What qualification level means: England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Overview

It is indeed a confusing situation for international learners who intend to undertake higher education in the UK.  The primary question that comes to their minds is: What qualification level means in England, Wales and Northern Ireland?  What does Level stand for?  What do I do if I have an A-Level and what options I have after that?  Here is the most credible clarification from UK.GOV

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are 9 qualification levels. Most qualifications have a difficulty level. The higher the level, the more difficult the qualification is.

Please see below the list of qualification levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and an understanding of what each qualification levels means.

Entry level

Each entry level qualification is available at three sub-levels – 1, 2 and 3. Entry level 3 is the most difficult out of the three.

Entry level qualifications are:

  • entry level award
  • entry level certificate (ELC)
  • entry level diploma
  • entry level English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • entry level essential skills
  • entry level functional skills
  • Skills for Life

Level 1

Level 1 qualifications are:

  • first certificate
  • GCSE – grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, G
  • level 1 award
  • level 1 certificate
  • level 1 diploma
  • level 1 ESOL
  • level 1 essential skills
  • level 1 functional skills
  • level 1 national vocational qualification (NVQ)
  • music grades 1, 2 and 3

Level 2

Level 2 qualifications are:

  • CSE – grade 1
  • GCSE – grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*, A, B, C
  • intermediate apprenticeship
  • level 2 award
  • level 2 certificate
  • level 2 diploma
  • level 2 ESOL
  • level 2 essential skills
  • level 2 functional skills
  • level 2 national certificate
  • level 2 national diploma
  • level 2 NVQ
  • music grades 4 and 5
  • O level – grade A, B or C

Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are:

  • A level
  • access to higher education diploma
  • advanced apprenticeship
  • applied general
  • AS level
  • international Baccalaureate diploma
  • level 3 award
  • level 3 certificate
  • level 3 diploma
  • level 3 ESOL
  • level 3 national certificate
  • level 3 national diploma
  • level 3 NVQ
  • music grades 6, 7 and 8
  • tech level

Level 4

Level 4 qualifications are:

  • certificate of higher education (CertHE)
  • higher apprenticeship
  • higher national certificate (HNC)
  • level 4 award
  • level 4 certificate
  • level 4 diploma
  • level 4 NVQ

Level 5

Level 5 qualifications are:

  • diploma of higher education (DipHE)
  • foundation degree
  • higher national diploma (HND)
  • level 5 award
  • level 5 certificate
  • level 5 diploma
  • level 5 NVQ

Level 6

Level 6 qualifications are:

  • degree apprenticeship
  • degree with honours – for example bachelor of the arts (BA) hons, bachelor of science (BSc) hons
  • graduate certificate
  • graduate diploma
  • level 6 award
  • level 6 certificate
  • level 6 diploma
  • level 6 NVQ
  • ordinary degree without honours

Level 7

Level 7 qualifications are:

  • integrated master’s degree, for example master of engineering (MEng)
  • level 7 award
  • level 7 certificate
  • level 7 diploma
  • level 7 NVQ
  • master’s degree, for example master of arts (MA), master of science (MSc)
  • postgraduate certificate
  • postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)
  • postgraduate diploma

Level 8

Level 8 qualifications are:

  • doctorate, for example doctor of philosophy (PhD or DPhil)
  • level 8 award
  • level 8 certificate
  • level 8 diploma

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