Higher Education Qualifications Explained Degree Level Courses

Bath College offers a range of higher education qualifications, including Foundation Degrees, HNCs, HNDs and other specialist qualifications.


Each qualification belongs to a level under the Qualifications and Credit Framework. These levels indicate the difficulty of the qualification and range from Entry Level to Level 8. Higher education qualifications start at Level 4.


Qualifications Before Higher Education

Before starting your higher education course, you will usually have completed a Level 3 qualification, such as A Levels, the BTEC Extended Diploma, the NVQ 3 or the International Baccalaureate. To find out more about Level 3 qualifications, please see our Qualifications Explained page.


With a Level 3 qualification, you can progress on to higher education courses at Level 4, Level 5, or straight to Level 6.

Level 4 Qualifications

These include Higher National Certificates (HNC), NVQ 4 and Key Skills Level 4. These are often in vocational subjects leading to employment and can also lead to a Level 5 qualification. For example, after completing your HNC, you may wish to continue studying with an HND in the same subject.

Level 5 Qualifications

These include Foundation Degrees and Higher National Diplomas (HND). These are often in vocational subjects, leading to employment or progression to a Level 6 qualification. For example, after completing your Foundation Degree, you can progress onto the final year of an Honours Degree programme and “top up” your qualification.

Level 6 Qualifications

These include Honours Degrees (such as a BA, BSc or BEng) and BTEC Advanced Professional Diplomas/Certificates/Awards. A Level 6 qualification can lead to employment, or to postgraduate study.

Level 7 and 8 Qualifications

These include Postgraduate Certificates or Diplomas, Master’s Degrees, Doctorates, and other specialist qualifications.

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