Qualification Framework

In the UK, qualifications are written to a specific level, indicating the level of study involved. These levels are indicated by a number between 1 and 8. However, the specific levels differ between country to country, so you can use this table to compare levels and qualifications.




England, Wales
& Northern Ireland









Level 1Level 1Level 4Level 3

  • Level 1 Award


  • NVQ Level 1
  • Level 1 Certificate
  • GCSE’s at grade D-G
  • SVQ 1
  • Intermediate 1
  • General Standard Grade
  • Level 3 Certificate
  • Junior Certificate
Level 2Level 2Level 5Level 4

  •  Level 2 Certificate


  • NVQ Level 2
  • Level 1 Certificate
  • GCSE’s at grade A-C
  • SVQ 2
  • Intermediate 2
  • Credit Standard Grade
  • Level 4 Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate
Level 3Level 3Level 6Level 5
  • Level 3 Diploma
  • A Level
  • NVQ Level 3
  • A Level
  • Higher – SVQ 3
  • Level 5 Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate
Level 4Level 4Level 7Level 6

  • Level 4 Diploma
  • BTEC (HNC)


  • NVQ Level 4
  • Advanced Higher
  • Higher National Certificate
  • Certificate of Higher Education
  • Advanced Certificate
  • Higher Certificate
Level 5Level 5Level 8 & 9Level 7
  • Level 5 Diploma
  • BTEC (HND)
  • NVQ Level 5
  • Bachelors Degree
  • Diploma of Higher Education
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • SVQ 4
  • Ordinary Degree
  • Graduate Diploma
  • Ordinary Batchelors Degree

What is APL? (Accreditation of Prior Learning)
APL is the formal recognition for credit of prior learning gained, either through formally assessed courses or through other experience, typically gained in the workplace (Accreditation of Experiential Learning – APEL)


Other types of APL:
APCL (Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning) is learning for which certification has been awarded by an educational institution/training provider.

APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning) refers to un-certificated learning gained from experience. The experience itself cannot be accredited but it is possible to give credit for appropriate reflection on the experience.


You can use APL for:

  • – direct entry into a particular level of a programme, or
  • – the award of credit against specified modules within a programme, which do not necessarily amount to the equivalent of a whole level of study.


When to apply for APL
Claims for APL must normally be made before you commence study on the programme into which you are seeking to transfer prior learning. In some cases it may be possible to apply for APL when you are already on course but this is up to the discretion of the Learning Institute.