Diploma in Packaging Technology

The Diploma in Packaging Technology is internationally recognised as the premier qualification in the packaging industry and is accredited by PIABC.

PIABC is approved as an awarding organisation by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). 

The Diploma is a Level 5 (foundation degree-level) qualification that prepares students to take responsibility for packaging operations at any level through the supply chain and can also lead to higher level study.

The Diploma course is divided into four units, and students must satisfactorily complete all units to gain the Diploma. However students may choose to study individual units if preferred, to gain a Certificate of Achievement. The Diploma and other courses offered by the Institute lead to qualifications awarded by the PIABC which is an awarding body recognised by the UK Government’s Ofqual for providing qualifications for the packaging industry.

Successful completion of this course prepares students for progression in the packaging industry to a position where they can assume responsibility for packaging in a company at any point in the supply chain.

Candidates will normally be expected to have a minimum of 1 GCE A level and 5 GCSEs at grade A–C, or equivalent, including one science subject, in addition to the key skills of numeracy, communication and information technology, or the Certificate in Packaging. Industrial experience can be used as an alternative to formal qualifications. Overall it is expected that course will take approximately 480 hours.

What’s in it for me? Completion of the Diploma in Packaging Technology demonstrates your commitment to your career and to the industry. Delegates who successfully complete the Diploma are equipping themselves for senior positions within the packaging industry. Networking opportunities abound, providing the opportunity to draw on the experience and knowledge of others.

Who is the course for? Diploma students are from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, and are typically experienced practitioners or managers in technical, sales/marketing, QA, purchasing, engineering or design. The Diploma is a Level 5 qualification (foundation degree level) and students should understand that this is a detailed course, and will therefore usually have an education at least up to UK ‘A’ level standard and/or relevant industry experience.

Read Q&A with packaging course participants  (PDF 142k)

Download the PIABC specification (PDF 383k)

Study Options

The Diploma can be studied intensively either at our offices in Grantham or onsite in regional centres. An online option is also available.

2017/2018 Courses:

1. Intensive (5 days over 3 months)

18 - 22 September, 16 - 20 October and 6 - 10 November 2017

19 - 23 February, 19 - 23 March and 16 - 20 April 2018

2. Onsite (3 days over 5 months)

Dates and locations

13 - 15 November 2017      Graphic Packaging International, Leicestershire
 8 - 10 January 2018          Linney, Plastek and Ardagh Metal, Mansfield
 5 - 7  February 2018        Iggesund, DS Smith and Innovia, Cumbria
12 - 14  March 2018            Astra Zeneca and Encirq Glass, Macclesfield and Elton
23 - 25 April 2018               Britiv, OPM, Leeds

3. Online

Every month (register at any time, no deadlines)

Further details about different study options

Course Structure

The Diploma in Packaging Technology is divided into four units. Assessment for units 1-3 is by examination, and for unit 4 by a 5000-7500 word assignment

Unit 1

Packaging in Today's World

This Unit will introduce learners to the subject of packaging by examining what packaging is used for and what it does for the product and the user, both within its broad social, economic and marketing context, and meeting its specific functional and aesthetic requirements. Emphasis is placed on understanding product properties and the different and sometimes conflicting requirements and expectations at each stage of the life of the product, and thus deriving packaging solutions to meet these requirements and expectations. Factors which affect the safety and legality of packed products are considered, along with ways of ensuring compliance, and the need to recognise and address environmental impact.

Unit 2

Packaging Materials and Components

In this Unit learners study the main packaging materials: glass, metals, paper/board and plastics, along with pack closures, adhesives and labels.

The raw materials, manufacturing processes and conversion processes used for high volume packaging materials and components are studied. Material properties are discussed, with an emphasis on linking back to "Packaging in Today's World" where performance properties required to meet the functions of packaging were considered. The properties and uses of the common packaging plastics are investigated, along with ways in which their properties can be modified to broaden their range of performance and uses. Pack closures and the factors affecting seal integrity are also covered in this Unit, along with adhesives and the typical materials used for labels.

Performance throughout all stages is considered, including packaging line (especially material/machine interfaces), storage and distribution, display and sale, use and disposal by the final consumer.

Market uses and applications, along with the influencing factors which affect current and future usage are also reviewed.

Unit 3

Packaging Processes

In this Unit, participants study in detail packaging machinery and packaging line operations.

The Unit also introduces participants to many of the management functions associated with the design, development, production and use of packaging materials and components. These include design, decoration, line operations and quality systems.

The main decoration processes will also be covered and how they relate to the main packaging materials. An understanding of colour, pre press processes and inks will also be covered. The advantages and disadvantages of each process are discussed, allowing students to select the most appropriate process for a range of packaging materials and components.

Throughout this Unit there is a requirement for a high level of knowledge and understanding of materials properties, as studied in "Packaging Materials and Components".

Unit 4

Packaging Related Research Project

Professional practitioners in the packaging industry are faced with different tasks and problems throughout their working life and a programme that prepares people for that type of role needs to ensure that they develop the skills of applying knowledge and expertise to the solving of such real life problems. This Unit is designed to enable candidates to apply what they know and have learned about packaging to a concrete research project perhaps in their own company. This involves specifying what is to be learned, carrying out research and tests and reporting on their findings. Tutors can play a key role in all stages of the organisation and completion of the project providing support and advice to candidates. Colleagues in the workplace and beyond and fellow students are also invaluable sources of support.

These activities are approved for Professional Development by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

IOM3 Training Academy is a service of IOM Communications Ltd.
Packaging courses are developed in conjunction with and endorsed by the Packaging Society, a division of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining.