Qualification Levels

Different qualifications are grouped together into various ‘levels’. This can help learners, learning representatives and employers understand how qualifications compare and how one can lead onto another.

These levels are contained in qualification frameworks, known as the National Qualifications Framework (NFQ) and the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). Within any one level, qualifications can cover a wide mix of subjects, and take different amounts of time to complete.


Higher Education (HE) Qualifications

HE refers to studying qualifications at Level 4 and above, such as degrees. HE courses can be studied on a full-time or, in many cases, part-time or distance learning basis. These can be studied in further and higher education colleges and universities, as well as at home and in the workplace.

Some courses are delivered flexibly, meaning they can be studied in bite-sizes, which allows the learner to build their own qualification over a period of time. Every HE course will have it’s own specific entry requirements and these can vary greatly between institutions. A number of HE institutions recognise previous learning and experience gained in the workplace in their entry criteria.


The Levels

Level 1: BTEC Foundation, NVQ Level 1, Professional Qualifications, Pre-Apprenticeship.

Level 2: BTEC First, Pre-Access Diploma, Intermediate Apprenticeship, NVQ Level 2, GCSE Grades A*- C, Professional Qualifications.

Level 3: A-Levels, International Baccalaureate (IB), BTEC National Access to HE Diploma, Advanced Apprenticeship, NVQ Level 3, Professional Qualifications.

Level 4: Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE), BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC), First Year of a Foundation Degree (FdA/FdSc), First Year of an Honours Degree (BA/BSc), Higher Apprenticeship, NVQ Level 4, and Professional Qualifications.

Level 5: Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE), Second Year of an Honours Degree (FdA/FdSc), BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND), NVQ Level 5, Higher Apprenticeship, Professional Qualifications.

Level 6: Third Year of an Honours Degree (BA/BSc), Higher Apprenticeship, Professional Qualifications.

Level 7: Postgraduate Diploma (PG Diploma), Master Degree (Msc/MA), Higher Apprenticeship, Professional Qualifications.

Level 8: Doctorate (PhD, EdD, Professional Qualifications.


Further Information

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