Foundation Degrees

Foundation degree courses at the College are designed and delivered in partnership with universities and employers. Studying for a foundation degree usually takes 2 years full time or 3 years part time. They are a level 5 vocational qualification and provide the knowledge and skills required for the workplace, this mode of learning combines a mixture of academic study and vocational study related to the industry sector you are studying. After completing a foundation degree you will be able to progress into employment or onto the final year of a full time honours degree.

Higher National Diploma

The Higher National Diploma also known as the HND is a level 5 vocational qualification awarded either by a university or by Pearson (Edexcel). Studying for a HND usually takes 2 years full time or 3 years part time. HNDs provide both theoretical and practical knowledge in your chosen sector. Completion of the HND can lead directly to employment or help you progress onto the final year of a full time honours degree.

Higher National Certificate

The Higher National Certificate also known as the HNC is a level 4 vocational qualification similar to the HND in that it provides both theoretical and practical knowledge in a certain subject, but it may be a better option for part time study. Studying for a HNC usually takes 1 year full time or 1-1.5 years part time Once completed you can continue to study and top up to a Higher National Diploma at the College or honours degree at university.

Honours Degrees

An honours degree is awarded by a university. These qualifications are at level 6 on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ). Studying for a honours degree usually takes 3 years full time or 4.5- 5 years part time A single honours degree focuses on one main subject and combined honours will focus on two main subjects, for example a combined honours in Business and French or Drama and English.

Top-Up qualifications

The term top-up applies to studying for qualifications in separate steps. You can study for a HNC qualification and then top-up to a HND qualification followed by topping up to an honours degree. At each stage you will be awarded a qualification which will help you move into employment or study further. By studying this way you can even take a break between qualifications before continuing.

Higher Professional Certificates and Diplomas

As well as HNC and HND you can also study a number of professional certificates and diplomas in a range of subjects that will give you a professional industry focused qualification at level four and above.


Typical higher education qualifications

within each level

FHEQ level
Doctoral degrees (eg, PhD/DPhil (including new-route PhD), EdD, DBA, DClinPsy)14 8
  • Master's degrees (eg, MPhil, MLitt, MRes, MA, MSc)
  • Integrated master's degrees qualifications (eg, MEng, MChem, MPhys, MPharm)
  • Postgraduate diplomas Postgraduate
  • Certificate in Education (PGCE)16
  • Postgraduate certificates
  • Bachelor's degrees with honours (eg BA/BSc Hons)
  • Bachelor's degrees
  • Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • Graduate diplomas
  • Graduate certificates
  • Foundation Degrees (eg, FdA, FdSc)
  • Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • Higher National Diplomas (HND)
  • Higher National Certificates (HNC)
  • Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE)

Further information can be found at: