Level 1 and Introductory courses.
Designed as an introduction to a subject area, these courses will give you a basic understanding of the subject and introduce you to industry skills. You will develop your confidence and employability skills to help prepare you for employment or study at the next level.

Level 2 Diplomas

This vocational alternative to GCSEs focuses on the subject area you want to study. You will gain practical skills and experience and have access to work experience placements. Grading for this course is Distinction, Merit or Pass. Successfully completing a Diploma will give you a qualification equivalent to five GCSEs at grade C or above.

Level 3

A range of A Level equivalent level 3 options are available within many subject areas. Level 3 programmes are focused on helping learners to access higher education and vocational employment leading to rewarding careers. The programme offered will be based on individual student needs and aspirations which will be discussed at interview. Extended Diplomas are equivalent to three A-Levels and are often used as a route to related higher education courses at university. National Certificates are equivalent to two A-levels. You will gain a thorough academic understanding of the subject area you choose, backed up with extensive practical skills and experience. Grading for these courses is Distinction, Merit or Pass.


National Vocational Qualifications are work-related, competence-based qualifications that reflect the skills and knowledge required to do a job effectively. Gaining an NVQ shows that you can do a job to national standards and have the skills that employers are looking for. Practical on-the-job training is complemented by functional skills study.


HNCs (Higher National Certificates) and HNDs (Higher National Diplomas) are work-related (vocational) higher education qualifications. While bachelors degrees tend to focus on gaining knowledge, HNCs and HNDs are designed to give you the skills to put that knowledge to effective use in a particular job.

They are highly valued by employers both in the UK and overseas, and can also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships

These study programmes allow you to combine training and work so you earn a salary and study towards a nationally recognised qualification at the same time. You will work towards an NVQ Level 2 or Level 3 and study on either day release or block release depending on the requirements of your employer.

Foundation Degrees

These higher education courses offer a combination of technical skills, academic knowledge and transferable skills that are highly valued by employers. A full-time Foundation Degree is usually completed in two years; you can then continue to study for professional qualifications, or ‘top up' your study at university to convert your qualification into an Honours Degree.

Because you study at your local College rather than attending university, Foundation Degrees can often cost less than the equivalent two years of a university degree, and you are still eligible for the financial help and assistance enjoyed by university students.

GCSE Maths and English

Widely recognised by employers and education providers, GCSEs in Maths and English are commonly required for many job roles and progression opportunities. You can re-sit your GCSE Maths and/or English alongside your chosen full-time course if this is appropriate to your future plans.

Students aged over 19 may wish to consider Skills for Life numeracy and literacy qualifications at Level 2.

If you are aged 19-24 and have grade D, you can study GCSE Maths and English for FREE.

Functional Skills

English, Maths and ICT are embedded into all of our full-time courses for students aged 16-19. This enables you to develop the skills that you'll need to express yourself clearly in your written, spoken and project work. It also helps ensure that you will be prepared for the demands of higher level study and employment.

Specialist Qualifications

Many of our courses include extra, specialist qualifications in addition to your core subject. These are designed to supplement your learning experience and help develop a greater understanding of the subject area. Additional qualifications can also help your CV stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for jobs and university places.

Equivalent Qualifications

We're often asked what different qualification levels mean and what they are equivalent to.

The table below should help explain how the different levels of qualification work and their GCSE equivalent.

Qualification  Grade  Equivalent to 
BTEC First Certificate  Pass 1 GCSE Grade C 
BTEC First Certificate Merit 1 GCSE Grade B
BTEC First Certificate Distinction 1 GCSE Grade A
BTEC First Extended Certificate Pass 2 GCSEs Grade C
BTEC First Extended Certificate Merit 2 GCSEs Grade B
BTEC First Extended Certificate Distinction 2 GCSEs Grade A
BTEC First Diploma Pass 4 GCSEs Grade C
BTEC First Diploma Merit  4 GCSEs Grade B
BTEC First Diploma Distinction 4 GCSEs Grade A
BTEC National Certificate Pass 0.5 A Level Grade E
BTEC National Certificate Merit 0.5 A Level Grade C
BTEC National Certificate Distinction 0.5 A Level Grade A
BTEC National Subsidiary Diploma Pass 1 A Level Grade E
BTEC National Subsidiary Diploma Merit 1 A Level Grade C
BTEC National Subsidiary Diploma Distinction 1 A Level Grade A
BTEC National Diploma Pass 2 A Levels Grade E
BTEC National Diploma Merit 2 A Levels Grade C
BTEC National Diploma Distinction 2 A Levels Grade A
BTEC National Extended Diploma Pass 3 A Levels Grade E
BTEC National Extended Diploma Merit 3 A Levels Grade C
BTEC National Extended Diploma Distinction 3 A Levels Grade A
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