One of the most common questions we receive here at Distance Learning College and Training is:
‘What do different course levels mean and how they compare to more ‘traditional’ qualifications like GCSE’s, A Levels or degrees?’
Course Level Numbers
The online courses we offer, from every Institute we’re accredited by are available in different levels. From two to seven, depending on your distance learning course. The levels convey where the qualification sits on the National Qualification Framework (NQF) which also allows different qualifications to be compared against each other.
Distance learning courses titled as ‘Certificate’ and ‘Award’ don’t relate to your level of study. Yet the National Qualification framework makes it much easier to compare qualifications provided by different institutes and accrediting bodies due to their levels. We know it can be slightly confusing but our Course Advisors are experts and helping you understand which level is best for you and what your qualification will equate to.
The NQF levels and their equivalents in ‘traditional’ qualifications are shown below:
- Entry level qualifications are equivalent to studying at Foundation Diploma level.
- A Level 1 qualification is equivalent to GCSE grade D-G level.
- A Level 2 qualification is equivalent to GCSE grade A*-C level.
- A Level 3 qualification is equivalent to A Level.
- A Level 4 qualification is equivalent to BTEC Professional Diploma level.
- A Level 5 qualification is equivalent to HND or foundation degree level.
- A Level 6 qualification is equivalent to Bachelor’s Degree level.
- A Level 7 qualification is equivalent to Master’s Degree level.
- A Level 8 qualification is equivalent to Doctorate level.
It’s important to remember that this is only a guide and that the NQF levels aren’t always exact. It can depend on the course length and content.
If you have a degree, you shouldn’t necessarily start at Level 6.
Despite a degree being the equivalent to a Level 6 on the NQF scale, the entry requirements are very different.
Professional qualifications such as CILT or CIPS focus on your work experience rather than academic qualifications. Therefore, your starting level for your distance learning course depends on on your current job role and experience.
The NQF qualification levels also relate to the job role that is suitable to each level. Please see the following examples:
- Entry Level: People working at Level 1 have a basic level of knowledge, and are able to complete tasks under direct supervision. This level of qualification is not aimed at specific job roles, but rather at building basic skills.
- Level 1: People working at Level 1 have a basic level of knowledge relating to their profession, working with guidance or under some supervision to complete everyday tasks.
- Level 2: Level 2 represents a good level of knowledge in the student’s chosen area, allowing them to complete a varied range of tasks with some supervision or guidance.
- Level 3: Level 3 represents a range of knowledge and skills, including detailed knowledge of one or more areas. Level 3 corresponds to job roles where students are required to work independently.
- Level 4: People working at Level 4 have specialist or advanced knowledge and skills – Level 4 is aimed at technical or professional job roles, sometimes with supervisory or first line management elements.
- Level 5: People working at Level 5 are involved in complex decision making and problem solving – this is generally in the form of middle managerial roles.
- Level 6: Level 6 moves from gaining knowledge through study to using the student’s original research and ideas to solve problems – Level 6 is aimed at senior managerial and professional roles.
- Level 7: Level 7 represents the use of detailed original research to deal with complex and unpredictable situations, in jobs such as strategic management or directorial roles.
- Level 8: People working at Level 8 are considered leading experts in their field – their role would involve developing new approaches to extend or redefine current knowledge or best practice in their chosen subject area.
Again, we know this can be a lot to take in but we have a team here at Distance Learning College and Training who are incredibly helpful, reliable and understanding. They can assist in deciphering the qualifications and decided which online course is right for you and your ambitions.
When choosing a professional qualification, matching your current role and experience is key. And we’ve got the experts, so contact our Course Advisors today.