The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland


The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is a national framework developed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England), Department for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DELLS) in Wales and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland.

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)

QCF level Examples of qualifications in each level*
Academic Vocational
Level 8 Doctorate

Specialist awards

Vocational qualifications level 8
Level 7 Masters degree

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas

NVQ level 5

Vocational qualifications level 7

Level 6 Honours degree

Graduate certificates and diplomas

Vocational qualifications level 6
Level 5 Diploma of higher education Foundation degrees

Higher national diplomas

Vocational qualifications level 5
Level 4 Certificate of higher education Vocational qualifications level 4
Level 3 A levels

IB Advanced diploma

Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate

NVQ level 3 BTEC level 3

National diploma/certificate level 3

Cambridge technical diploma/certificate level 3

Level 2 GCSE Grades 9-4 (Previously A*-C)

IB Middle

Intermediate Welsh Baccalaureate

NVQ level 2

BTEC level 2

National diploma/certificate level 2

Cambridge technical diploma/certificate level 2

Level 1 GCSEs Grades 5-1 (Previously D-G)

Foundation Welsh Baccalaureate

NVQ level 1

BTEC level 1

Introductory diploma

Entry level Entry level certificate ASDAN (e.g. ‘Employability’)

NVQ, National Vocational Qualification; IB, International Baccalaureate; BTEC, Business and Technician Education Council; GCSE, General Certificate of Secondary Education.

*The lowest qualification is entry level and the highest is level 8. Levels 4–8 are part of the framework of higher education.

+ASDAN is approved as an awarding organisation for qualifications within the National Qualifications Framework and the QCF, regulated by Ofqual in England, DELLS in Wales and CCEA in Northern Ireland. All approved ASDAN qualifications have points that are comparable to GCSEs.


The QCF helps you to navigate the numerous examination boards, helping you understand the level of their qualifications. This progressive framework is designed so that you can see where any qualification which you are involved in teaching fits in. Qualifications vary in content, delivery and assessment methods. Therefore, familiarise yourself with the course specification and fully understand what is to be delivered and how it is to be assessed.

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