Higher National Certificate

Accredited by University College Birmingham

This course is subject to validation and approval



Course Level



1 years FT (2 years PT)


September, February


View Fees

Department of Sustainable Construction
Discover more at our next open day

Saturday 17 August 2024

Join an open day

Research shows demand for civil engineers is set to grow 10% by 2030 (New Civil Engineer May 2023)

Civil engineers command the highest average salary (£44,992) in engineering (Engineering UK May 2023)

Our full-time or part-time Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Civil Engineering will build up your knowledge and practical skills in civil engineering to become a vital professional in this rapidly-growing sector. Throughout the course, students delve into construction design, including project phases, construction drawing, detailing, computer-aided design (CAD), Building Information Modelling (BIM), schedules, specifications, bills of quantities and information collaboration. 

The course will equip you with the skills to not only comprehend the theory, but apply practical solutions to real-world scenarios. By emphasising hands-on experience and theoretical understanding, students develop the ability to analyse diverse scenarios, make informed decisions and produce drawings and specifications for creative and innovative home design proposals.

The curriculum places significant focus on the scientific and material aspects of construction through topics including mechanical operation, human comfort, testing standards, sustainability and health and safety. You will examine the broader construction environment, emphasising its impact on society and the environment, and learn the technical skills you need, but also gain an understanding of the ethical and environmental implications of your work within the construction industry.

Why should I choose this course?

  • EXPERT TUITION – Learn from our highly-qualified staff with extensive practical knowledge of construction - supported by expert guest lecturers 
  • MODERN METHODS – There is a firm focus on sustainability and health and safety to meet the demands of the future  
  • PRACTICAL APPLICATION – Get hands-on experience studying in our cutting-edge construction facilities  
  • NO EXAMS - If you are not keen on exams, this course is for you. Unlike many courses in this field, you will have no written exams during or at the end of the course and will be assessed through coursework only 
  • AWARD-WINNING UNIVERSITY – Study at the highest-ranking university in the region according to student choice (Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

Our facilities

Students on our construction and engineering courses learn in real-world training environments. Our Centre for Sustainable Construction offers state-of-the-art facilities specifically designed to develop skills that support employers and their supply chains, along with specialist facilities for design and IT skills at Camden House. Facilities include: 

Design studios with industry standard CAD software (AutoCAD and Revit) 
• 3D printers and plotters 
• Renewable energy simulators 
• Hydraulics test equipment 
• Production line technology 
• Total station surveying tools

• Control engineering rigs
• Cyber physical system 
• Mechatronics automation 
• PLCs 
• Fluid dynamics software 
• Enhanced IT facilities

Centre for Sustainable Construction

Formerly a historic print works, this retrofitted art deco building is home to our Centre for Sustainable Construction - opened in 2024.

Camden House engineering facilities

Camden House is our bespoke STEM education and training facility offering Industry 4.0 standard engineering labs and IT resources.

Entry requirements 

Entry requirements

A-levels: An A-level grade profile of EE.

T-levels: A T-level graded Pass. T-Level in the following subjects must include Maths – Design and Development for Engineering and Manufacturing, Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction.  

BTEC: A BTEC grade profile of PP. This can be achieved from either an Extended Diploma or a combination of smaller BTEC qualifications.

Apprenticeship: Achieve an advanced apprenticeship (Level 3).

Access to Higher Education Diploma: 32 UCAS Tariff points.

Tariff: Other Level 3 qualifications are accepted for entry. A minimum of 32 UCAS Tariff points will be required.

Additional Requirements - GCSEs:

      GCSE/IGCSE maths grade 9-4/A*-C or equivalent

      GCSE/IGCSE English Language grade 9-4/A*-C or equivalent

Work-based: Equal consideration is given to applicants who are currently in relevant construction work and wish to apply to University College Birmingham. To apply, they must have a minimum of 3 years’ relevant work experience, demonstrating technical, management or supervisory duties. Any application must also include a reference from their line manager which supports entry to higher education.   

Course breakdown

  • Year 1

Core Modules

Construction Design Project 

Topics included in this unit are project phases, construction drawing, detailing, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Building Information Modelling (BIM), schedules, specifications, bills of quantities and information collaboration. On successful completion of the unit, you will be able to analyse scenarios, make decisions and produce drawings and specifications to achieve appropriate, creative and innovative home design proposals.  

Science and Materials 

This unit aims to you to understand in more depth material choices in construction. Topics such as mechanical operation, human comfort, testing standards, sustainability, health and safety are covered. On completion of this unit, you will be able to make informed decision about material selection based on understanding materials behaviour for different criteria.

The Construction Environment 

In this unit, you will explore the make-up and the impact of the construction industry on the environment and society. By exploring the roles and relationships of individuals and organisations in the construction sector, you will gain an overview of the organisational and the personal ways in which the construction sector works to continue to improve the built environment and limit its impact on the environment, while maintaining economic sustainability and growth.

Mathematics for Construction 

The aim of this unit is to develop your knowledge and understanding of the mathematical principles and theories that underpin many aspects of construction technology, structures and materials. You will be introduced to mathematical methods and statistical techniques so that you can analyse and solve problems in a construction engineering context.  Topics included in this unit are trigonometry and algebraic mathematical techniques, matrices, statistical techniques, differential and integral calculus, binomial and normal distribution, dimensional analysis, arithmetic progressions and vector analysis.  

Civil Engineering Technology

You will explore the technologies and processed of civil engineering in this unit. You will explore designs for sub and super structures considering common hazards and technical problems. This will include earthwork activities, temporary and permanent dewatering procedures and techniques to create substructures. You will on successful completion of this unit be able to describe, analyse and evaluate modern civil engineering procedures for both sub and superstructures.

Principles of Structural Design

Buildings, bridges, roads and many other man-made structures are critical to society. In this unit you will explore the fundamental principles of structure design, codes of practice and standards required to construct these structures so they are safe and stable. You will cover topics including methods and techniques to determine bending moments and shear forces in steel and concrete structures. You will also consider deflections and load carrying capacities of steel and reinforced concrete columns. On successful completion of this unit you will be able to determine and analyse forces in fixed structures and understand the basic concepts of structural design.

Digital Applications for Building Information Modelling

Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the use of data in the planning, construction and operation of built assets has become commonplace for both large and small projects. The ability to manage projects throughout their lifecycle, using a common data set, has the potential to impact on the built environment in numerous ways such as supporting efficiency, reducing costs and driving sustainability.   While BIM is, effectively, a process of information management through a project lifecycle, it is most often based on the use of digital applications to generate project data. In this, the model is central in the process of designing and producing information that will facilitate construction and, later, the operation of the built asset. In this unit, you will explore the key processes in using digital applications to produce data and construction information that will enable the BIM process. 

The modules listed above for this course are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up to date and informed by industry as well as the latest teaching methods. On occasion, we may need to make unexpected changes to modules – if this occurs, we will contact all offer holders as soon as possible.

Key information

Teaching and assessment


A wide variety of teaching methods will be used to ensure you gain the appropriate skills and knowledge, including lectures, practical sessions, workshops, tutorials and group study sessions. Face-to-face classes will be combined with practical research activities in our state-of-the-art construction facilities, while you will also conduct independent and online learning. 

Assessment occurs through a combination of assignments and projects with a focus on the holistic development of practical, interpersonal and higher-level skills. Many modules will require a demonstration of skills, while others will require you to carry out your own research and analysis, working independently or as part of a team. 

Our assessments will focus on developing the skills required by a professional civil engineer – designing and demonstrating a building system, delivering presentations and technical report writing aimed at technical and non-technical audiences to broaden your range of skills. 

You will also need to commit around 20 hours per week for individual study time. 

Assessment for this course will be 100% coursework. 

Our teaching and assessment is underpinned by our Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategy 2021-2024.

Tuition fees

UK students

If you are a UK student or an EU student with settled/pre-settled status enrolling on a full-time HND in 2023/24, your fee for this academic year will be approximately £9,250 per each full year. UK students do not pay tuition fees for any placement periods.

An HNC is a part-time programme, and the fees would therefore be approximately £4,625 per full year of the programme.

Unibuddy Community - meet other students on your course

Starting university is an exciting time, but we understand that it can sometimes feel a little daunting. To support you, you will be invited to join our Unibuddy Community, where you can meet other students who have applied for the same course at University College Birmingham, before you start studying here.

As soon as you have been made an offer, you will be sent an invitation email to complete your registration and join the Unibuddy Community. For more information, check out our Unibuddy Community page.

"Civil engineering is one of the oldest engineering professions and completion of this course provides the academic base to allow you to apply for Eng Tech accreditation with the Institution of Civil Engineers. Demand for civil engineering is growing as we adapt our existing and new infrastructure to meet the needs of the changing climate."

Deborah Bunce MICE Head of Sustainable Construction

Career opportunities

The example roles and salaries below are intended as a guide only.

Site manager

Average Salary: £45,000

Project manager - civil engineering

Average Salary: £50,000

Site engineers – civil engineering

Average Salary: £30,000

Civil engineering technician

Average Salary: £35,000

Want to continue your studies? Completing this HNC will give you the opportunity to move onto the second year of the Construction Management BSc (Hons) course.


We are here to support your career goals every step of the way. 


Find out more

Rachael’s Story

Senior engineering lecturer Rachael has witnessed first-hand the rapid changes in industry and is now sharing her vast experience with our students.

Read Story

Undergraduate students

Take the next step...


Back to top