ATHE Level 4 Extended Diploma in Computing (Cyber Security Technologist) (2023)

IntroductionEntry CriteriaQualification Content

The ATHE Level 4 Extended Diploma in Computing (Cyber Security Technologist) (2023) 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.

Each of the pathways is fully mapped to the current UK IfATE standards for the following occupational roles:

Level 4 Data Analyst
Level 4 Software Developer
Level 4 Cyber Security Technologist

You can view the details of these roles by visiting the IfATE website: Home / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

In this way, learners taking a specific pathway can be assured that their learning and achievement is fully compatible with Computing industry expectations for these industry roles.

Equally, the breadth of coverage within the qualification’s 21 units ensures that learners pursuing broader, more academic/professional development interests can create programmes of learning that are diverse and tailor-made.

Unit content and skill areas are explored systematically. Learners are expected to demonstrate both what they know and understand of the unit content, and how they apply it to a practical problem or situation. Learners will have the opportunity to develop their practical computing skills across a number of related Computing skill areas, eg programming and scripting, database analysis and design, web development, app design, network design and cyber security architecture.

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

Learners must achieve the 11 mandatory units.

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
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.10Yes
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.10Yes
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.10Yes
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.10Yes
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.10Yes
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