Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Level 3 Diploma in Law and Legal Skills Tech level (reformed)

Last updated
Last verified
The QIP covers all Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Tech level qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.
  • England
  • Wales

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

CILEx focuses on qualifications in the legal profession, being the sole provider of the Chartered Legal Executive qualification route. 

The CILEx Level 3 Diploma in Law and Legal Skills is primarily aimed at younger people who have already completed GCSEs, and who now want to move into a career in the legal sector.

    Education context

    Some vocational qualifications offered at Level 3 have been reformed as a result of changes to school performance tables. Vocational qualifications must meet the criteria set by the Department for Education (DfE) in order to count towards school performance tables. These reforms mean that 91% of the Level 3 qualifications that previously counted towards school performance tables were removed from performance tables in 2016.

    For accountability purposes, vocational qualifications are now be classified as:

    • Tech level qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to lead to a ‘recognised occupation’. Examples provided by the DfE include engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including the endorsement of five employers registered at Companies House.
    • Applied General qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to provide a broader vocational education. They ‘are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning.’ These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including endorsement by at least three universities and colleges.

    The reform to vocational qualifications is being conducted in two stages: an interim stage and full stage. Each of these stages introduced new criteria for vocational qualifications to meet in order to count towards school performance tables.

    The first teaching of the qualifications reformed on an interim basis was from 2014 and these counted towards school performance tables in 2016. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables, if the qualifications are approved for teaching by the Secretary of State under Section 96.

    Read Section 96.

    The characteristics that must be met by Tech level qualifications as detailed in the DfE criteria are as follows:


    Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

    Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

    A. Declared Purpose



    B. Size



    C. Recognition



    D. Synoptic Assessment



    E. External Assessment



    F. Grading



    G. Employer involvement (Technical Level Qualifications only)



    H. Progression



    I. Proven Track Record




    These changes include, but are not limited to:

    • Size: Tech level qualifications must require at least 300 guided learning hours (GLH). Applied General qualifications must require at least 150 GLH.
    • Appropriate content: A qualification specification must state the specific content that students must pass to achieve the qualification. Mandatory content and the associated contribution to the overall grade must make up at least:
      • 40% of a Tech level
      • 60% of an Applied General
    • Appropriate assessment: Tech levels must have at least 30% external assessment. Applied General must have 40% external assessment. Students will also be given one opportunity to resit.
    • Synoptic assessment.
    • Grading: All vocational qualifications must be graded using three grading points or more, such as Distinction/Merit/Pass.
    • Employer involvement: Tech levels must be recognised and endorsed by a trade/professional body or at least 5 employers registered with Companies House.

    Tech levels and Applied Generals, whilst both being vocational qualifications, differ in size and purpose. Tech levels are a minimum of 300 GLH, are aimed at students with an interest in a particular industry or occupation, and help provide entry into employment, onto an apprenticeship, or into higher education in a related vocational area. Applied Generals are smaller, are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning, include a higher proportion of external assessment and may help students enter to a range of higher education courses.

    HEPs should take care when reviewing vocational qualifications for entry, see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’.

    Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet these requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

    Regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications

    The regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications delivered in England is the responsibility of Ofqual.

    The regulatory approach undertaken for Tech level and Applied General qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Tech levels, as there are for GCSEs, AS and A levels currently.  Tech level is a category introduced by the Department for Education for accountability purposes rather than a specific type of regulated qualification.  To be included in the Tech level category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features outlined in the table above.

    Tech levels must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

    The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives is the professional association which represents more than 20,000 trainee and practising chartered legal executives. For more than 50 years, it has offered access to a flexible career in law. It works closely with Government and the Ministry of Justice, and is recognised in England and Wales as one of the three core approved regulators of the legal profession alongside barristers and solicitors.

    Awarding organisation
    • CILEx
    Qualification code
    601/7248/4 (CILEx Level 3 Diploma in Law and Legal Skills)

    This qualification is made up of six mandatory units. 

    • Unit 1 – Introduction to Law and the Legal System in England and Wales.
    • Unit 2 – Practical Legal Skills
    • Unit 3 – Law of Contract  
    • Unit 4 – Tort Law
    • Unit 5 – Law of Crime
    • Unit 6 – Land and Property Law

    There are five formative assessments and one synoptic assessment.

    Subject areas

    Law and Legal Skills

    • Level 3

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

    Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.


    The qualification overall is graded Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction.

    Each unit is also graded Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction.

    The grade for the overall qualification is calculated by combining the collective grade for the formative assessments with the grade for the synoptic assessment.


    As noted in Education Context, to be classified as a Tech level the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

    • A minimum of 30% external assessment
    • A minimum of 40% mandatory core content
    • An element of synoptic assessment
    • There is a single resit opportunity

    The above is the minimum requirements set out by the Department for Education.

    All assessments are externally marked and moderated.

    • The multiple choice test is 60 minutes in duration
    • The formative assessments (for Units 3, 4, 5, and 6) are 90 minutes in duration
    • The synoptic assessment is ten hours in duration; but is taken over five days under supervision.

    All assessments are taken via e-assessment method.

    For more detailed unit and assessment information, please view the qualification specification on the CILEX website.

    Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

    Formative assessments 50%; synoptic assessment 50%.

    The units have the following overall qualification weighting individually:

    • Unit 1 – 10%
    • Unit 2 – 50%
    • Unit 3 – 10%
    • Unit 4 – 10%
    • Unit 5 – 10%
    • Unit 6 – 10%
    Resit arrangements

    Students are only allowed one resit opportunity per unit. The resit will be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

    If the learner fails a unit twice, they are withdrawn from the qualification.

    Guided/notional learning hours
    The Level 3 Diploma in Law and Legal Skills has a minimum size of 360 Guided Learning hours (60 Guided Learning Hours per Unit).: 360 hours
    Guided/notional learning hours notes

    Tech levels require a minimum size of 300 GLH to provide students 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

    CILEx Level 3 Diploma in Law and Legal Skills

    Grade Points
    D 48
    M 32
    P 16


    Key issues for UK HE admissions

    Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

    There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

    • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors and Applied General qualifications, and are likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date.
    • The reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer students passing the qualification. Equally, it is likely that grade distributions will change. In light of this, HEPs may wish to review their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies in relation to these qualifications.
    • The reformed and unreformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
    • The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
    • A larger mandatory core means that HEPs who require certain levels of achievement in particular units or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements should familiarise themselves with the new content specifications to ensure that these requirements are still valid. It should be noted that not all students will be able choose their optional units and these may be prescribed by the school or college, therefore HEPs should be cautious if requiring achievement in optional modules as part of their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies.

    Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech level, and may be to a foundation degree.

    Applicants holding reformed Tech level qualifications will have had experience of external and synoptic assessment.

    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.

    Timing of assessments/results for learners

    Assessments are taken within the week-long assessment windows (during November, March, and June). The exams are timetabled and cannot be taken on demand. The centre registers candidates at least one month before the assessment window (key dates and deadlines are provided to centres on accreditation). Only one exam is scheduled per day during the week of assessments.

    The synoptic assessment takes place during a separate week during June and November only. The synoptic assessment will not overlap with the formative assessments.

    Candidate results are issued on the date specified in the key dates and deadlines document (produced and issued every year). This is usually six-eight weeks after the assessment has been sat. Candidates only receive a certificate at the end of the qualification. These are usually issued in the September following the synoptic assessment (exact dates will be provided in the key dates and deadlines).

    Qualification date
    Starting from 01 Jun 2016 (Qualification review date: 30 September 2018)
    Qualification dates notes

    This qualification is current.

    Reporting and certification information

    The results of the CILEx Level 3 Diploma in Law and Legal Skills are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HE providers will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

    View the results available through ABL.

    CILEx submits information to SFA for funding purposes. CILEx also submits data to Ofqual and the Department for Education currently – headline information is sent to CCEA for Northern Ireland.

    Progression information

    Tech level qualifications differ in size; some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right in a related area and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications, for instance A levels. In addition, some higher education courses may require specific levels of achievement in particular units or ask for additional qualifications to satisfy subject knowledge requirements.

    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).

    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.

    This Level 3 Diploma can lead to different destinations:

    • Employment: the qualification will equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake technical legal work in different types of legal organisation, including high street firms, in-house legal departments, and alternative business structures (either as a legal assistant or junior paralegal).
    • Apprenticeship: The qualification aligns with the Trailblazer Apprenticeship for Chartered Legal Executives, and for solicitors. Students who wish to undertake an apprenticeship will have already accrued some of the important knowledge and skills that will enable them to progress in the legal sector as an apprentice.
    • Further learning: upon successful completion of the qualification, students will be able to apply for exemptions from the CILEx Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice, which forms the first stage in the process of becoming a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer.