AQA Tech Levels (unreformed)

AQA Level 3 Technical Level (720 GLH)
Countries
  • England
  • Northern Ireland
Purpose

These qualifications are listed on the DfE 16-19 performance tables in the Tech Level category.

They do not meet the full requirements for reformed Tech Levels, which all qualifications will have to meet for inclusion in the 2018 performance tables.

Tech Level qualifications are primarily developed for learners aged 16-19 studying on either a full or part-time basis.

Tech Levels are aimed at learners with a keen interest in in a particular industry, occupation, or occupational type.

Along with developing transferable skills required to work in a number of job roles, these qualifications are designed to equip learners with the high level specialist technical knowledge and skills to enable them to work in a specific industry.

They can help provide entry into employment in a particular sector, onto an apprenticeship, or into higher education in a related vocational area.

They have to be recognised by a trade or professional body, or at least five employers, and there is a requirement for all students to undertake meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study.

These qualifications have been built in close collaboration with employers and professional bodies which ensure they will not only recognise them but will value them. 

You can view those employers and other stakeholders supporting these qualifications by going to: http://www.aqa.org.uk/qualifications and visiting the relevant Tech Level subject pages.

Education context

Following the Wolf review of vocational qualifications in England in 2011, the Department for Education announced a number of characteristics that Level 3 Tech Level qualifications have to demonstrate to feature in performance tables from 2016 onwards.

As a result, over 90% of the Level 3 qualifications previously recognised in performance tables are now not recognised.

The intention was to make reformed qualifications more rigorous and robust. As a result, they have to meet specific requirements in respect of purpose, size, recognition, content, assessment, and grading.

Between 2016 and 2018, awarding bodies have been permitted to phase in the reforms.

These qualifications do not meet the full requirements for reformed qualifications in respect of content, grading, and assessment.

Awarding organisation
  • AQA
Qualification codes
601/4538/9 (AQA Level 3 Technical Level Engineering : Mechatronic Engineering (VRQ) – 2017 performance tables only)
601/4537/7 (AQA Level 3 Technical Level Engineering : Design Engineering (VRQ) – 2017 performance tables only)
601/4541/9 (AQA Level 3 Technical Level IT: Networking (VRQ) – 2017 performance tables only)
601/4542/0 (AQA Level 3 Technical Level IT: User Support (VRQ) – 2017 performance tables only)
601/4543/2 (AQA Level 3 Technical Level IT: Programming (VRQ) – 2017 performance tables only)
601/4540/7 (AQA Level 3 Technical Level Business: Marketing (VRQ) – 2017 performance tables only)
Structure

The specifications are modular in structure. Learners have to pass each unit to achieve the qualification. AQA Tech Level qualifications are 720 GLH and consist of eight 90 GLH units.

50% of the Tech Level (i.e. two units) is externally assessed. External assessment is conducted through examination.

Tech Level qualifications consist wholly of mandatory units. There are no option choices.   

Professional body and employer endorsements for each of the qualifications can be found on the subject pages of the AQA website.

Subject areas
  • Marketing
  • Mechatronic engineering
  • Design engineering
  • Power engineering
  • User support
  • Networking
  • Programming
Levels
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

A levels are also Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework.

Level 3 is the same level as the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6.

Grading

720 GLH Tech Level - PP, MP, MM, DM, DD, D*D, D*D*

All units are graded – P, M, D

The grades for each unit attract points which are added together to identify the final overarching qualification grade.

Assessment

To ensure assessment is rigorous and robust, all AQA Tech Level qualifications meet the following assessment criteria:

  • There must be a minimum of 30% external assessment
  • There must be an element of synoptic assessment
  • There are new rules for internal assessment, with only one opportunity to submit each assessment
  • Quality assurance of internal assessment must be rigorous

For AQA Tech Levels, externally assessed units have timetabled two hour examinations in January and June of each year. Internally assessed units are assessed by the centre and externally quality assured by AQA on demand.

Centres are also given opportunities to develop internal assignments in a way that encourages both synoptic learning and assessment.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Minimum external assessment: 30% of Level 3 Tech Level

Internal assessment: 70% of Level 3 Tech Level

Resit arrangements

Learners are allowed to resit an examination on one occasion per qualification.

They are permitted to retake an internally assessed assignment once per qualification.

The retake must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

Guided / notional learning hours
720 hours
Guided / notional learning hours notes

Tech Levels require a minimum size of 300 GLH to provide learners with sufficient time for meaningful skills development that will equip them to follow a particular trade or profession, for comparison, the size of one A level is 360 GLH.

UCAS Tariff points

AQA Level 3 Technical Level (720 glh)

Grade Points
D*D* 112
D*D 104
DD 96
DM 80
MM 64
MP 48
PP 32
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech Levels are designed to support progression to employment, a higher or degree apprenticeship, or to higher education.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech Level and may be to a foundation degree or Higher National qualification.

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken, however, AQA Tech Level qualifications require a specified core of at least 40% .

Applicants holding AQA Tech Level qualifications will have had experience of external and synoptic assessment.

Students may combine this qualification with other qualifications such as A level, AS, or Applied Generals.

Timing of assessments and results

Externally assessed units have timetabled examinations in January and June of each year, and internally assessed units are assessed by the centre and externally quality assured by AQA on demand.

Results for the January session are published in March, and results for the June session are published in August. Overarching certification is available on demand.

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2015
Qualification dates notes

Replaced by AQA Tech Levels (reformed) in September 2016.

Certification information

The results of many UK qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

  • A levels and results from larger awarding bodies are reported automatically
  • IB results are only reported with the candidate’s permission
  • Some results are not reported through ABL, this does not reflect the validity of the qualification.

The results available through ABL can be found at: https://www.ucas.com/providers/undergraduate/undergraduate-application-process/awarding-body-linkage-abl#documents.

Where results are not available through ABL, HEPs will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

AQA reports results using the ABL system. High-level qualification results data is published on the AQA website shortly after results day. AQA submits results data to a variety of third parties, i.e. the Department for Education, Ofqual, and the Welsh Government.

Progression information

These qualifications offer progression to higher education, a higher/degree apprenticeship, or employment.

Progression to HE will probably be in the vocational area of the qualification, and may be to a foundation degree or a Higher National qualification (HNC/HND).

Additional qualifications may be needed for progression to higher education, such as A levels, the EPQ, an AS, and English and/or maths GCSE.

Tech Level qualifications are supported by at least five employers from the job sector the qualification is related to.

All students have to take part in meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study. Examples are work placements, taking part in projects, or some of the course being taught by someone who works in the industry.

Professional body and employer endorsements for each of the qualifications can be found on the subject pages of the AQA website.

Further information

Link to DfE Technical Level Guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/16-to-19-vocational-qualifications-technical-guidance

Link to AQA specifications on website: http://www.aqa.org.uk/tech-levels

Link to the AQA TVQ Admin page and Centre Handbook: http://www.aqa.org.uk/resources/tvq/assess/tvq-administration