Qualification Guide

Course Level

After completing your Level 2 GCSEs, the next step is to move on to a Level 3 qualification. However, this may not suit all students and for you to be happy and successful in your studies it is vital that you are on a programme that suits your ability. At Macclesfield College of Further and Higher Education you can take Entry, Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications to build up your skills and allow you to progress on to further study or employment in the future.

Level 4 (Higher)
  • Higher Nationals (HNC/HND)
  • Foundation Degree
  • Professional Qualifications
  • NVQ
  • Higher Apprenticeship
Level 3 (Advanced)
  • BTEC/UAL Extended Diploma
  • Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Foundation Studies in Art & Design
Level 2 (Intermediate)
  • BTEC/UAL Diploma
  • Apprenticeship
  • GCSE
Level 1 (Foundation)
  • BTEC Diploma
Entry Level
  • Entry Skills Courses

Course Type

It is important to choose a qualification that suits your work style.   

Vocational Qualifications
If you thrive on practical skills and work-related assignments then these qualifications are for you.

These work-related qualifications are recognised by employers and universities and provide practical, real-world learning along with a theoretical background to give students the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for their chosen career paths. With BTECs you choose one subject area to study. The Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma qualification is equivalent to three A Levels and carries UCAS points, allowing progression to Higher Education programmes at College or University. Art, Design, Graphics, Photography and Fashion students undertake the equivalent University of Arts London (UAL) qualifications.

Specialist Vocational Qualifications
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) give students the specific skills they need to work in particular industries, such as Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, Professional Cookery and Hospitality. These qualifications are studied in specialist, industry-standard learning environments. Automotive students undertake the equivalent Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) qualifications.

Progression Routes

After successfully completing each level of study you will gain nationally recognised qualifications and have the opportunity to progress onto the next level of qualification, further specialised training, or into employment. The skills you gain and progression routes for the specific qualifications are:

Entry Levels - These qualifications help you develop the skills and confidence to lead a more independent lifesyle, plus numeracy, literacy, ICT, social and personal skills.

Level 1

  • BTEC Diploma - On achievement is equivalent to 4 GCSEs at grade D or above
  • NVQ/IMI - These qualifications help you to develop occupational skills.

Level 2

  • BTEC/UAL Diploma - On achievement is equivalent to 4 GCSEs at grade A*-C
  • NVQ/IMI - These qualifications help you to develop occupational skills.

Level 3 - On successful achievement of the following qualifications you will gain the UCAS points necessary for progression to Level 4 qualifications such as Degree and Higher Education programmes at College or University, or will help your move into employment.  

  • BTEC/UAL Extended Diploma – On achievement is equivalent to 3 A Levels and worth up to 420 UCAS points (with Triple Distinction* grade)

Other Level 3 qualifications which develop occupational skills and can lead to further specialised training or employment include:

  • Foundation Studies in Art & Design - provides access to Art courses at University.

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements are a guide to which level of course will be the most appropriate for you and you will need to meet these before being accepted onto a particular programme or level of study. As a guide, the following minimum entry requirements apply:

Level Entry Requirements
Entry Levels Initial interview
Level 1 2 GCSE grades E-G †
Level 2 4 GCSE grade D or above †
Level 3 4 GCSE grades A*-C †
Level 3 - Foundation Studies in Art & Design Level 3 Art & Creative qualification and evidence of supporting portfolio
† or equivalent vocational qualifications at the appropriate grade

Entry requirements may vary depending on the course and can be seen under the courses section

Please note: Alongside your main programme of study you will also study either GCSE or Functional Skills in English and Maths if you have not achieved a GCSE grade C or above.  If you have achieved a grade C or above in GCSE English and Maths, you will engage in extending these skills through a Directed Study Programme.