Traditionally regarded as one of the most popular routes into university and employment, A Levels form the academic pathway for a wide range of subjects, including some that you may not have studied at school. Each A Level is worth UCAS points – the number you get for each course depends on the grade you achieve.
A Levels are studied over two years, with most students studying three A Levels.
You can also study two A Levels and an ‘A Level equivalent certificate’, which is a vocational course designed to give you a qualification equivalent to one A Level. If you know what you want to study at university, we recommend checking the entry requirements before you choose your A Level subjects.
A Levels Intensives allow you to complete a full A Level in a year; they are designed for people who have already completed a Level 3 qualification and wish to progress to university, but do not have enough UCAS points.
The majority of our students study a vocational course because they specialise in areas of learning linked with work that they are interested in. You can build your confidence because you are developing practical skills that could help you secure a job in the future. Answers to assignments may be in written form but it is just as likely they will be in other forms too, such as film clips, project proposals, business plans and structured databases.
Vocational courses are often referred to by the name of the exam board who award the qualification – for example, BTEC (which stands for Business and Technology Educational Council, who used to issue the award before Edexcel and Pearson, who currently issue them), City & Guilds or UAL (which stands for University of the Arts London).
We are continually developing our vocational courses in response to the needs and skills required by employers. This ensures that you gain maximum benefit from your work while qualifying and that the qualifications stay relevant. Vocational courses are specifically designed to help you get into the workplace, but they also give you UCAS points to be able to study at university.
They are available at a range of levels, depending on your current level of knowledge and experience:
– Entry Level
If you don’t have any qualifications, studying an Entry Level qualification is the best place to begin your journey.
Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll have practical skills for work and independent living, and a qualification, which can help you progress to the next level.
– Level 1
If you are new to a subject and would like to improve your basic knowledge, this is the best place to begin.
Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll have skills for work and daily life, work experience, personal development and an introduction to your subject, that will help you progress to a Level 2 course.
– Level 2
Many students go straight to a Level 2 course after achieved four GCSEs at grade 3 or higher; for many subjects, you can enter as a beginner at this stage.
Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll have many transferable skills such as problem-solving and study skills, enabling you to progress to a Level 3 course or an apprenticeship.
– Level 3
A Level 3 qualification is usually studied over 2 years and is the usual route to higher education, offering a vocational equivalent to A Levels. For most subjects, you will need five or more GCSEs at grade 4 or higher, including
Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll have many transferable skills, such as independent thinking, problem-solving and business knowledge, enabling you to progress to higher education or the workplace.
If you’re aged 19 or older and are looking to study at university, but don’t currently meet the entry requirements for your chosen course, studying an Access to Higher Education diploma will equip you with the study skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications you need.
Access to Higher Education diplomas have varying entry requirements, depending on the subject area, and are usually taken in one academic year. Most students who study an Access to HE diploma go on to succeed at university and beyond, with a large number pursuing new careers and seeing changes in their lives that they had never thought possible.
T Levels are new technical courses which will follow GCSEs and will be equivalent to 3 A Levels. These 2-year courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares you for work. They will offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement, providing the knowledge and experience needed to open the door into skilled employment, further study or a higher apprenticeship.
You will spend 80% of your time in the classroom and 20% on a 45-day placement with an employer to give you the knowledge and skills companies look for.
For more information on T Levels, please visit the T Levels section on gov.uk.
Higher National Certificates (HNC) are the equivalent of one year of a Bachelor’s degree, and are vocational, work-related courses at Level 4. They focus on a particular job or profession and are intended to increase your professional and technical skills, helping you to begin, or progress in, your chosen career.
Higher National Diplomas (HND) are the equivalent of two years of a Bachelor’s degree, and are vocational, work-related courses at Level 5. They focus on a particular job or profession and are intended to increase your professional and technical skills, helping you to begin, or progress in, your chosen career.
Foundation degrees are the equivalent of two years of a Bachelor’s degree, and are qualifications designed to combine academic study with workplace learning. They focus on a particular job or profession and are intended to increase your professional and technical skills, helping you to begin, or progress in, your chosen career.
The most common foundation degrees are Foundation Degree in Arts (FdA) and Foundation Degree in Science (FdSc). The title of the degree depends on the subject you choose and the qualification’s awarding body.
A foundation degree is a full qualification in its own right; however, you can also use them as entry to a Bachelor’s degree ‘top-up’ programme.
A degree, also known as a Bachelor’s degree, is probably the most well-known higher education qualification. Degrees are made up of different modules that combine to make the overall qualification, awarded as an ordinary or honours degree following the completion of a dissertation or research project.
The most common degrees are Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc). The title of the degree depends on the subject you choose and the qualification’s awarding body.
A ‘top-up’ degree enables you (with one more year’s study) to achieve a Bachelor’s degree, after completing a foundation degree or HND.