City & Guilds vocational qualifications

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This QIP covers vocational qualifications which are not listed on the Department for Education (DfE) 16 – 19 performance tables for England

These qualifications are not listed on the 16 – 19 performance tables because they are not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.

  • England
  • Northern Ireland

Vocational qualifications are either work-related qualifications designed to enable students to gain the skills required to perform a particular job, or qualifications that may be taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.

Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the DfE performance tables, if approved for teaching to 16-19 year olds by the Secretary of State for Education in England under Section 96, where this is in the best interests of individual students.

City & Guilds is a leader in skills development, providing services to training providers, employers, and trainees across a variety of sectors to meet the needs of today’s workplace. City & Guilds qualifications and apprenticeships are valued by employers across the world, helping individuals develop their talents and abilities for career progression.

Education context

These qualifications are designed for post-16 students and fall under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (SFA). A significant number of students will undertake these qualifications post-19.

Following its 2012 review of post-19 qualifications the ESFA removed 1,800 qualifications from public funding and a further 1,000 in 2014. In March 2014 the government published a Reform Plan for Vocational Education.

These qualifications have not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old students), however the ESFA has implemented a new set of business rules for the approval of qualifications for funding, based on the 2013 Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications in England. These rules recognise that adults may have different needs, aspirations and ambitions to younger people and include that qualifications should be:

  • relevant to individuals and employers and affordable for all sizes of business and for individuals
  • rigorous and based on a robust future-looking occupational standard designed and assessed by the sector
  • recognised as worthy of investment, giving a clear signal of the economically valuable skills, knowledge and understanding required in an occupation now and in the future.

Regulation of vocational qualifications

The regulation of vocational qualifications is the responsibility of the respective regulators in each UK country – Ofqual (England), CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland) SQA (Scotland) and Qualifications Wales (Wales). The regulatory approach undertaken for vocational qualifications is different from A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification criteria for vocational qualifications, as there currently are for GCSEs, AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

Awarding organisation
  • City & Guilds
Qualification codes
601/0110/6 (City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration)
601/3608/X (City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Digital Marketing)

The qualifications are unitised, each unit has a credit value based on size. 

The structure varies according to the sector requirements and size.

Rules of combination determine the minimum credit value to achieve a pass.

Subject areas
  • Business administration
  • Digital marketing
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, though many may be offered on a three-country basis.

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


Units are graded as Pass/Fail.

Overall qualification grade is Pass/Fail.


Assessments of these qualifications are by a combination of:  

  • externally set assignments
  • internally assessed, externally verified portfolio of evidence
  • externally set and marked online exam
Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Qualification and units are awarded on a Pass/Fail basis. To achieve the qualification, students must meet minimum credit values according to rules of combination. Students achieve credit by passing unit assessments.

Resit arrangements

Students must complete assessments during their period of registration.

Assessment is available on a 'when ready' basis.

There are no limitations on the number of times a student can attempt the assessments.

Guided/notional learning hours notes

Maximum guided learning hours for these qualifications range from 282 to 785.

For comparison, an A level is 360 GLH. 

UCAS Tariff points

City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration

Grade Points
P 24

City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Digital Marketing

Grade Points
P 32


Key issues for UK HE admissions

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing vocational qualifications that are not listed on the DfE 16-19 performance tables for England:

  • Some of these qualifications are occupational, and may not be designed specifically for progression to HE.
  • Applicants holding these qualifications may be school or college leavers, however some may be more mature students who are likely to have other relevant experience alongside these qualifications.
  • These qualifications may have been taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
  • If they are presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.
Timing of assessments/results for learners

Assessment for these qualifications is available flexibly. Students may complete the qualification at any time during the year.

Qualification dates notes

These qualifications are already available. Please refer to City & Guilds' product pages for current registration and certification dates.

Reporting and certification information

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

View the results available through ABL.

Progression information

City & Guilds Level 3 Diplomas are designed to support progression to employment, higher/advanced apprenticeships, or higher education.

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

Additional qualifications, such as A levels, may be needed for progression into higher education. 

Further information

For more information, visit City & Guilds web page for specifications at: