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BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate (HNC/HND) in Public Services

The HNC in Public Services is ideal for those wanting to fit study around work. The programme involves hands-on learning related to the Armed Services, Emergency Services and more (e.g. UK Border Force). The best part is that the way the programme is structured means you can tailor what you study to meet your career goals. Although the HNC is a nationally-recognised qualification in itself, you can progress to a higher level HND once completed.  If you successfully achieve the HND, you can ‘top up’ your qualification to a full Honours degree. Alternatively, students can progress within relevant employment.    

Entry Requirements

Along with a keen interest or desire to work in the Public Services, you will also require one of the following to enrol on this course:

  • 120 UCAS points
  • Minimum 2 C’s at A Level
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma/Extended Diploma in Public Services
  • Access to Higher Education Certificate.

All applicants will require an informal interview with the programme course manager.

Course Content

Students will have the chance to put the theory they learn from lectures into practice. All students will be expected to find a work experience placement. This could be in any area of the Public Services that interests you, such as the Police, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, or the Combined Cadet Force etc.

HNC Units (Year 1)


To achieve the HNC, you need to accrue a total of 120 credits.  You need to gain 45 credits from the mandatory units, which cover:

  • Small Scale Research Projects in the Public Services
  • Organisations & Behaviour
  • Fair Treatment in Public Services.

Plus 75 credits from optional units, chosen based on your specialism:

  • Sociological Aspects of the Public Services in Contemporary Society
  • Psychology of Human and Criminal Behaviour
  • Justice and Punishment
  • Emergency Planning & the Public Services
  • Work-Based Experience.

Following successful completion of the Level 4 HNC (Year 1), you can choose to progress onto the Level 5 HND (Year 2).


HND Units (Year 2)


To receive the HND, you must achieve the HNC plus another 120 credits from further units at Level 5.  You must complete four mandatory units:

  • Managing Finance in the Public Sector
  • Government, Decision Making and the Public Services
  • Research Project
  • Personal & Professional Development.

Plus credits from the following units:

  • The Global Environment
  • Personal Outdoor Skills
  • Criminological Theory Relating to Crimes of Violence.
How will I be taught?

The dynamic Public Services course at South Downs College will involve workshops, seminars, lectures, tutorials and online resources, all taught over a 32-week period. Practical activities are also a feature of the HNC/HND. For example, visits to a variety of Public Service facilities, guest speakers and role-plays. And finally, organising to complete 30-40 hours of work experience will give students a real insight into the industry they are interested in.

How will I be assessed?

Students are continuously assessed through a range of assignments, group projects, workshops, formative tasks, their work experience placement and informal written examinations. Full support is given throughout the course.

Will I need any extra equipment?

Students will need access to the internet and resources in our Library. South Downs College has excellent IT facilities.

What qualifications will I get?

On successful completion, students will achieve:

HNC Public Services (1 Year)

HND Public Services (2 Years)

What will it allow me to do in the future?

Successful completion of the HNC gives you the opportunity to study the HND. After the HND, students can ‘top up’ their qualification to a full Honours degree at University. Alternatively, the College has established links with Hampshire Fire and Rescue, the Army Reserves, and a number of civilian companies where previous students have gained employment.

Course Information

Confused about student loans and anxious about getting into debt? Read the Government Student Loans guidance for clear explanations on how the student loan can benefit you.

HNC/HND/Foundation Degree

If you would like to apply for a Higher Education course, you will be required to pay the advertised fees in full. To help pay for these fees you may be entitled to a government approved Student Loan. You would need to apply to Student Finance England directly to receive this.

Whether you qualify for student finance depends on:

  • Your course of study (if you’ve studied a higher education course before)
  • Your age
  • Your nationality or residency status.

Generally, you’ll only get student finance if you’re doing your first higher education qualification. This is true even if your previous course was self-funded. To receive Tuition Fee Loans or grants, you will have to be under the age of 60 years at the start of the course.

The course must be one of the following to be eligible for the loan:

  • a Foundation Degree (FdA)
  • a Certificate of Higher Education (Cert Ed)
  • a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • a Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
  • Initial Teacher Training

Most full-time and part-time students can apply online to Student Finance England as follows:

  1. Set up a student finance account online.
  2. Log in and complete the online application.
  3. Include details of your household income and ask your parents (or partner) to support your application, if needed.
  4. Send in proof of identity, if required.
  5. Sign and return the loan declaration, which you should receive within six weeks.

For more information on courses or the Student Loan please contact our Admissions Team on 023 9279 4662 or 023 9279 7910.

Further Information

This information is accurate at the time of publishing. If you would like further information or guidance, please contact the College on 023 9279 7979.

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