Types of Level 4 Qualification

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A quick guide to the many types of level 4 qualifications available online from UK training providers.

What is a Level 4 qualification?

Level 4 qualifications are equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree and are considered advanced learning. They are typically taken after college A-levels, an Access to Higher Education programme or similar Level 3 courses. This guide will focus on the main types of Level 4 courses available. We will highlight the awarding bodies and the accreditation checks you should do before making an application.

Main Level 4 Qualifications in the UK

  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Level 4 Award
  • Level 4 Certificate
  • Level 4 Diploma
  • Level 4 NVQ
  • Higher Apprenticeship
  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Certificate Of Higher Education (CertHE)

 

What Can You Do With a Level 4 Qualification?

Level 4 certificates demonstrate higher learning and can be used for career progression, enhancing your CV and for admissions to level 5 courses, such as an HND. For many students taking a course at this level is their first step toward gaining a bachelor’s degree.

Where are Level 4 Certificates in the Qualifications Framework?

When searching for a course, it is important to understand the credit and qualifications framework.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Level 4 qualifications are the first stage of university-level learning. They range from vocational NVQs to entirely academic courses such as a Certificate of Higher Education.

There are nine qualification levels in England, Walse and Northern Ireland. Entry-level qualifications start in secondary school with GCSEs at level 1 and progress to level 8 with a doctorate. Level 0 is counted as a level for courses covering basic life skills.

The table below shows where Level 4 sits in the qualifications framework.

Level 4 in green on the UK qualifications framework

What Do Credits at Level 4 Mean?

Firstly, credits are a way to quantify the hours of learning involved in a course. One credit roughly equates to 10 hours of study. One year of full-time education equals 120 credits.

All recognised level 4 courses will have a credit value. Level 4 qualifications range from Certificates that can last a few weeks and comprise as few as 1 or 2 credits to a Diploma with 120 credits.

Credits are important if you want to progress to an HND or similar level 5 qualification. Standard entry requirements for a level 5 course would be 120 credits at level 4. Earning enough credits at levels 4 & 5 is important if your goal is to progress to a full Bachelor’s degree via a Top-up degree pathway.

Check the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)

After the level and credits, the next thing to check is that the course you are interested in joining is listed on the Regulated Qualifications Framework. If you are looking to progress to a higher level qualification, it’s vital to take a course recorded on the RQF for a couple of reasons.

  1. The course can be used to access further education opportunities at level 5 and above.
  2. The qualification has been reviewed, the learning outcomes pass quality benchmarks, and the final qualification and transcript are credit-bearing.

 

The RQF register is open access (opens the link in a new window )and easy to search. It shows courses that are currently being delivered as well as old courses that have stopped being taught.

Who are the Awarding Bodies for Level 4 Certificates?

All recognised qualifications are awarded by an accredited education provider, such as a university or private training centre. When granted by a private education provider, the certificate will be from the awarding body, which may differ from the actual college or school that delivered the course and teaching. For example, the Level 4 Health and Social Care Diploma taught by the Online Business School is awarded by QUALIFI. The final qualification will be from Qaulifi with their logo and details. If you check the RQF you will see the award is registered under Qualifi.

Qualifi Level 4 diploma example

Top tip- always check that the course you are about to enrol on is on the RQF.

Entry Requirements for Level 4 Courses

Students typically need A-levels or a recognised access course to gain a place on a level 4 course at a University. However, entry-level qualifications, such as GCSEs and relevant work experience at the right level, would generally be acceptable for vocational courses like an NVQ. For Short level 4 courses, you may be able to gain admissions just from work experience or workplace training.

Level 4 Higher Education Qualifications

These are the main level 4 certificates available from UK education providers. For each course type, we show the current training provider registered on the RQF who can award them.

Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)

The Certificate of Higher Education is the equivalent of the first year of a university degree. The course is 120 credits at level 4. A CertHE can be a great way to find out if university learning is right for you without committing to a full degree programme. This is because these courses are 100% academic with lectures, individual reading and essay assignments.

CertHE Awarding Bodies

UK Universities

Higher National Certificate (HNC)

Higher National Certificates are higher education qualifications that focus on the skills and knowledge required by the industry. They can be taken as stand-alone certificates or as a stepping stone to Higher National Diplomas. These courses are vocational. Students build a portfolio of work as they progress. HNCs are taught by a wide range of colleges, universities and private education providers.

HNC Awarding bodies- 1

Pearson

Level 4 Award

A level 4 award is a short course, usually under 20 credits. These are bite-sized, flexible ways to gain specific knowledge and skills. They are offered by a wide range of education providers and universities. As the courses are credit-bearing, they can be combined with other credit-bearing courses to use for admissions to more advanced university courses.

1st4sport Qualifications
Active IQ
AIM Qualifications
Ascentis
ATHE Ltd
Awarding Body for the Built Environment
BCS The Chartered Institute for IT
BHS Qualifications
BIIAB
British Wheel of Yoga Qualifications
Chartered Institute of Marketing
Chartered Management Institute
City and Guilds of London Institute
CIWM
Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology
Crossfields Institute
Defence Awarding Organisation
English Speaking Board (International) Ltd
ETC Awards Limited
Excellence Achievement & Learning Limited
FDQ Limited
Focus Awards Limited
Future (Awards and Qualifications) Ltd
Gatehouse Awards Ltd
Gateway Qualifications Limited
GQA Qualifications Limited
Highfield Qualifications
iCan Qualifications Limited
Innovate Awarding
Institute of British Sign Language
Institute of Sales Management
Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management
iPET Network Limited
ITC First
Kaplan Professional Awards
Lantra Awards
Laser Learning Awards
Logic Certification Limited
MP Awards
NCFE
NOCN
Occupational Awards Limited
OCR
Open Awards
Open College Network London Region
Open College Network Northern Ireland
Open College Network West Midlands
OTHM Qualifications
Pearson Education Ltd
Prince’s Trust
ProQual Awarding Body
Qualifi Ltd
Qualifications Network
Qualsafe Awards
Royal Society for Public Health
SafeCert Awards
Safety Training Awards
Scottish Qualifications Authority trading as SQA
SFEDI Enterprises Ltd. T/A SFEDI Awards
SFJ Awards
Skills and Education Group Awards
Skillsfirst Awards Ltd
The Institute of the Motor Industry
Training Qualifications UK Ltd
VTCT
YMCA Awards

Level 4 Certificate

A level 4 certificate is longer than an award but shorter than a diploma. These courses can be up to 70 credits. They can be combined with other credit-bearing certificates at level 4 to make up the 120 credits required by university admissions teams.

 

1st4sport Qualifications
Accounting Technicians Ireland
Active IQ
AIM Qualifications
Ascentis
Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
ATHE Ltd
Awarding Body for the Built Environment
BCS The Chartered Institute for IT
BHS Qualifications
BIIAB
British Ballet Organisation
British Wheel of Yoga Qualifications
CABWI Awarding Body
CFA Society of UK
Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment
Chartered Institute of Building
Chartered Institute of Housing
Chartered Institute of Marketing
Chartered Insurance Institute
Chartered Management Institute
City and Guilds of London Institute
CIWM
Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology
Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality
Crossfields Institute
Defence Awarding Organisation
ETC Awards Limited
Excellence Achievement & Learning Limited
FDQ Limited
FireQual
Focus Awards Limited
Future (Awards and Qualifications) Ltd
Gatehouse Awards Ltd
Gateway Qualifications Limited
GQA Qualifications Limited
Graded Qualifications Alliance
Highfield Qualifications
iCan Qualifications Limited
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
Innovate Awarding
Institute of British Sign Language
Institute of Sales Management
Institute of Sales Professionals
Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management
International Association of Bookkeepers
International Dance Teachers Association
ITC First
Laser Learning Awards
Logic Certification Limited
MP Awards
N.I. Security Qualifications Ltd
National Association of Teachers of Dancing
NCFE
NOCN
OCR
Open Awards
Open College Network London Region
Open College Network Northern Ireland
Open College Network West Midlands
OTHM Qualifications
Pearson Education Ltd
Prince’s Trust
Propertymark Qualifications
ProQual Awarding Body
Qualifi Ltd
Qualifications Network
Qualsafe Awards
Royal Academy of Dance
Royal Society for Public Health
RSL Awards Ltd
SafeCert Awards
Scottish Qualifications Authority trading as SQA
SFJ Awards
Signature
Skills and Education Group Awards
Skillsfirst Awards Ltd
The Gemmological Association of Great Britain
The Institute of the Motor Industry
The Institution of Fire Engineers
The London Institute of Banking & Finance
The Pensions Management Institute
Training Qualifications UK Ltd
Transcend Awards
Trinity College London
VetSkill
VTCT
YMCA Awards

Level 4 Diploma

Level 4 diplomas are generally longer than certificate qualifications. Most diplomas’ have 120 credits, but you should always check if you plan to progress to a Level 5 course or equivalent university qualification.

 

1st4sport Qualifications
ABE
ABMA Education Ltd
Active IQ
AIM Qualifications
Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
Association of British Dispensing Opticians
ATHE Ltd
Awarding Body for the Built Environment
BCS The Chartered Institute for IT
BHS Qualifications
BIIAB
British Ballet Organisation
British Wheel of Yoga Qualifications
CABWI Awarding Body
Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment
Chartered Institute of Building
Chartered Institute of Credit Management
Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply
Chartered Insurance Institute
Chartered Management Institute
City and Guilds of London Institute
CIWM
Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology
Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality
Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body
Crossfields Institute
Defence Awarding Organisation
ETC Awards Limited
Excellence Achievement & Learning Limited
FDQ Limited
FireQual
Focus Awards Limited
Future (Awards and Qualifications) Ltd
Gatehouse Awards Ltd
Gateway Qualifications Limited
GQA Qualifications Limited
Graded Qualifications Alliance
Highfield Qualifications
iCan Qualifications Limited
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
Innovate Awarding
Institute of Animal Technology
Institute of Export & International Trade
Institute of Sales Management
Institute of Sales Professionals
Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management
International Dance Teachers Association
Kaplan Professional Awards
Laser Learning Awards
Learning Resource Network
MP Awards
Music Teachers’ Board
NALP
National Association of Teachers of Dancing
NCC Education Limited
NCFE
NCTJ Training
New Era Academy of Drama and Music (London) Ltd
NOCN
Occupational Awards Limited
OCR
Open College Network London Region
Open College Network Northern Ireland
Open College Network West Midlands
OTHM Qualifications
Pearson Education Ltd
Prince’s Trust
ProQual Awarding Body
Qualifi Ltd
Qualifications Network
Qualsafe Awards
Recruitment & Employment Confederation
Royal Academy of Dance
Royal Horticultural Society
Royal Society for Public Health
RSL Awards Ltd
Scottish Qualifications Authority trading as SQA
SFJ Awards
Skills and Education Group Awards
Skillsfirst Awards Ltd
The Institute of the Motor Industry
The Institution of Fire Engineers
The London Institute of Banking & Finance
The Pensions Management Institute
Training Qualifications UK Ltd
Transcend Awards
Trinity College London
University of the Arts London
University of West London
VTCT
YMCA Awards

Level 4 NVQ

Level 4 National Vocational Qualifications are work-based courses where students build up a portfolio of work around their jobs. These qualifications are 100% vocational and demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the profession and best practices. You can only take these courses if you are in current employment.

Active IQ
Awarding Body for the Built Environment
BIIAB
Chartered Management Institute
City and Guilds of London Institute
ETC Awards Limited
Excellence Achievement & Learning Limited
Focus Awards Limited
GQA Qualifications Limited
Highfield Qualifications
iCan Qualifications Limited
NCFE
NOCN
Open College Network West Midlands
Pearson Education Ltd
ProQual Awarding Body
Recruitment & Employment Confederation
Scottish Qualifications Authority trading as SQA
SFJ Awards
Skillsfirst Awards Ltd
Training Qualifications UK Ltd

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