BSc (Hons) Software Development (Graduate Apprenticeship) BSc (Hons)

Enhance your knowledge in mainstream and emerging Software Development - focusing on technical, business and project management skills


The Graduate Apprenticeship in BSc (Hons) Software Development has a high employability focus to prepare you for industry. Throughout the course you will learn a mixture of vocational skills such as Java and C# programming, Web Development, Agile-based project management, and DevOps. This is delivered alongside fundamental theory in areas such as algorithms and mathematics. Through the Graduate Apprenticeship, you apply these skills immediately in real-world situations in the workplace, developing a high-demand skill-set for graduates with a solid understanding of software development combined with key communication, business and project management skills.

The Software Development Graduate Apprenticeship will develop your ability to apply professional standards to the analysis, design, testing, evaluation and modification of reliable and maintainable software across a several different application areas. You will also develop your critical, analytical and problem-based learning skills in relation to computing issues, and apply these immediately in the workplace. Software Development is a fast-changing discipline that requires the need for continuous professional development. This industry-led Graduate Apprenticeship ensures that you develop your skills in learning that will underpin your ability to ensure that your technical skills can be kept up-to-date, while also providing the required business and project management skills to enhance your career.

Our Graduate Apprentices will typically initially work in job roles such as IT Support, Software Tester, Application Support Analyst and Junior Developer. Successful graduates go onto enhance their careers in senior and leading roles within the Software Engineering industry, such as developer, architect, consultant and managerial roles.

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Mode of Study:

Day Release, Full-time


4 years

Course details

As a Graduate Apprentice you will study for your degree alongside your job, spending approximately 80% of your time in work and 20% in university. This unique combination offers an integrated experience, where practical skills and knowledge gained during the university days can be embedded in your working practices. Skills learned directly in the workplace are aligned with and can be applied to coursework and assessment. This allows you to attain an honours degree in 4 years, the same time as traditional full-time students.

At the beginning of the course you will gain practical experience of software development using object-oriented programming, as well as an understanding of how software systems are used in businesses, and methods to build effective user interfaces. You are then taught key methods of software engineering used in industry, while expanding your knowledge of areas such as databases and operating systems.

In the latter years of the course, you will undertake significant work-based learning and develop the key skills required by industry, such as project management, secure software development, and techniques to facilitate software evolution.  You will also gain experience of emerging areas such as artificial intelligence, and software engineering for safety critical systems. At this stage you will be able to design and develop large-scale software systems and be able to choose appropriate methodologies to do so.

As you progress through the course, more of your job role will be used to gain credit towards your final award. This is captured in the Professional Practice modules which allow us to personalise your learning to ensure it meets your needs, those of your employer and the university.

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    How you’ll be taught

    This Graduate Apprenticeship is taught over 4 years at our School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, based in our Merchiston Campus in Central Edinburgh. It is delivered across three trimesters over a full calendar year on a day release basis. You attend classes one day per week, in years 1 and 2, studying 2 modules per day. Professional Practice modules are work based and timetabled in the summer trimester, for which there is no on-campus requirement, offering greater flexibility. In years 3 and 4 the emphasis on work-based learning increases and on-campus teaching is significantly reduced.

    Your work-based learning will be overseen by a workplace mentor and university coach. You will be offered tripartite progress review meetings each trimester to support you in your work and studies.

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    A mixture of practical assessments, reports, academic essays and exams. You are also assessed on your learning in the workplace, primarily in the summer trimesters. As you progress through the course, more of your job role is used to gain credit towards their final award through Professional Practice and your final-year dissertation.

    The assessments will allow you to demonstrate your application of the knowledge and skills you are gaining both though your studies and through your work experience.

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    Work placement

    You will be a full-time employee for the duration of the programme.

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    Graduate apprentices can enjoy the same full access to our campus facilities as a full-time student. All learning takes place at our Merchiston campus, which is centrally located in the heart of Edinburgh. Merchiston campus is home to our creative, computing and engineering students.

    Facilities include modern classrooms and cutting-edge labs. Our Merchiston Library is a bright attractive environment providing both silent and collaborative study spaces designed to suit a variety of learning styles. In addition, Merchiston boasts a business incubator, two cafes and a 500-seat computing centre, with both Mac and PC hardware, that is open 24hrs a day in Trimesters 1 and 2.


Popular modules

Year 1

  • Information Systems in Organisations
  • Software Development 1
  • Computer Systems 1
  • Introduction to Human Computer Interaction
  • Mathematics for Software Engineering
  • Professional Practice 1: Work-Based Project

Year 2

  • Database Systems
  • Object Oriented Software Development
  • Software Engineering Methods
  • Project Management for Information Systems
  • Professional Practice 2: Work –Based Project

Year 3

  • User-Centred Organisational Systems
  • Algorithms and Data Structures
  • Software Engineering
  • Professional Practice 3: Work-Based Project

Year 4

  • Software Architecture
  • Formal Approaches to Software Engineering
  • Information Security and Society
  • Honours Project: Work-Based Project


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

This programme is available to new and existing employees who work and reside in Scotland. Entry requirements cater to professionals and can account for both academic and work-based experience. You need to be employed with a supporting organisation to be eligible, and must have a job within the same field as your chosen subject area.

All applicants must:

Be 16 or older (some employers may require 18+)
Have the right to live and work permanently in the UK
Have ordinary residence in Scotland
Meet programme entry requirements

Advanced Entry
Advanced entry into Year 2 or 3 is possible for students with suitable qualifications. If applying for advanced entry, you will need to provide sufficient evidence of qualifications and experience through our process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Applications are considered on an individual basis.

Work Experience and Professional Qualifications
We encourage applications from individuals whose work experience or professional qualifications provide them with a comparable foundation for starting the course. You will be considered through our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process and asked to provide evidence of relevant work experience through a detailed CV or application form, including an employer reference. Advanced entry may also be granted if you have sufficient industry-related experience and qualifications.

Usually, unrelated work experience is not considered sufficient for entry without meeting the minimum academic entry requirements.

Foundation and Modern Apprenticeships
We offer enhanced recognition for Foundation and Modern Apprenticeships if you are applying to a Graduate Apprenticeship in a similar subject area. Please refer to our typical entry requirements for more information on each course.

Already have a degree or similar qualification?
You could apply for funding for a Graduate Apprenticeship in a similar subject area if your existing qualification is at a lower level. You may also be eligible for funding if you have completed a degree in a different subject area. For example, if you recently completed a Biology Honours degree, you can still apply for a Civil Engineering Graduate Apprenticeship..

You are not eligible to apply for a Graduate Apprenticeship if you have completed a similar degree within the past 5 years.

To meet our Standard Entry Requirements you must have EITHER:

  • Four SQA Highers at Grade BBBB (or equivalent) including Computing or Maths. National 5 grade C in Maths/Lifeskills Maths/Applications of Maths and English are required if not taken at Higher
  • A Foundation Apprenticeship in an IT subject at SCQF Level 6 plus two SQA Highers at Grade BB
  • A Modern Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 6-7 in an ICT/Digital related discipline
  • HNC with C in the graded unit in a related discipline
  • Sufficient recognition of prior learning (RPL) through industry-related experience, qualifications, and informal learning. RPL applications are considered on an individual basis

Our Minimum Offer Entry Requirement: BBCC. National 5 grade C in Maths/Lifeskills Maths/Applications of Maths and English.

You may be given an adjusted offer of entry if you meet our specified minimum entry requirements within our widening participation criteria, and outlined in our Contextual Admissions Policy. Click here for further information about our entry requirements and admissions policies.

To meet our year 2 entry requirements you must have EITHER:

A Modern Apprenticeship in a related discipline at SCQF Level 8
An HNC at Grade A in a related discipline
An HND at Grade B in a related discipline
A minimum of two SQA Advanced Highers at Grade BB (or equivalent) including Computing
Sufficient recognition of prior learning (RPL) through industry-related experience, qualifications, and informal learning

To enter this programme at the start of Year 3 you must have 240 SCQF credits (or equivalent) of which a minimum of 120 credits are at SCQF 8 (or equivalent) and/or significant recognition of prior learning (RPL) through industry-related experience, qualifications, and informal learning.

SCQF Level 8 qualifications can include:

  • HND at minimum Grade B in a related discipline
  • Diploma for Higher Education in a relevant subject area

English language requirements

As all learning, teaching and assessment activities are conducted in English, if your first language is not English you must have a minimum International English Language Testing System score of 6.0 with all four elements having a score of at least 5.5.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding


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As a Graduate Apprentice you are fortunate to be studying for your honours degree alongside your work-based apprenticeship position and to have the support of both Edinburgh Napier staff and your workplace. You are first and foremost an employee for your organisation, and therefore could develop your career through your entire apprenticeship journey. Your employer will look for opportunities for you to apply your learning in work and develop as a professional, meaning you may be offered career progression opportunities at any time during your studies.

On completion you can build their career in an IT workstream within disciplines such as:

Software Engineer
Web Developer
Project Manager
Software Support Analysts
Software Developer
Software Tester

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