Know your Course - Higher Nationals

This page is intended to be the one-stop shop for our HND students to learn about their courses. Parts of the page are quite detail-heavy, but your course coordinator will be able to help you with anything you need help with.

You can use the links below in the Table of Contents to get you where you need.

Please note: We have tried to keep things as condensed as possible, using bullet points as much as we can. There is a lot of information here, so if (or when!) you have questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with your course coordinator. For ease, their contact details are below. 

Your questions, input and feedback are important to us as we will use it to improve this page and provide more to our students.

Key Course Contacts

Film (FND)

Coordinator and Mentor
Robert Kelly

Lecturers - FND1

Audio Production
Robert Kelly


Creative Media Industry (FND102)
Sean Hanlon

Cinematography - Camera (FND177)
Editing for Film and TV - (FND126)
Film Practice (FND107)
Film Studies (FND108)
Ronan Power


Individual Project
Jacqueline Keane

Music (MND)

Coordinator and Mentor
Susan Clarke

Lecturers - MND1

The Music Industry (MND101)
Marketing and Promotion (MND102)
Music Production Fundamentals (MND116)
Sean Hanlon


Applied Music Theory (MND122)
Instrumental Techniques (MND124)
Performance (MND123)
Songwriting (MND125)
Susan Clarke
Sean Hanlon

Sound (SND)

Coordinator and Mentor
Robert Kelly


Lecturers - SND1

Applied Sound Principles (SND112)
Live Sound Techniques (SND120)
Recording Technology (SND113)
Sound Engineering Fundamentals (SND117)
Robert Kelly


Creative Software Technique (SND114)
The Music Industry (SND101)
Marketing and Promotion (SND102)
Sean Hanlon

Career Guidance


Student Supports

Table of Contents


The Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) is a globally recognised vocational college programme. It focuses on practical learning, allowing you to gain hands-on experience in your chosen field and build a portfolio to kickstart your career.

At DCFE, we offer HNDs that are respected worldwide as they are offered in colleges and universities in over 50 countries around the world. After completing your HND, you can seamlessly transition into various universities in Ireland and beyond, boosting your educational journey. Or, you can move directly into the world of work in your desired industry knowing that you have the practical edge that will make you stand out.

Ireland has a stellar international reputation in media and creative arts. For decades, Colleges of Further Education have been the launching pad for countless success stories, both nationally and internationally. Dunboyne College is proud and excited to offer this launchpad to our students, through the HND.

We've crafted our programmes to be engaging, fun, and highly relevant. Our dedicated staff is here to support your learning journey and build your confidence and skills.

We're thrilled you've chosen DCFE as part of your college journey. Get ready to embark on an exciting path of learning, growth, and achievement. 

Begin here, go anywhere.

Welcome from the Principal

Dear Student,

It gives us great pleasure to welcome you to Dunboyne College of Further Education  We work constantly to develop new courses that meet the needs of industry and that is why our new HND programmes are such an exciting development for us.  We work in consultation with prospective employers, supporting bodies and third-level institutes to make sure that this programme at Dunboyne College will provide you with the skills and opportunities to progress your career.

We welcome applicants of all ages, nationalities and abilities to our college as each of you adds your own individual contribution to our history. We hope that the friendly, supportive and welcoming atmosphere in the college will ensure that your time with us will be both enjoyable and fulfilling. We above all hope this programme meets your own particular needs.

With that in mind, our task as a staff is to ensure that your time at the College is marked by a high-quality learning experience, so that your independent learning skills are fully developed with all the support, advice and encouragement we can give you, thus making learning enjoyable as well as meaningful.

I encourage you to review this handbook, which sets out what we at Dunboyne College aim to provide, and what the College expects of you as a member of our college community.

If you have any problems concerning your course or our services please contact your mentor or department head and they will assist you in getting the appropriate support.  Meanwhile, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in your academic career here at Dunboyne College.

We are hopefully looking forward to providing the right educational opportunity for you, and we thank you for making us a part of your educational journey.

Denis Leonard


1 - Programme Specification

This section contains the essential details of your HND programme at DCFE.


Duration: Two years, with an optional exit award after year one.

Certification: Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma in Creative Media Production (Film), with optional Higher National and QQI certificates after year one.

Level: Level 6 Higher Certificate (HNC/D), with optional QQI Level 5 exit award after year one.

Course Codes:
Year One = FND1
Year Two = FND2

Mode of Study: Full-time

Language of Study: English


Duration: Two years, with an optional exit award after year one.

Certification: Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma in Music (Artist Development), with optional Higher National and QQI certificates after year one.

Level: Level 6 Higher Certificate (HNC/D), with optional QQI Level 5 exit award after year one.

Course Code:
Year One = MND1
Year Two = MND2

Mode of Study: Full-time

Language of Study: English


Duration: Two years, with an optional exit award after year one.

Certification: Pearson BTEC Higher National Diploma in Music (Sound Engineering), with optional Higher National and QQI certificates after year one.

Level: Level 6 Higher Certificate (HNC/D), with optional QQI Level 5 exit award after year one.

Course Code:
Year One = SND1
Year Two = SND2

Mode of Study: Full-time

Language of Study: English

Year One (HNC)

Number of modules (or units): 8

Credits per unit: 15

Credits required to pass Year One: 120

Contact time:
Per unit = 60 hours
All units = 480 hours

Independent study time:
Per unit = 90 hours
All units = 720 hours

Year Two (HND)

Number of modules (or units): 7

Credits per unit: 15 or 30

Credits required to pass Year Two: 120

Contact time:
15/30 credit units = 60/120 hours
Entire Year = 480 hours

Independent study time:
15/30 credit units = 90/180 hours
Entire Year = 720 hours

Please Note:

2 - Programme Overview

2a - Units

2b- Credits

2c - Progression

2d - Qualifications

3 - Assessment

We will deal with some of the important details later in this section, but please remember the following:

This may be different to what you have experienced before, especially if you are coming to our HND from one of our QQI Level 5 foundation courses. Your lecturers will support and mentor you throughout the assessment process, but please do not lose sight of the fact that every assignment brief is important.

3a - Assessment Methods

Each unit will have different methods of assessing you and your lecturers and course coordinators have worked hard to ensure that each assessment is relevant, important and useful. Given how different each unit is, it is best to speak to each of your lecturers about the assessment for their units.

In the meantime, here are some things which are common to all units

3b - Assessment Regulations

DCFE operates the Higher Nationals in accordance with all relevant BTEC quality assurance guides. These guides are underpinned by DCFE policies which can be accessed through our website by clicking here.

3c - Submission of Coursework

Within the first few weeks of the course, students will be provided with an assessment schedule for their units. This is a year plan of sorts, which outlines the submission dates for your various assignments. Students must ensure that they do not miss any of the deadlines.

3d - Attendance

DCFE expects students to attend all timetabled sessions. It is in the student's interest to attend these and in many cases, unexplained absences will negatively impact assessment and grades. Where absence has an extenuating circumstance, for example, if a student is ill, then alternative arrangements can be arranged. More details of this will be provided by your course coordinator.

Late admittance into a session is at the discretion of the lecturer and may be refused depending on the session.

Given the practical and teamworking nature of the HND courses, attendance is crucial. In some units, absence from a critical class or missing an assessment date may impact the grades of other students, such as in team-based projects.

DCFE understands that some absences can not be avoided, though we expect students to notify us in advance or as soon as possible after an absence and to take responsibility for catching up on any work missed.

Students who feel their studies are being impacted by absence,  should contact their course coordinator as soon as possible. The course team and college will offer advice and where possible and appropriate, provide additional assistance to help students overcome the impact of their absence.

3e - Extensions to Submission Deadlines

Details about extensions for assignment deadlines can be found in the policy section of the DCFE website. Your course coordinator will also cover this with you.

4 - Assignment Submission, Resubmission and Repeating Units

An assignment is where the final assessment of your work takes place. This determines if you've met the Learning Outcomes for a specific unit. Essentially, it's your chance to demonstrate what you've learned.

4a - Reassessment

If you do not achieve a passing grade for that unit, you'll have the opportunity to resubmit, however:

4b - Repeating Units

A student who, for the first assessment opportunity and resubmission opportunity, still failed to achieve a Pass for that unit specification can:

5 - Unit Grading

The unit grade is what you achieve at the end of each unit after you have submitted all your coursework. Grading on an HND is probably going to be new to you, especially if you are coming from Leaving Cert. or QQI Level 5 courses. Let's go straight into an example by looking at a radio-related unit shown below.

There are two learning outcomes (LOs) in this example.

The first Learning Outcome (LO1) says that once the unit is finished, students should be able to "discuss the principles of radio production...".

The second learning outcome (LO2) says that students should be able to "explore radio production techniques and technology". 

If we consider the above example:

Please note: In reality, units will have four learning outcomes but we are just using these two learning outcomes as an example of how grading works.

5b - Grading Expectations

Grading in the first year is different to the second year from the point of view of the level or quality of work that students need to produce. Here are some general guidelines.

Year One

Pass generally requires students to explain or identify theories or professional practice

Merit tends to ask students to evaluate these theories or practices

Distinction requires a critical evaluation of theory or practice

Year Two

Pass requires you to be analytical 

Merit requires you to be critical 

Distinction requires you to critically evaluate something, offer and then justify recommendations

6 - The Qualification Grade

15 Credit Units

Passing earns you 60 points.
Passing with Merit earns you 90 points.
Passing with Distinction earns you 120 points.

30 Credit Units

Passing earns you 120 points.
Passing with Merit earns you 180 points.
Passing with Distinction earns you 240 points.

For example, if you:

The top table gives you the points per credit. For a 15 credit module, a pass equals 4 multiplied by 15.

6b - QQI Certification (2023/24 academic year)

For the 2023/24 academic year, the HND courses will replace the QQI Level 5 Certificates in Music, Sound, and Film. For this academic year, HND students will have the opportunity to obtain these QQI Level 5 certificates at the conclusion of the first year of their course. This option is provided for those who initially applied to the college with the intent of pursuing the QQI Level 5 certificates before the introduction of HND courses.

In the period leading up to the mid-term break of Semester 1, students will be asked whether they wish to take this option. If they choose to do so, their Year 1 work in the HND programme will serve as the foundation for their QQI coursework. In certain cases, additional pieces of work may be required, and the course coordinators will collaborate closely with students in these situations. The QQI Level 5 certification will be granted on the basis of:

7 - Assessment Authenticity

As a student, it's crucial to understand the guidelines for ensuring the authenticity of your work. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

Authenticity of Your Work

You should only submit work that represents your independent effort. This means that the evidence you provide for assessments must be your own creation.

Declaration Statement

When submitting your work, you will be required to sign a declaration. In this declaration, you confirm the following:
    - The evidence you're submitting is entirely your own.
    - You acknowledge that making a false declaration is considered a form of academic misconduct.

Maintaining Authenticity

To ensure your work remains authentic, it's important to:

If, during an assessment, your lecturer suspects that some or all of the evidence in your work is not authentic, they will follow the college's policies for addressing academic misconduct. Remember, maintaining the authenticity of your work is not only an academic requirement but also an important aspect of personal and professional integrity. Always strive to produce work that reflects your own effort and understanding.

8 - Feedback

As a college, we prioritise the delivery of effective assessment feedback as an integral part of our commitment to continuous guided learning. Our approach to assessment feedback serves to foster learning and facilitate improvement for our students. It not only encourages them to reflect on their performance but also equips them with the skills to leverage feedback effectively.

We take pride in providing constructive and valuable feedback that helps students comprehend the strengths and weaknesses of their work. Our feedback includes positive reinforcement where applicable, alongside clear guidance on how to enhance their performance. We ensure that our feedback aligns with the Learning Outcomes and assessment criteria, helping students grasp how these factors influence the overall grading process.

Moreover, the timing of our feedback provision and the return of assessed work is a crucial aspect of our approach. We establish specific turnaround times for feedback, which are communicated transparently to both tutors and students. This timing is designed to afford students the opportunity to reflect on the feedback and incorporate it into their preparations for upcoming assessments. We also consider the workload of our tutors and their ability to deliver effective feedback, ensuring a balanced and constructive learning experience.

9 - Teaching and Learning

We actively engage in teaching methods that stimulate academic involvement, foster challenging yet constructive discussions, and encourage students to self-reflect in preparation for their professional careers. Furthermore, we promote autonomous and independent learning to help students develop the academic skills, experiences, and techniques necessary as they progress through different levels of study.

Our focus is on developing programmes geared towards preparing students for the workforce. We design curricula that incorporate employability skills, emphasise ethical and diverse perspectives, and introduce students to both contemporary and foundational research. All our teaching and learning approaches align with the expectations of employers and society, guided by external benchmarks such as professional and statutory bodies. This way, students who complete a Higher National Diploma will possess the attributes, skills, principles, and behaviours necessary to make valuable contributions to local, national, and international industry.

We highly value the contributions students make to their own educational experiences, as well as the experiences of their peers. Student engagement and input are integral to a student's life within our programs. We collect student feedback on various teaching and learning matters, which we use to inform and improve future practices in both the program of study and the Centre itself.

9a - Quality and Depth of Learning

We ensure a high-quality teaching and learning experience for our students. This includes providing them with qualified and experienced lecturers, an engaging curriculum, fostering motivation and inspiration among students, and offering a support system that addresses both their pastoral and academic needs.

In addition to delivering a quality learning experience, we also encourage our students to achieve a deep understanding of their subjects, moving beyond basic explanations and descriptions. We expect our students to demonstrate the ability to analyse data and information, make sense of it, and form evaluative judgments. As they advance in their studies, there's an increasing emphasis on applying critical thinking skills to synthesize knowledge, drawing from relevant theories, concepts, and models.

Our commitment to delivering a quality learning experience with both depth and breadth aligns with established educational frameworks. Specifically, our Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND) align with the Level 6 Higher Certificate on the Irish qualifications framework. This ensures that the HNC and HND programs maintain the same level of academic rigour and expectations as the early years of a university degree program.

We aim to provide our students with an experience that mirrors what they would encounter at a university program. This includes:

To further support our students, we offer access to Higher National Global Study Skills, an online toolkit available on the HN Global website, This resource aids in the delivery, assessment, and quality assurance of BTECs within our Centers. Additionally, there are numerous free-to-access websites that can assist students in developing their learning and academic study skills.

10 - Engaging with our Students

As a college, we place great importance on actively involving students in various aspects of our programmes. This engagement is a fundamental part of our approach to teaching and learning. We value and encourage student participation in shaping their educational experiences, which can encompass a range of activities.

We actively seek the input of our students in multiple ways. This includes soliciting their opinions on how teaching and learning are structured, their contributions to curriculum design, and their insights into assessment strategies designed to evaluate their knowledge and comprehension.

To capture the student voice and feedback, we employ various formal mechanisms and channels. This involves designating student representatives who serve as the collective voice for their respective student cohorts. Additionally, students participate in course team meetings and the Student Union. Periodic student forums are held throughout the year, with detailed minutes and action plans that inform our overall annual course monitoring process. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to provide unit-specific feedback through forms, contribute to end-of-year course evaluations, and engage in scheduled performance review meetings with their tutors.

However, our commitment to gathering feedback from students extends beyond formal mechanisms. We believe in maintaining ongoing discourse with students, where teachers adopt a 'reflection on action' approach to adjust their teaching methods, creating an environment that best supports various learning styles. Just as employers may have a role in influencing assessment design, students also have an active role in shaping assignments, making them exciting, dynamic, and engaging while ensuring they provide meaningful and informative assessments.

A key advantage of involving students in decisions about teaching, learning, and assessment is that it fosters their engagement in their own educational journey. This engagement empowers students and cultivates a sense of ownership not only over their personal learning experiences but also over matters related to teaching, learning, and assessment more broadly. Ideally, students see themselves as partners in their educational journey, not just participants in a process.

11 - Resources

A full list of student services and resources can be found on the myDCFE website. Resources specific to your courses can include recording studios, film studios, computer labs and collaborative spaces. Your lecturers will provide you with more details of these as they become important.

11a - HN Global

DCFE is excited to be a part of the HN Global programme and community. HN Global is a dedicated online learning platform, containing various free resources to support students who are on their learning journey. The global forum connects students and tutors with the opportunity to discuss common themes and share good practice. 

12 - Getting Around

13 - College Policies

Dunboyne College has a number of policies which essentially outline what Dunboyne College expects of it's students and what students can expect from Dunboyne College. For example, DCFE has an Attendance Policy which states the rules and regulations relating to attendance. DCFE also has a Teaching and Learning policy, Anti-Bullying policy, a Student Code of Conduct policy and Data Protection policy

In order to be officially registered as a student of Dunboyne College and to access your course materials online, you must sign up to these policies by logging into Moodle. You will shortly receive an email with your college details and a guide on how to login to Moodle for the first time.

Click here to see our policies on our college website. 

14 - College Email

Keep your email and password safe; do not share these details with anyone.

15 - Moodle

A big part of studying in college is using a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is a special website which contains a digital space for your course and all of it's modules. Our VLE is called Moodle and on it, you will find a page for each of your modules. Your teachers will use Moodle to upload class materials, and it is also the place where you will engage with activities and submit your assignments for grading.

Your teachers will be using Moodle a lot in order to get you up to speed on the various topics and concepts covered in your modules. Make sure you engage with the materials on Moodle and will be designed to make classes more productive.  You will soon be up to speed and used to using Moodle for your college work. Your Mentor will guide you through using Moodle during your weekly meetings with them.

15a - Logging Into Moodle For The First Time

Robert Kelly will email you before classes start with Moodle information, so for now, don't worry about it.

During your induction with your Mentor next week, you'll be able to log into Moodle and get a virtual tour of the platform delivered by your Mentor.

16 - General Points

17 - Complaints

If you have concerns about any aspect of your programme or overall student experience, please contact your course coordinator or any member of the teaching team first. If the complaint relates to these individuals, contact can be made with student support staff. Contact details can be found on myDCFE.

Appendix 1: Module Lists

Below you will find all of the units provided as a part of your HND programme at DCFE. All first-year units carry 15 credits. All second-year units carry 15 units unless otherwise stated below.


Audio Production

Cinematography - Camera

Creative Media Industry

Editing for Film and TV

Film Practice

Film Studies

Individual Project

Professional Practice


Advanced Editing for Film and TV

Advanced Film Production Studies

Collaborative Project


Film Criticism

Personal Professional Development

Scriptwriting for Film and Television


Applied Music Theory


Instrumental Techniques


Marketing and Promotion


Music Production Fundamentals




Professional Development




The Music Industry



Advanced Composition Techniques


Advanced Performance Skills


Creative Portfolio


Creative Research Project


Developing as an Artist


Live Arrangement Skills


Musical Direction in Practice



Applied Sound Principles

Creative Software Techniques

Live Sound Techniques

Marketing and Promotion

Professional Development

Recording Technology

Sound Engineering Fundamentals

The Music Industry


Advanced Music Production


Advanced Sound Design for Interactive Media


Advanced Sound Engineering


Creative Portfolio


Creative Research Project



Live Mixing


Mixing and Mastering


Appendix 2: Academic Calendar 2023/24

Below is the academic calendar for the year. Please be aware that dates are subject to change. Up-to-date information is always contained within the Moodle spaces for your course.