HNC Automation and Control Engineering (HTQ)

The Pearson BTEC Level 4 HNC Automation and Control Engineering online distance learning course provides you with a specialist work-related programme of learning that covers all the key knowledge, understanding, and practical skills required to work and progress in automation and control engineering, such as an automation and control technician or assistant project manager.

If you are interested in a career in automation and control engineering engineering, are looking to progress further in your engineering career, and/or want to progress onto an HND or full Honours degree, this is the ideal course for you.

Earn your BTEC Level 4 HNC from home with our flexible distance learning course. Fit learning around your work and personal commitments, and access everything you need at any time of day. You can learn at your own pace and simply submit your assignments when you are ready. You are in control of your course duration, therefore you can speed it up and slow it down to suit your needs.

Once completed, you will be awarded a Pearson BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Automation and Control Engineering.

Please note the HND progression route is the HND Electronic and Electrical Systems Engineering course

Basic Information

Awarding Body - Pearson

Course Duration a minimum of three months, and a maximum of three years

Average Course Duration – 10 hours studying per week = 9-12 months*
*Please note that this is a rough estimate, and the course duration will depend on many factors, such as your prior knowledge, level of commitment, and which units you choose

Assessment Type - 100% assignment based

Enrolment Dates - Apply any day. Enrolments take place on first working day of each month

Course Duration

You can select your HNC course length from 1-3 years to best suit your circumstances.

Which course length is best for me?

We advise all learners to consider how many hours they can commit to their course each week before selecting their course length.

Here are the recommended course lengths based on how many learning hours per week on average you can realistically dedicate to the course*:

8-10 hours of learning per week = 1 year course length
5-7 hours of learning per week = 2 year course length
2-4 hours of learning per week = 3 year course length

You do not need to specify your desired course length until you submit your enrolment form, after your application has been approved.

You could save up to £1,105 by opting for the 1 Year Programme


We are transitioning over to a new and improved framework on 1st September 2024, with the qualifications having been refreshed to better reflect the needs of employers and modern engineering challenges and solutions. As registrations have now closed for the old framework, which was created in 2017, everyone who enrols from now will be placed on a free mandatory introductory course over summer, covering IT Skills, Report Writing, Harvard Referencing and Maths. Then, your HNC units will be released and available from 1st September.

If you wish to enrol soon, we strongly recommend enrolling ASAP to give yourself the summer to ensure you build your knowledge and confidence up on the four crucial introductory units, areas which we have identified as being major pain points for many of our learners over the past 10 years, impacting the ability of some to achieve the grades they want.

The summer months will be given as additional time for you to go through the introductory course and settle into your online learning environment, as opposed to eating into your chosen course length

You will receive a welcome email which contains your login credentials to gain access to your Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Moodle, as well as information on how to use Moodle, where to begin, and general rules and guidance. You have the option to request an induction call where a member of our team will run through all of this with you.

Once you have completed the introductory course, you will then move onto the HNC units from 1st September. You will be required to complete your HNC course within your chosen timeframe.

Learning Resources

All resources can be accessed at any time online through our online learning portal, allowing you to go through your modules as and when you like. You will benefit from comprehensive workbooks and detailed pre-recorded videos that you can access and replay whenever.


To view our course fees please click on the 'Finance and Fees' tab. If you are on a mobile, click on 'Overview' and change the page view to 'Finance and Fees on the dropdown menu.

Professional Collaboration

This course is newly ‘quality marked’ as a Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE). In addition, The HNC is a nationally recognised work-related qualification – developed in collaboration with some of the top engineering employers across the UK, such as ALSTOM, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Siemens, Railtrack, and The Engineering Council - for learners who are taking their first steps into employment or those already in employment and seeking career development.

In developing this course, Pearson has also liaised with:

● The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
● Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
● Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).

By aligning to professional body competency standards, content and assessment supports learners to develop as professional practitioners for the future. This adds value for learners by offering them access to continuing professional development.

Tutor support during your HNC

You will benefit from extensive tutor support throughout your time with UniCourse. You will be given the contact details of your tutor(s), and you may email them whenever you want, or you may request a telephone/video call.


There are no exams, all assessments will be based on coursework assignments that you submit to us, in your own time, within your chosen course duration.

Enhanced Learning Credits

If you have served or currently serve in the British Armed Forces, you may be eligible to use Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs) to fund your studies. To read more about eligibility and how to kick-start the process, please click here.

Colleges/Learning Providers

Are you looking to purchase any of the high quality teaching resources our expert team has produced? Click here to find out more.

Module Details - How Will It Work?

To achieve the HNC in Automation and Control Engineering you need to complete eight units in total. This includes five mandatory core units and three mandatory specialist units. This offers learners a broad introduction to the subject area. As you conduct further research into the HNC, it is strongly recommended that you take a look below at the units you will need to study. By clicking on the unit title, you will be redirected to the official Pearson BTEC unit specification, and below many of the units you will see samples from directly taken from our course workbooks.

U4002 Engineering Maths

The mathematics that is delivered in this unit is directly applicable to the engineering and manufacturing industry, and it will help to increase learners’ knowledge of the broad underlying principles within this discipline.

The aim of this unit is to develop learners’ skills in the mathematical principles and theories that underpin the engineering curriculum. Students will be introduced to mathematical methods and statistical techniques in order to analyse and solve problems within an engineering and manufacturing context.

On successful completion of this unit, learners will be able to employ mathematical methods within a variety of contextualised examples, interpret data using statistical techniques, and use analytical and computational methods to evaluate and solve engineering and manufacturing sector problems.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

U4003 Engineering Science

Engineering is a discipline that uses scientific theory to design, develop, or maintain structures, machines, systems, and processes. Engineers are therefore required to have a broad knowledge of the science that is applicable to the industry around them.

This unit introduces learners to the fundamental laws and applications of the physical sciences within engineering and how to apply this knowledge to find solutions to a variety of engineering problems. Among the topics included in this unit are: international system of units, interpreting
data, static and dynamic fundamentals, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, material properties and failure, A.C./D.C. circuit theories, and electromagnetic principles and properties.

On successful completion of this unit, learners will be able to interpret and present qualitative and quantitative data using computer software, calculate unknown parameters within mechanical and electrical systems, explain a variety of material properties, and use electromagnetic theory in an applied context.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

U4061 Programming for Engineers

With the increasing programmability of devices, it is essential that engineers can define and develop software artefacts. Engineers are often involved in developing programs for a wide variety of projects, such as creating firmware, automating robots and machines, modelling conceptual designs, processing data, and developing machine-learning models. By acquiring programming competencies, engineers can meet these challenges, reap the benefits of customised designs, and develop solutions to solve future engineering problems, thus enhancing their career prospects.

This unit provides engineering learners with a comprehensive introduction to programming. Students will be able to investigate different software development platforms, programming paradigms, programming languages (e.g. Python, C or C++), and their engineering applications. They will gain the experience of going through a standard development process; from setting requirements through to design, implementation, testing and maintenance. The unit also covers program design, structure, and syntax through project activities. Students will be assessed on
creating programs that are efficient, functional, reliable, and maintainable.

On completion of this unit, learners will have acquired essential knowledge and skills in programming using a popular language that can be utilised in Level 5 units such as Machine Learning and Embedded Systems.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

U4062 Professional Engineering Practice

The work of the engineer is key to the development and progress of our society. The decisions they make in the course of their everyday work can be life-changing in positive ways or, if poorly made, can be life-threatening. Accordingly, the engineer must work to strict codes of professionalism in all aspects of their work.

This unit outlines the background to the legislation, professional codes of practice and operational competencies that underpin the development of the professional engineer. It also considers the roles of problem-solving, communication, team working and professional responsibility.

Elements of personal and professional development, reflective thinking, career planning and leadership are considered as well. The increasing necessity for a holistic approach to sustainability in design, manufacture, and reuse and recycling are emphasised.

On successful completion of this unit, the student will be well prepared for further study at levels 5 and 6, working towards membership of an appropriate professional institution at Incorporated Engineer level.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

U4063 Engineering Mechanics and Materials

Every aspect of engineering depends upon the use and manipulation of materials. Whether naturally occurring or man-made, it is the properties of these materials that are fundamental to their creation, processing and application.

This unit explores the fundamental structure of common engineering materials, their principal mechanical, chemical and electrical properties, and how these properties affect manufacture, application, service life and end-of-life management and recycling. Systems for categorising and ranking materials are also covered.

Finally, the service life performance of these materials is studied through calculations that measure their performance in static and dynamic applications, building on the work started in the associated level 4 unit, Engineering Science.

On successful completion of this unit, learners will be able to identify the underlying structural properties of engineering materials and how these properties relate to their application and performance. They will also be confident in completing calculations relating to the static performance of these materials when in service.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

U4006 Mechatronics

Auto-focus cameras, car cruise control and automated airport baggage handling systems are examples of mechatronic systems. Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical, electrical, and computer/controlled engineering working together in automated systems and ‘smart’ product design. Among the topics included in this unit are: consideration of component compatibility, constraints on size and cost, control devices used, British and/or European standards relevant to application, sensor types and interfacing, simulation and modelling software functions, system function and operation, advantages and disadvantages of software simulation, component data sheets, systems drawings, flowcharts, wiring and schematic diagrams.

On successful completion of this unit learners will be able to learn about the basic mechatronic system components and functions, designing a simple mechatronic system specification for a given application, appropriate simulation and modelling software to examine its operation and function, and solving faults on mechatronic systems using a range of techniques and methods.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

U4015 Automation, Robotics, and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)

The word automation was not used until the 1940s and it originated in the automotive manufacturing sector as a method designed to reduce labour costs and improve the quality, accuracy and precision of the finished products. We are all now very familiar with the sight of dancing robots, not only in the production of cars but in everything from washing machines to pharmaceuticals. As a result of this technology the products we purchase may have never been touched by human hands and we all benefit from a reduction in costs and improvement in quality.

The aim of this unit is for learners to investigate how Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and industrial robots can be programmed to successfully implement automated engineering solutions.

Among the topics included in this unit are: PLC system operational characteristics,
different types of programming languages, types of robots and cell safety features.

On successful completion of this unit learners will be able to learn about programming PLCs and robotic manipulators to implement a set of activities, different types and uses of PLCs and robots available, writing PLC programs using a language of their choice, and program industrial robots with straightforward commands and safety factors.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

U4064 Analogue and Digital Electronics

Analogue and digital electronic systems are widely used for a variety of applications. These systems provide the building blocks for modern living; for example, smart devices/homes, Industry 4.0 and autonomous systems. Digital electronics are used to implement circuits such as the microcontroller-based systems found in mobile phones, computers, televisions, microwaves and many other devices. Analogue electronic circuits are commonly used alongside such systems. A smart speaker uses digital systems to perform ‘smart’ functions and analogue circuits are used to drive the voice interface and speaker response systems. This unit explores some of the specialist applications of these systems.

The overall aim of the unit is to introduce learners to the fundamental building blocks of analogue and digital systems. Engineers from the craft technician to the Chartered Engineer should have an understanding and working knowledge of these technologies because they underpin all of our electronic devices, both domestic and industrial. The unit’s learning outcomes promote the development of skills and knowledge in the areas of digital and analogue electronics: digital electronics – developing an understanding of the basic logic components and how they are constructed, tested and used in circuit design; analogue electronics – developing an understanding of common transistors and transistor circuit design. Transistor and operational amplifier systems are another focus of the unit; these types of circuits are essential for signal
processing and reproduction.

On successful completion of the unit, learners will have developed skills and knowledge in analogue and digital electronics, which are the basis of all electronic systems and device, including the understanding and practice of the theory of logic circuits and how to construct and test such systems, and the understanding and measurement of analogue circuits.

If you only want to study this unit or up to four units for Continuous Professional Development purposes, you can do this with Pearson's accredited programme HN Flex.

Click here to find out more

Entry Requirements - How Do I Apply?

A pre-requisite to gaining entry onto the HNC is to have a relevant level 3 qualification in engineering OR relevant work experience in the engineering. Our admissions team may decide to send you entry quizzes to help determine suitability if they feel that you may struggle at level 4. For those who have not studied up to level 3 in Maths, it is strongly recommended that you consider adding on the Bridging Maths course, before commencing the first HNC unit - Engineering Maths. Please contact our admissions team, who will be able to tell you if you meet the entry requirements and provide advice on what you will need to enrol on this course.

We may contact you to request further information before we can advise whether your application is successful. This is to ensure that you meet the entry requirements for the course. Where appropriate, learners may be required to complete a bridging course(s) before gaining entry onto an HNC/D.

Can I be accepted with experience?

Yes. If you do not possess the relevant qualifications but have experience in the engineering sector, you can also be accepted onto the course. We consider each application on an individual basis.

Relevant experience includes:

1. Those who already work in the engineering sector and have obtained relevant skills.

2. Those who have obtained relevant skills through voluntary work.

Can I be accepted from overseas?

Unfortunately, no. Pearson BTEC courses are available to UK residents only.

English isn't my native language, do I need to complete an English exam?

As a student, you must be able to demonstrate your capability in English at the required standard, so that you can make best use of study materials, understand each unit in detail and communicate effectively with your tutor. If English is not your native language, you must complete an English proficiency exam before enrolling.

Accepted tests include:

1. Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) B2

2. IELTS 5.5 (including 5.5 for reading and writing)

3. PTE Academic 51 or equivalent (e.g. centre-devised test)

Level Of Education

All learners must have Maths and English at GCSE grade C/4, or a Level 2 equivalent

A-Levels in Maths and another relevant subject such as Science or Engineering, at a minimum grade of C, or an equivalent Level 3 qualification in a relevant subject.

If you do not possess any formal academic qualifications at level 3, appropriate experience of working in the engineering industry will be accepted in lieu. However, you should be able to demonstrate appropriate knowledge and competence at level 3 in mathematics and science.

For applicants without such qualifications, or where refresher courses would be beneficial, we offer level 3 bridging courses to fill those knowledge gaps. We can provide guidance on your individual needs during the application process.

For individual guidance on how your work experience will impact your course application, email us at

Payment Plans

As well as the plans you can see below, we offer you the opportunity to make a (minimum of) 30% downpayment, followed by monthly instalments to pay off the remaining balance, interest free. For 1 year programmes, the remaining balance can be paid off over a maximum of 10 monthly payments, and for 2 or 3 year programmes it extends to 15 months.

Please note: you are required to enrol before purchasing your course.

Step 1: Submit your application form. You will receive an email with our decision within one working day.

Step 2: Once your application is approved (subject to eligibility) you will receive confirmation of this via email, along with instruction to submit an enrolment form.

Step 3: Once you have completed both forms, you can then purchase your course.

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Progression - What Can I Do After My Course?

This course provides learners with a straight path to employment or progression onto an HND or a university degree course. Once you’ve achieved this Level 4 HNC in Automation and Control Engineering you can progress onto our level 5 Top up HND Electronic & Electrical Systems Engineering, and then go onto a top up degree programme onto the final year, or you can skip the HND and go onto the second year of a BSc (Hons) full university degree. Many campus-based universities will accept this qualification as an entry requirement to year two of their degree programmes.

This qualification is approved by the Engineering Council as contributing to the requirements for professional registration as an Engineering Technician. Completing this course can help you on your way to achieving your career goals. For those already in employment, it is a nationally recognised qualification, led and shaped by top employers within the industry.



Careers Hub

UniCourse now offer a comprehensive Careers Hub service for all our learners, which comes included in the package.

You can have one of our specialists take a look at your CV, cover letter, or personal statement, and provide you with extensive feedback on how to make improvements, to make the best impression possible.

Also, you will be offered the chance to talk through your options once you are finished or about to finish your course with one of our specialist careers advisors, who will recommend certain actions and point you in the direction of possible ways to keep you progressing in the direction you wish to go.

Opportunities After Unicourse

What can I do after my course?

This course builds up core skills whilst preparing you for further subject specialisation if learners wish to progress onto a level 5 HND or onto the second year of a full Honours degree course. It prepares and equips those taking their first steps into employment in the engineering sector, with the relevant knowledge needed to succeed. It can also help those already employed in the engineering sector to further their skills to progress in their careers, specialise in certain areas, and gain promotions.

More workplace opportunities

The skills you learn as part of the HNC Automation and Control Engineering can provide you with the opportunity to take positive forward steps into employment in the engineering sector or can help those already in employment to progress further in their careers and gain promotions.

1. Technician automation and control engineering

2. Assistant Project Manager

Further education opportunities

The Level 4 BTEC HNC Automation and Control Engineering is recognised by many Higher Education providers - such as the Open University - as meeting admission requirements for progression onto many relevant workplace-related courses, including:

1. A Level 5 HND in Electronic & Electrical Systems Engineering

2. BEng (Hons) Automation and Control Engineering

3. BSc (Hons) Automation and Control Engineering

4. MEng Automation and Control Engineering

5. MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering

6. MEng Industrial Control Engineering

7. MEng Intelligent Automation and Robotics

8. MEng Robotics and Automation

Will my chosen University accept this qualification?

The HNC in Automation and Control Engineering will allow you to apply for year 2 of a BSc (Hons) degree with the Open University. Many campus-based universities will also accept this qualification as an entry requirement to year two of their degree programmes.

Pearson's Degree Finder Tool

Pearson's Degree Finder tool has been created for learners studying a Pearson BTEC Higher National qualification who are looking for progression options to university.

You can use this tool before, during or after completing your Pearson course to help you plan your next steps

The Degree Finder also features Pearson's Recognition Map where you can browse the institutions who have formally recognised that they will consider applications from Higher National learners.

Visit Pearson's Degree Finder


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