Frequently asked Questions
What does Level 4 mean?
The ‘Level’ refers to the difficulty of a qualification. Most qualifications have a difficulty level which is indicated by a number from 1 to 8. The higher the number, the more difficult the qualification is.
- Level 1: GCSE - lower grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, G
- Level 2: GCSE - higher grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*, A, B, C
- Level 3: A level or AS level
- Level 4: higher national certificate (HNC)
- Level 5: A foundation degree or a higher national diploma (HND)
- Level 6: Degree - for example bachelor of the arts (BA) hons, bachelor of science (BSc) hons
- Level 7: Master’s Degree - for example master of arts (MA), master of science (MSc)
- Level 8: Doctorate - for example doctor of philosophy (PhD or DPhil)
What is a Diploma?
This refers to the length of time the qualification takes. Qualifications at the same difficulty level (the same number) may have different durations. A good example of this is AS and A levels. Both of these qualifications are Level 3 in terms of difficulty, but AS levels last 1 year and A levels last 2 years.
Based on the duration of the course the qualification will have a different name:
- Awards. These are short courses (between 10 and 120 hours in length)
- Certificates. These are mid-length courses (between 130 and 360 hours in length)
- Diplomas. These are in-depth training programs (over 370 hours in duration)
What are Regulated Qualifications?
In the UK, nationally recognised qualifications are part of the Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF). The RQF is a national framework regulated by OFQUAL on behalf of the government. As these qualifications are nationally recognised they are the preferred qualification by future employers.