Most courses and qualifications are grouped by difficulty level, also known as a qualification level. In England, these levels are determined by Ofqual through something called the Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF).

Qualification Levels

Here is a brief description of what to expect when studying courses at certain levels... 👇

Entry levelFor absolute beginners, with no prior knowledge or experience in a particular field of study. 
Level 1Also for beginners, but offers a greater level of understanding and skill-building than Entry Level courses. Equivalent to GCSE grades three to one (D to G) or a foundation GNVQ. 
Level 2Provides knowledge and experience in a specific area. Equivalent to GCSE grades nine to four (A*-C), an intermediate GNVQ, or a first-class BTEC certificate. 
Level 3Complex work and skill-building, as well as some supervisory development. Equivalent to an A-level, BTEC National, or an ONC (Ordinary National Certificate). 
Level 4Best suited for junior managerial personnel, with experience in a supervisory role. Equivalent to an undergraduate degree or a full technical BTEC diploma. 
Level 5The same as Level 4 but with a greater emphasis on technical and managerial skills. Again, equivalent to an undergraduate degree. 
Level 6Suited to senior managerial personnel seeking associateship in a key field of study. Equivalent to a graduate degree. 
Level 7Similar to Level 6, though equivalent to a postgraduate degree. Masters’ level accreditation. 
Level 8The highest vocational qualification available, equivalent to a doctoral fellowship.

Qualification Sizes

Courses come in numerous levels and also various sizes too. The qualification 'size' is based on the number of credits the course offers - credits that can be used to progress onto a higher level course. Most qualifications come in 3 different lengths. In order of course size, these are Award, Certificate and Diploma - but what does each course size mean? 👇


1 to 12 credits. This is the shortest version of the course and includes the least amount of modules required to complete the course.


13 to 36 credits. The happy middle-ground. Typically the certificate course covers all the requirements you will need.


37 credits or more. This is the longest version of the course and includes all of the available modules.

Which qualification level and size are right for me?

The recommended qualification level can vary depending on subject knowledge and previous qualifications obtained. Where possible, we advise students to study the largest version of the course to get the most out of it, but there are no set rules. It really depends on why you need to study, how quickly you need to achieve the qualification and how in-depth you want your knowledge to be. If you're unsure which qualification level or size is the right one for you, feel free to get in touch and one our friendly learning advisers would be happy to help you.