Guide to Qualifications

Pre-Entry and Entry Level

Pre-entry courses are designed for complete beginners and will move students onto the next level of study.  Learners will gain appropriate qualifications in Literacy (reading, writing and spelling), Communication Skills, Numeracy (basic mathematics), IT and general study skills.


Entry level courses vary in their focus and are designed to encourage independence and teach new skills. There are no specific entry requirements for these courses and applicants will be asked to attend a College interview.

A Levels

A Levels are Level 3 courses. The first year of study is the AS Level and the second year is A2 which together make a full A Level qualification. A Levels offer the opportunity to study several subject areas in greater depth than GCSEs; students choose up to four subjects and the course usually combines exams and coursework.

BTEC Awards/Certificates/Diplomas

BTEC Awards/Certificates/Diplomas are vocational courses related to a broad occupational area and combine practical, hands-on activities with detailed technical study. The Award is studied over one year and consists of six modules, the Certificate is studied over two years and consists of twelve modules, and the Diploma is studied full time over two years and consists of eighteen modules.


NVQs are nationally recognised qualifications designed to combine practical teaching with work experience. NVQs are open to all those who can demonstrate the required standard of competence and display an understanding of the knowledge which underpins  the area of study, irrespective of previous academic or career achievements. Some NVQ courses may ask for students to be employed in the profession before starting the course, but not all.


An Apprenticeship is a programme of training in a chosen field which allows students to learn whilst working full time for an employer, earning money and attending college. While at College students learn the fundamental skills and knowledge which are developed and put into practice in the workplace.

Access to Higher Education Diplomas

Access to Higher Education Diplomas are nationally-recognised qualifications which can provide you with an alternative route into Higher Education. For those who do not hold any formal qualifications, success on an Access programme is the best route to an interview for a place on a degree course at university or college. Access courses are also suitable for students who have English as a second language.

HNCs/HNDs/Foundation Degrees

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), together with Foundation Degrees are equivalent to the first one or two years of an Honours degree, and are also qualifications in their own right. They are as relevant to school leavers as they are to those already in employment. Students can also top up these qualifications to achieve a full degree. Foundation year courses are designed to support students onto a full degree programme and add an extra year onto a course.

Degree Courses

Undergraduate degree qualifications allow you to specialise in a subject area at Higher Education. They aid students’ employability, providing knowledge and skills in greater detail. Undergraduate degrees usually take three to four years to complete, depending on the subject area.  Sandwich degrees combine an extra year in the workplace, usually between years two and three.



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