware of how data is managed, how it is structured, and how data and its analysis impacts the operation of an organisation.10Opt
Methods and Tools for AnalysisThis unit helps learners develop an understanding of the methods used in data analysis and the common tools used to apply those methods. It also helps the learner appreciate the role of data users and requirements analysis.10Opt
Data Preparation and Quality RisksThis unit helps learners develop an understanding of basic data extraction, manipulation, combination and common data quality issues. It equips the learners with practical skills needed to perform basic data analysis tasks with SQL and in a spreadsheet.10Opt
Statistics for Analysing DatasetsThis unit helps learners develop an understanding of the statistical principles needed for basic analysis of datasets. It equips the learners with practical skills needed to perform basic data analysis tasks using spreadsheet software.10Opt
Analytical Impact through Data VisualisationsThis unit helps learners develop the skills needed to confidently communicate the results of data analysis. It equips the learners with practical skills in using appropriate graphical representations and visualisations, and with skills in designing and constructing a simple data dashboard.10Opt
Advanced ProgrammingThis unit helps learners build on introductory programming skills and develop professional practice in the discipline.10Opt
Web Design and ProgrammingThis unit helps learners develop the skills needed to confidently design and build a simple interactive website which combines the use of both client-side and server-side components to provide a limited set of functionality for a given client’s needs.10Opt
Mobile Applications DevelopmentThis unit helps learners develop the skills needed to confidently design and build simple interactive apps which can be used on common mobile devices, e.g. smartphones, tablets etc.10Opt
The Principles of Full-Stack DevelopmentThis unit helps learners develop the skills needed to confidently use full-stack development technologies and tooling to build secure web-based applications that meet a client brief, including the creation of traditional CRUD-implemented APIs.10Opt
Software Testing Frameworks and MethodologiesThis unit helps learners develop the skills needed to test a software application for functional and non-functional outcomes using tools and timings appropriate for a project’s selected software development life cycle.10Opt
Principles of NetworksThis unit has three primary focuses. Firstly, it explores the concepts and technologies that enable networks to communicate and meet the needs of the user. Secondly, it explores the threat to data and methods of protection. Finally, it explores methods of network design, flexibility and creating resilience based on open standards.10Opt
Concepts and Features of Operating SystemsThis unit helps learners understand the concepts, main functions and features of different Operating Systems (OS). It identifies their security functions and associated security features.10Opt
Cyber Security ConceptsThis unit helps learners understand cyber security concepts. They will understand the cyber security risks to systems, data, and assets. They will develop skills to act when detecting a cyber security event and carry out appropriate activities to contain and recover due to a cyber security incident. The learner will understand the methods used to implement appropriate security of critical services.10Opt
Security ArchitecturesThis unit helps learners understand common security architectures and methodologies. It makes them aware of reputable security architectures that incorporate hardware and software components, and sources of architecture patterns and guidance. It explains the role of hardware and software security controls in the implementation of cyber security frameworks.10Opt
CryptographyThis unit will provide an understanding of the evolution of cryptography, how modern cryptography is applied within computer systems, and how this impacts on contemporary society. The learner will understand the concepts and features of cryptography and be able to apply encryption methods for a given scenario.10Opt
Synoptic Computing ProjectThis unit is designed to enable learners from any pathway to resolve a business problem or show how a business opportunity could be pursued using appropriate tools and technologies. The project should be a suitable match to their study pathway and should make use of the knowledge and skills gained when studying the Diploma and Extended Diploma programmes.10Yes