UK Qualifications


The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is the system currently in place that lists the types of qualifications and education that is valid in the UK. The NQF has a frame work of levels that covers all levels of learning in the following categories: secondary education, further education, vocational, and higher education. These levels are marked 1 through 9 but with some of the more key levels listed below:

  • Level 2:
    • GCSE at grades A*-C

  • Level 3:
    • A Levels at all grades

    • Two Complete AS Levels at all grades

    • National Diplomas/Certificates/Awards

  • Level 5:
    • Foundation Degrees

    • Higher National Diplomas/Certificates

  • Level 6:
    • Undergraduate study Degrees with Honours

  • Level 7:
    • Postgraduate study Degrees (masters)

  • Level 8:
    • Doctoral and PHD

Post 16 educations are divided into two categories, Further Education and Higher Education. You will need to go through a Further Education qualification in order to gain access to Higher Education qualifications.

Further education offers two varieties of course. You can undertake an academic course that is intended to gain you entry into universities or you can undertake a vocational course that is meant to teach you a practical skill or trade.

Some Further Education qualifications are listed below: 

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

  • Skills for Life

  • A Levels

  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

  • BTEC Courses
    • Foundation Certificate

    • Intermediate Certificate

    • National Diploma

  • Foundation Courses

  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ)

  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)

  • Higher National Diploma (HND)

Higher Education is anything that is the equivalent to a full university degree and beyond, including studies at the levels of Masters and PHD.

This is the framework for higher education courses. Qualifications it covers include:

  • Certificate of Higher Education

  • Diploma of Higher Education

  • Bachelor’s degrees

  • Master’s degrees

  • Doctoral degrees

In order to get into university, the UK employs a UCAS points based system with a minimum number that you will have to accumulate through your studies in order to gain an acceptance to your application. Each university’s entry requirements differ so it is best to check each course’s details individually before submitting your applications via UCAS.

When progressing through your bachelor’s degree, the course is broken down into 3-4 year. For every year you complete you will gain a qualification: 

  • First year completed at university will result in a Certificate of Higher Education

  • Second year completed at university will result in a Diploma of Higher Education

  • Third year completed at University with result in obtaining a full Bachelors’ Degree
    The Marking Scheme is as follows, however always check with your university as there may be slight differences and discrepancies:

  • First-Class Honours (First or 1st) (70% and above)

  • Upper Second-Class Honours (2:1, 2.i) (60-70%)

  • Lower Second-Class Honours (2:2, 2.ii) (50-60%)

  • Third-Class Honours (Third or 3rd) (40-50%)

  • Fail (no degree is awarded)

  • Unclassified (some degrees aren't classified e.g. medicine or master’s degree)

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