Levels Explained

Don’t get confused by the numbers! We’ll help you understand what different qualification levels mean!

All UK qualifications are assigned to a specific level on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), based on the standards of knowledge and skill you learn when you complete them. They start at ‘entry-level’ and are then numbered from 1 to 8.

Because there are a number of different course types and qualifications, levels simply help to group them together so that you can make comparisons more easily and see where to go next on your journey. You might find employers ask you to have a certain level of qualification in order to apply for jobs too.

Our handy table below will help you compare different qualifications and levels to understand the right choice for you. Read more about each course and find out which is best for you.


Levels Qualifications
Entry Level

Entry level courses to develop skill and increase confidence

Level 1

GCSE grade D-G, Level 1 certificates

Level 2

GCSE grade A*-C, Level 2 NVQs, Level 2 diplomas

Level 3

A-Levels, Level 3 NVQs, Level 3 certificates

Level 4

HNCs, Level 4 diplomas

Level 5

Foundation degrees, HNDs, Level 5 diplomas

Level 6

Bachelor’s degrees (e.g. BA or BSc)

Level 7

Masters degree, postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas

Level 8

Specialist qualifications such as PhDs