ATHE Level 4 Extended Diploma in Computing (Software Development) (2023)

IntroductionEntry CriteriaQualification Content

The ATHE Level 4 Extended Diploma in Computing (Data Analysis) (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
Advanced ProgrammingThis unit helps learners build on introductory programming skills and develop professional practice in the discipline.10Yes
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.10Yes
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.10Yes
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.10Yes
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.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