Course details

Course code


Course level

Level 5

Next course date



2-3 years part time


Enterprise Centre, Distance learning

Course description

The clay industry is part of the minerals sector, which includes clay extraction, quarrying, surface mining, cement and related manufacturing industries, and is vital to the world economy. In the UK it's worth over £9 billion each year and employs some 70,000 people in a variety of roles (Mineral Products Association, 2012). Jobs exist at many extractions sites across the country, as well as brick works, marine wharves, cement plants, concrete plants and aggregate recycling operations.

If you're already employed in the clay industry, or have an interest in it, this programme will enable you to gain an internationally recognised academic qualification. It reflects UK and EU standards and best practice, and will help you if you're aiming to become a clay technologist or an operational manager and wish to acquire professional status.

You'll undertake a portfolio of work relates assessment that applies everything you learn to your workplace, so you can make a real impact in your role.

Study tour

You can choose to join a five day study tour of sites relevant to the minerals industry so you can widen your knowledge and experience.

Programme modules

  • Industry Introduction - 20 credits at Level 4

  • Engineering I - 20 credits at Level 4

  • Mathermatics - 20 credits at Level 4
  • Construction Product Tech - 20 credits Level 4
  • Engineering II - 20 credits Level 4
  • Industry Technology - 20 credits Level 4
  • Clay Evaluation and Investigation - 20 Credits Level 5


  • Business Management - 20 credits at Level 5
  • Engineering III - 20 credits at Level 5
  • Clay Winning and Preparation -20 credits at Level 5
  • Clay Forming - 20 credits at Level 5
  • Clay Drying and Firing - 20 credits at Level 5

Structure, certificates and assessment

Certificate of Higher Education stage

Industry Introduction (20 credits)
You'll gain the underpinning knowledge and understanding of the mineral products industry, covering the economics of the industry, its role in modern economies and how it is rooted in the fabric of civilisation. You'll also cover industry topics such as the variety of materials, importance of health and safety, environmental awareness, geology, communications and surveying.

Mathematics (20 credits)
You'll understand mathematical principles and techniques and learn how to apply them to applications in the fields of engineering and mineral extractives technology. You'll apply your own experience and observation to develop a wider understanding of the use of mathematics.

Engineering 1 (20 credits)
You'll cover the principles of mechanical and electrical engineering which are fundamental to the operation of production, processing and mobile plant. You'll develop an understanding of mechanics, as well as the basic theories and concepts of electricity, electrical circuits, measurement and magnetism and induction.

Engineering 2 (20 credits)
You'll continue to explore fundamental engineering concepts in this module. You'll cover the principles and concepts of heat and fuels, corrosion and fixed structures. You'll also continue to explore the use of AC power, electrical power transmission systems and related topics.

Industry Technology (20 credits)
You'll develop your knowledge of the safe and effective operation of mineral extraction and construction sites and the identification of geological hazards. You'll cover the principles of earth moving and earthwork design, the influence geology has over construction sites, surveying techniques and further work in the area of health and safety.

Construction Products Technology (20 credits)
Mineral resources form the basis of many products used in construction. This module develops knowledge about the technology, standards, specifications and other requirements that apply to these products. It includes aspects such as the methods used to sample and test mineral products in a safe manner. In addition, it develops knowledge of the technology and principles of making and using bituminous mixtures, concrete and clay products. The module also provides knowledge of the techniques used to manage product quality so as to satisfy the needs of the customer.

Foundation degree stage

Evaluation and Investigation (20 credits)
You'll gain the underpinning knowledge of clay mineralogy and the techniques that can be used to identify potential sources of clay and their potential for uses in clay products. You'll cover the practical and scientific knowledge required to understand the environmental, planning and geological factors that can have an impact on the development of a clay extraction site. In addition, you'll learn about site surveying and site investigation methods including the ways of describing the characteristics and classification of clay.

Clay Winning and Preparation (20 credits)
This module will provide you with an underpinning knowledge of the methods and techniques used to extract and then process stockpiled clay for use in clay products. You will cover the areas of practical and scientific knowledge required to perform at the appropriate level within the clay technology industry and provide an understanding of the issues and constraints associated with crushing and size reduction of clay lumps and particles. The module will review the various processes used to prepare the clay so that it can be used to produce clay products in a safe way that also respects the environment. It includes the methods that can be used to adjust and modify the characteristics of the processed clay.

Clay Forming (20 credits)
You'll develop your practical and scientific knowledge around moulded clay, the techniques used to control the forming process and how surface treatments can be used to create particular surface characteristics and properties. The module also provides an understanding of how different surface finished can be used to provide resistance to specific ground conditions and end-user environments.

Clay Drying and Firing (20 credits)
In this module you'll develop your practical and scientific knowledge of the drying and firing processes that are used to produce different types of clay products and how they impact on the characteristics of the material. You'll cover the chemistry and economics of firing, the economic operation of kilns, statistical process control techniques, and the safe operation required in order to comply with pollution controls. The module will develop your awareness of the Standards which define the characteristics of finished clay products, product conformity, methods used to stack and pack products and the management of customer requirements through quality management systems.

Business Management (20 credits)
This module develops the business and financial knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the effective management of a mineral extraction site, a road construction site or a related manufacturing facility. This includes an understanding of the human implications of running a successful business. The module also cultivates an appreciation of the importance of achieving the highest standards of performance in health, safety and the environment, especially in the recognition of the importance of people in developing a positive health and a safety culture.

Engineering 3 (20 credits)
The module will develop an awareness of the need for lubrication and bearings, an understanding of the principles and concepts associated with hydraulic systems, their application and associated dangers. Also, the module introduces mechanical power transmission systems applied to plant and instrumentation in the sector and develops an understanding of the behaviour of gases and how these are applied to the construction and operations of compressors, pumps and internal combustions engines. An understanding of plant operating and maintenance schemes and that of safe design and guarding of plant is also developed. Furthermore, the module introduces the different types of electrical generators and motors and their applications within the sector before developing knowledge in the field of electronics and awareness in relation to electrical safety, earthing, earth leakage and overcurrent protection.

How you'll learn

You'll study part time, online, and can choose to attend a number of optional weekend tutorials each year at Derby in the UK. Here you'll work face to face with our specialist academic staff, all of whom have extensive experience within the industry. It's also an opportunity to meet colleagues in your sector - swapping ideas and sharing best practice.

These are not compulsory and will not affect your studying if you don't attend

Your learning is supplemented through online video and guest lecture presentations. Your programme materials are in an interactive/electronic format and are released to you throughout the year. You'll have full online access to our library and other learning resources.

How you're assessed

You'll be assessed through a combination of exams and continuous assessment.

Entry requirements

If you have experience in the clay sector, as well as positive support from your employer, we will welcome your application.

Fees and funding

UK and EU students

International students

*These fees apply if you’re starting this course between September 2018 and August 2019. We recommend you check fee details with us though, as they can change.

How to apply

Students should apply directly to the University.

Apply directly to the University

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Contact us

Clay Technology 0800 678 3311

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