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Vocational (work-related) qualifications overview   

An overview of some of the vocational qualifications on offer in schools, colleges and universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

BTEC First Diploma

BTECs and NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) are taken as an alternative to GCSEs and A-levels.

What it can lead to

Access to AS- and A-level study, skills for initial career entry.

Entry requirements

General education.

Course content

Career-related subject study; class tuition, practical project work.

Duration

One year.

Find out more about BTEC First Diplomas.


Applied GCSE

One applied GCSE is equivalent to two conventional GCSEs. As with other GCSEs, grades range from A* (the highest) to G.

What it can lead to

Access to AS- and A-level study, or to vocational study; initial career entry.

Entry requirements

General education and English language.

Course content

Career-related subject study; class tuition, practical projects. 

Duration

One or two years.

Find out more about Applied GCSEs.


AS-/A-level in an applied subject

A-levels in applied subjects (at N/SVQ level 3) are available, to run parallel to academic A-levels. Students in many schools and colleges will study a mixture of academic and vocational A-levels.

What it can lead to

Access to related degree study; skills and knowledge for career entry.

Entry requirements

Four or five GCSEs (grades A*–C).

Course content

Career-related subject study; class tuition, practical projects. 

Duration

One year, or two years for a double award.

Find out more about A-levels in applied subjects.


14–19 Diploma

A new qualification with a more vocational/practical element than GCSEs or A-levels, which will cover 17 subject areas in the next few years.

What it can lead to

Access to related degree study; skills and knowledge for career entry.

Entry requirements

For Level 1 and Level 2: general education. For Level 3: functional skills (English, Maths and ICT) at Level 2.

Course content

Career-related subject study; class tuition, practical projects. 

Duration

Two years.

Find out more about the Diploma.


BTEC National Diploma

The BTEC National Diploma is a vocational qualification at N/SVQ level 3. It is the equivalent of three A-levels.

What it can lead to

Access to degree study; useful beginning for a new career or career change.

Entry requirements

Four or five GCSEs (grades A*–C) or BTEC First Certificate/Diploma.

Course content

Career-related subject study; class tuition, practical projects.

Duration

Two years.

Find out more about the BTEC National Diploma.


BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Diploma (HND)

The HNC is regarded as having a standard slightly above that of A-levels, and can be used as an entrance qualification to first-degree programmes in related subjects.

The HND is a qualification approximately equivalent to the first two years of a Bachelor’s degree. Both qualifications are N/SVQ level 4.

What it can lead to

Access to degree study; skills and knowledge for higher level of career entry.

Entry requirements

At least one A-level or BTEC National Diploma or relevant work experience.

Course content

Lectures, seminars and practical application of skills and knowledge, assessed by a combination of coursework, projects and exams. 

Duration

Two years full time for BTEC HND, two years part time for BTEC HNC.

Find out more about BTEC HNCs and HNDs.


Foundation degree

Some universities offer work-based qualifications equal to the first two years of a three-year course.

What it can lead to

Conversion to a full degree upon completion of another one or two years’ study; skills and knowledge for higher level of career entry.

Entry requirements

No set entry requirements. The institution offering the course will decide if a candidate is eligible.

Course content

Lectures, seminars and tutorials, plus workplace projects and/or accredited work experience; assessed by a combination of coursework and exams.

Duration

Two years full time, with part-time programmes of varying lengths.

Find out more about foundation degrees.


First degree (Bachelor’s)

A first degree, leading to a BA (Bachelor of Arts), BSc (Bachelor of Science) or equivalent, is gained after three or more years studying at university or a similar institution. Degrees usually begin at the age of 18, after a student has finished school.

What it can lead to

Graduate career entry; access to postgraduate study.

Entry requirements

Two or three A-levels with AS-levels, GCSEs and English language proficiency (5.5–7.0 IELTS or 513–587 (paper-based), 183–240 (computer-based) or 65–95 (internet based) TOEFL).

Course content

Lectures, seminars and tutorials, assessed by a combination of coursework, projects and exams.

Duration

Three years (four for ‘sandwich’ programmes including work placements).

Find out more about Bachelor’s degrees.


Postgraduate Diploma and Certificate (PgDip, PgCert)

The PG Cert and PG Dip are taught qualifications, and are not awarded for research. These qualifications are approximately intermediate in academic level between a first (Bachelor’s) degree and a Master’s degree.

What it can lead to

Entry to careers requiring highest levels of specific skills.

Entry requirements

Degree in relevant subject and English language proficiency (5.5–7.0 IELTS or 513–587 (paper-based), 183–240 (computer-based) or 65–95 (internet based) TOEFL).

Course content

Seminars, tutorials combined with a large amount of independent research and regular assignments.

Duration

Nine months.

Find out more about Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas.


Taught Master’s degree

These postgraduate courses (MA (Master of Arts), MSc (Master of Science) or equivalent) are generally more specialised than first degrees, and focus on particular elements of an academic discipline, or on professional subject areas that are not available for undergraduate study.

What it can lead to

Entry to careers requiring highest levels of specific skills.

Entry requirements

Degree in relevant subject and English language proficiency (5.5–7.0 IELTS or 513–587 (paper-based), 183–240 (computer-based) or 65–95 (internet based) TOEFL).

Course content

Seminars, tutorials combined with a large amount of independent research and regular assignments.

Duration

Nine months.

Find out more about taught Master’s degrees.

 

  


 

                    


 
 
 
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