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BTEC Applied Science

SUBJECT overview

Students follow the National Extended Diploma in Applied Science 1080 GLH (1345 TQT), the equivalent to three A levels and is designed as a 2-year course. 

There are 13 units, 7 of which are mandatory and 4 which are external.

  • Mandatory units covered are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 
  • Mandatory content (62%)
  • External assessment (42%)
  • Optional units are: 8, 9, 10, 14, 21, 23

Unit overview - autumn term 1

BTEC Applied Science Unit 1


  1. Demonstrate knowledge of scientific facts, terms, definitions and scientific formulae
  2. Demonstrate understanding of scientific concepts, procedures, processes and techniques and their application
  3. Analyse, interpret and evaluate scientific information to make judgements and reach
  4. Make connections, use and integrate different scientific concepts, procedures, processes or techniques


  1. Structure and bonding in applications in science
  2. Production and uses of substances in relation to properties
  3. Cell structure and function
  4. Cell specialisation
  5. Tissue structure and function
  6. Working with waves
  7. Waves in communication
  8. Use of electromagnetic waves in communication


Scientists and technicians working in the chemical industry need to have an understanding of atoms and electronic structure. This allows them to predict how chemical substances will react in the production of a wide range of products – anything from fertilisers in the farming industry to fragrances in the perfume industry. Metals play an important role in the construction industry, in providing the structure to buildings, as well as in electrical wiring and the production of decorative features. So understanding the chemical and physical properties of metals is essential when selecting appropriate building materials.

Medical professionals need to understand the structure and workings of cells. They build on this knowledge to understand how the body stays healthy as well as the symptoms and causes of some diseases. This allows them to diagnose and treat illnesses. The study of bacterial prokaryotic cells gives an understanding of how some other diseases are caused and can be treated.

Scientists and technicians in the food industry also need to understand the structure and function of plant cells to enable them to develop food crops that produce greater yields.

Knowledge of waves is essential in a wide range of industries and organisations. In the communication industry, scientists and technicians apply their knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum when designing mobile phone and satellite communication, and fibre optics are used to transmit telephone and television signals. Fibre optics are also used in diagnostic tools in medicine.

Unit overview - autumn term 2

BTEC Applied Science Unit 2


  1. Undertaking titrations and colorimetry to determine the concentration of solutions
  2. Undertaking calorimetry to study cooling curves
  3. Undertaking chromatographic techniques to identify components in mixtures
  4. Reviewing personal development of scientific skills for laboratory work.


  1. Laboratory equipment and its calibration
  2. Preparation and standardisation of solutions using titration
  3. Colorimetry
  4. Thermometers
  5. Cooling curves
  6. Chromatographic techniques
  7. Application of chromatography
  8. Interpretation of a chromatogram
  9. Personal responsibility
  10. Interpersonal skills
  11. Professional practice


This unit introduces you to standard laboratory equipment and techniques, including titration, colorimetry, calorimetry, chromatography, calibration procedures and laboratory safety. Through the practical tasks in the unit, you will develop proficiency in the quantitative analytical techniques of titration and colorimetry, including learning to calculate the concentration of solutions. You will use measurement of temperature to study cooling curves and be introduced to paper and thin-layer chromatography (TLC). You will also have the opportunity to calibrate equipment and will be encouraged to be aware of the safety aspects of given laboratory procedures and techniques.

While you develop your practical competence, the discussion and analysis of group results will allow you to understand your progress in relation to that of others and also to gain an understanding of the reliability, repeatability and reproducibility of various procedures and techniques. You will have the opportunity to use problem-solving skills when you undertake calorimetry work. There is scope throughout the unit to reflect on the skills you have gained and how you may develop further.

The fundamental knowledge, practical skills, transferable skills – for example, organisation, self-assessment and problem-solving, and the ability to interpret data – all developed in this unit will give you confidence when you undertake the more complex practical techniques involved in higher education science courses such as biochemistry, chemistry, forensic science and environmental science.

The experience you gain will be invaluable when you begin your career as a trainee laboratory technician in industries such as contract analysis, oil, biopharmaceuticals, water treatment, and polymers. Employers in these industries will appreciate your ability to follow written scientific procedures and your desire to ensure accuracy by using techniques correctly and by checking that equipment – for example, pipettes, balances, pH meters and thermometers – is calibrated correctly and that appropriate standard calibration documentation has been completed.

Unit overview - spring term 1

BTEC Applied Science Unit 3


  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts, procedures, processes and techniques and their application in a practical investigative context
  2. Interpret and analyse qualitative and quantitative scientific information to make reasoned judgements and draw conclusions based on evidence in a practical investigative context
  3. Evaluate practical investigative procedures used and their effect on the qualitative and quantitative scientific information obtained to make reasoned judgements
  4. Be able to make connections between different scientific concepts, procedures, processes and techniques to make a hypothesis and write a plan for a practical investigation


  1. Developing a hypothesis for an investigation
  2. Selection of appropriate equipment, techniques and standard procedures
  3. Health and safety associated with the investigation
  4. Variables in the investigation
  5. Method for data collection and analysis
  6. Collection of quantitative/qualitative data
  7. Processing data
  8. Interpretation/analysis of data
  9. Evaluation
  10. Protein structure
  11. Enzymes as biological catalysts in chemical reactions
  12. Factors that can affect enzyme activity
  13. Factors affecting the rate of diffusion
  14. Arrangement and movement of molecules
  15. Factors that can affect plant growth and/or distribution
  16. Sampling techniques
  17. Sampling sizes
  18. Fuels
  19. Hazards associated with fuels
  20. Units of energy
  21. Use of electrical symbols to design circuits
  22. Equations
  23. Energy usage


Advancement in science and technology has produced great benefits for society. This advancement depends on research and investigative approaches in science and technology. In research, development, analytical and industrial laboratories, laboratory technicians and scientists are employed to safely carry out practical investigations, or follow prescribed laboratory procedures. They repeat measurements to obtain consistent, reliable results. They use investigative skills, including planning, recording and interpreting data, analysing and evaluating findings in order to test a hypothesis to inform further research and development.

Science investigative skills will help you in many scientific or enquiry-based learning courses in higher education, as well as prepare you for employment in a science-related industry.

Unit overview - spring term 2

BTEC Applied Science Unit 4


  1. Understand the importance of health and safety in scientific organisations
  2. Explore manufacturing techniques and testing methods for an organic liquid
  3. Explore manufacturing techniques and testing methods for an organic solid
  4. Understand how scientific information may be stored and communicated in a workplace laboratory.


  1. Application of health and safety legislation in scientific organisations
  2. Hazards in a scientific organisation
  3. Manufacturing techniques
  4. Testing methods and techniques
  5. Manufacturing techniques
  6. Industrial manufacturing techniques
  7. Estimation of purity
  8. Systems for managing laboratory information
  9. Communicating information in a scientific organisation
  10. Use of informatics for storage and retrieval of scientific information


In this unit, you will investigate a scientific organisation to gain an understanding of how it operates. You will investigate health and safety practices in the organisation’s laboratories and consider related primary and secondary legislation. You will also have the opportunity to compare the approach taken to hazards and risk management in different part of the organisation, for example production, the warehouse, the office. It is important to realise that, whether you progress to employment in the science industry or to higher education in science, you will have to be aware of the relevant hazards and to follow the practices that have been developed for your safety.

You will gain a valuable insight into the operation of the pharmaceutical and bulk chemistry industries by making and testing two organic compounds – a liquid and a solid – exploring how industrial production differs from the process that you carry out in the laboratory. You will also investigate the different methods for testing the purity of the products.

Management of data/information is becoming increasingly sophisticated. You will investigate how data/information within the organisation is stored, used and communicated. You will learn about the procedures used for recording laboratory information that ensure it is sufficiently detailed, accessible and traceable. Large amounts of data are available for others to use for research purposes, for example by organisations interested in DNA sequencing or in healthcare. You will explore how these data may be used and consider the benefits and issues associated with accessing and with making large quantities of data available for research.

Not only will this unit give you some understanding of the workplace environment you may enter after finishing this course or after completing a scientific higher education programme, it will also allow you to develop an appreciation of how laboratory preparation and testing of compounds may be scaled up by industry, and of how data is managed within the organisation.

Unit overview - Summer term 

BTEC Applied Science Unit 6


  1. Undertake a literature search and review to produce an investigative project proposal
  2. Produce a plan for an investigative project based on the proposal
  3. Safely undertake the project, collecting, analysing and presenting the results
  4. Review the investigative project using correct scientific principles


  1. Literature review
  2. Investigative project proposal
  3. Schedule
  4. Plan
  5. Health and safety and ethical considerations
  6. Experimental procedures and techniques
  7. Collect, collate and analyse data
  8. Data presentation
  9. Scientific report for the investigative project
  10. Scientific evaluation of findings
  11. Skill development within project work


In this unit, you will carry out an investigative project that you have chosen in collaboration with your teacher.

You will choose one topic area that interests you and this will form the basis of your investigative project. You will carry out a scientific literature search and review, considering the project’s aims and objectives, then produce a realistic plan and carry out the project safely using your scientific investigation skills, project management skills and what you have learnt from the other units. Finally, you will prepare an evaluative report that will consider the project outcomes and suggest amendments that may have improved those outcomes. To complete the assessment task within this unit, you will need to draw on your learning from across your programme.

Completing an investigative project is an excellent way for you to develop an understanding of the science-related workplace. The skills developed in this unit will be of considerable benefit for progression to higher education in a variety of science and science-related courses and to employment in the science or applied science sector.

Knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.