Qualifications Explained


GCE A Levels (General Certificate of Education Advanced Levels)

A Levels are Level 3 courses and can be achieved in two parts; year one comprises the AS Level and this can be a freestanding qualification in its own right. However, to achieve a full A Level, students need to complete a further year of study at A2. Completing A Levels usually allows you to progress on to a degree course.

BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council)

BTECs are work related qualifications suitable for a wide range of students, built to accommodate the needs of employers and allow progression to university. They provide a more practical, real-world approach to learning alongside a key theoretical background. They can be taken as well as, or in place of, GCSEs and A levels in schools and colleges.

NVQs (National Vocational Qualification)

These are qualifications that are based on the skills and knowledge needed for specific jobs. They usually have a level after the course such as NVQ Level 3 in Administration.


These are Level 2 qualifications, which cover an NVQ, Key Skills and a Technical Certificate, which make up the Apprenticeships. Advanced Apprenticeships offer Level 3 qualifications and can lead to progression to Level 4 Foundation Degree or Degree Level study.

HNC (Higher National Certificate)

A HNC is a Level 4 course which allows you to progress onto a HND course. This is equivalent to the first year of a degree.

HND (Higher National Diploma)

A HND is a Level 5 course which allows you to progress onto a degree top-up course. This is equivalent to the second year of a degree.

Foundation Degrees

A Foundation Degree allows you to be in employment and work for a Level 5 qualification. The Foundation Degree allows progression on to a full degree through a top-up course.

Degree or Undergraduate Courses (BA, BSc etc.)

A Degree is a Level 6 course which allows you to progress on to postgraduate courses such as a Masters (MBA, MSc etc.).