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What is a course level and how do you choose the correct level for you?

At HRC, we understand that there are many different course options available to you, so we want to help make it simple! Whether you’ve just left school, taken a break from learning and now want to gain qualifications for the world of work, or are looking to progress on to a foundation degree or head off to university, HRC can help you find the right course and level for you.

At HRC, we offer courses of all levels, for all abilities. Levels range from 1-5, but don’t worry, if you don’t have a Level 1 qualification we can still help. We also offer pre-entry and entry level courses, and on completion of these you can go on to study at Level 1.

If you’re unsure at any time about qualifications or would like further guidance, please call our Information Team on 01992 411411.



There are a range of different qualification types; this is the qualification you receive on completion of your course. These are set to a National Standard to ensure that different qualifications at the same level expect a similar standard of work. Many of you may already have GCSEs, so by gaining more qualifications, you open up a world of opportunities for your future career path!

Entry Level

One year course that will give you the chance of progressing to a higher level qualification on completion.

What do you need?
No formal qualifications are required for entry level courses. Entry level qualification:
Certificate of Achievement

Level 1

Courses are specifically designed to give you a detailed understanding of a particular subject and usually studied for one year. They are perfect for entering a specialist area without any previous experience and also give you the chance to develop your literacy and numeracy skills.

What do you need?
Mainly 3-1/D-G grades in your GCSEs or to have completed an Entry Level course.
Level 1 qualifications: BTEC Introductory Certificate, Award & Diploma, NVQ/VRQ 1

Level 2

Full-year courses designed to prepare you for an advanced level of study or employment.

What do you need?
At least four GCSEs at grade 3/D in English and maths (136 points) or to have completed a Level 1 course.
Level 2 qualifications: GCSEs, BTEC Certificate, Extended Certificate & Diploma, NVQ/VRQ 2.

Level 3

Advanced programmes of study that usually last for two years. They will help you prepare for progression to higher education at university or employment at a professional level.

What do you need?
At least five GCSEs at grade 4/C or above or a level 4 in English and maths (200 points) or have completed a Level 2 qualification.
Level 3 qualifications: BTEC Certificate/Subsidiary Diploma/Diploma/Extended Diploma, NVQ/VRQ 3, Access to Higher Education Courses, A Levels.

Level 4 & 5

Progression to Higher Education at HRC or university.

What do you need?
A full Level 3 qualification. Foundation Degrees require 120 UCAS points and Extended Degrees require 120 UCAS points.
Level 4 & 5 qualifications: Foundation Degree, NVQ 4/5.


GCSE Points

For the courses that require GCSE Points, we can offer you a conditional place based on your predicted grades if you haven’t yet taken your exams. This means that your offer will stand providing you achieve the minimum entry requirements of your chosen course. Rest assured, we can still help if you don’t quite achieve the grades you were hoping for by accommodating you on a course that might be better suited to you.

The table below details a breakdown of GCSE Points. If you’re still unsure or would like further guidance, please call our Information Team on 01992 411411.

GCSE Grade Full Award Points Double Award Points Short Course Points
Grade 9-8 / A* 58 116 29
Grade 7 / A 52 104 26
Grade 6-5 / B 46 92 23
Grade 4 / C 40 80 20
Grade 3 / D 34 68 17
Grade 2 / E-F 28 56 14
Grade 1 / F-G 22 44 11
Grade 1 / G 16 32 8

What if I don’t have GCSE qualifications but have previous work experience or other qualifications?

You can still apply if you are a mature student and have work experience in the area you wish to study or other qualifications – these may gain you additional credit and will be considered in your application to our courses.

You can also receive GCSE Points for certain Level 1 and Level 2 Courses.
Please see the table below for a further breakdown.

Level 1 Course Grade GCSE Points
BTEC Introductory Certificate Pass 38
  Merit 56
  Distinction 58
BTEC Introductory Diploma Pass 76
  Merit 112
  Distinction 136
Key/Functional Skills Communication 18
  Application of Number 18
  Information Technology 18
Level 2 Course Grade GCSE Points
BTEC First Certificate Pass 80
  Merit 92
  Distinction 104
BTEC First Diploma Pass 160
  Merit 184
  Distinction 208
Key/Functional Skills Communication 34.5
  Application of Number 34.5
  Information Technology 34.5

UCAS Points for Level 3 Courses

If you’re looking to go to university or study at a higher level at college, you’ll be pleased to know it isn’t just A-Levels that can provide you with UCAS Points. There are a number of level 3 qualifications that can contribute towards getting you the UCAS points you require.

The table below displays how many UCAS points a particular BTEC Level 3 course and the grades achieved can provide you.

BTEC Certificate Grades BTEC Subsidiary Diploma Grades BTEC Diploma Grades BTEC Extended Diploma Grades A-Level Grades UCAS Tariff Points
      3 Distinction*   420
      2 Distinction*
1 Distinction
      1 Distinction*
2 Distinction
      3 Distinction   360
      2 Distinction
1 Merit
    Distinction*/Distinction* 1 Distinction
2 Merit
    Distinction*/Distinction     260
    Distinction/Distinction 3 Merit   240
    Distinction/Merit 2 Merit
1 Pass
    Merit/Merit 1 Merit
2 Pass
  Distinction*     A* 140
  Distinction Merit/Pass 3 Pass A 120
        B 100
  Merit Pass/Pass   C 80
Distinction*         70
Distinction       D 60
Merit Pass     E 40
Pass         20
Pass         20

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