CTH Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery

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This QIP covers a vocational qualification which is not listed on the Department for Education (DfE) 16 – 19 performance tables for England.

This qualification is not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because it is not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.

  • England

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 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.

This qualification (QAN 603/1929/X ) is included in the Section 96 table of approved qualifications.

CTH has been a specialist awarding organisation since 1982, developing qualifications only for the culinary, hospitality, tourism, and travel sectors. Qualifications are developed in partnership with leading employers, organisations, and individuals to ensure their relevance. Some of CTH's culinary qualifications have been developed in partnership with Gordon Ramsay, and experts at leading CTH culinary centres, including the Tante Marie Academy and Leith's School of Food and Wine. CTH has recently established a partnership with the Institute of Hospitality, in which CTH has taken over their Ofqual regulated qualifications and activity. This partnership will further enhance the links between CTH and the hospitality industry, as well as provide ongoing professional development opportunities for CTH students as they join the workplace or pursue further education opportunities.

Education context

This qualification is designed for post-16 students and falls under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). 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.

This qualification has 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, and AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

Awarding organisation
  • Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality - CTH
Qualification code

This Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery qualification comprises seven mandatory units, and is sized at 235 guided learning hours within 300 hours of Total Qualification Time (TQT), the key indicator of a qualification size in the RQF.

The Extended Certificate qualification is made up of two types of units:

  • five practical culinary units requiring students to use different types of techniques and skills to produce a range of dishes in each culinary discipline to a professional standard. Each practical unit requires 42 guided learning hours (or five credits). Note that a qualified professional chef typically holds a larger Level 3 Diploma qualification.
  • two theoretical units covering the underpinning knowledge of food safety and hygiene, and also menu selection, planning, and costing. The menu planning unit requires students to develop menus for two events within a prescribed set of parameters, including restricted diets and budgets. The project requires research, planning, and decision-making skills as well as numeracy skills for the costing element of the qualification.
Subject areas
  • Hospitality: professional cookery
  • Hospitality
  • 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 Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction.

The qualification is also graded as Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction.


The Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery is assessed by a combination of exams and assignments:

  • Practical examinations for the culinary skills units, are internally assessed and verified, and externally moderated by a CTH culinary examiner. Candidates are required to produce complex dishes to a high standard. The assessment menus are internally set, but approved by CTH in advance to ensure coverage of learning outcomes and assessment criteria. Each unit can be examined individually, or more usually combined with further units in a single assessment activity. Photographic and video evidence of student work at key stages of each process and completed dishes is required for all CTH culinary qualifications. CTH examiners also attend a representative number of examinations, and assess internal assessor’s mark schemes for consistency of application of marks.
  • The menu planning and costing unit is assessed by an externally set and moderated project assignment.
  • The food safety and hygiene unit is assessed by an externally set and marked examination.
Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

All units must be passed to achieve the qualification. A single exam may cover more than one of the practical units, but each unit is assessed against the associated learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Unit grades are allocated according to the grading criteria specified for each unit.

CTH assign a Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction grade for each unit.

Resit arrangements

Most current students for this qualifications are at schools, where the programme is run typically over an academic year plus an additional term.

The practical exams and resit exams are set by the centre, and must be submitted for approval to the CTH examiner in advance. The assessments for the two theoretical units are set by CTH.

The scheduling of assessments and resits is flexible, and may be determined by each CTH centre.  Most current centres expect that final assessments would take place in late spring, with resits late in the summer term. This schedule would fit in with the mock and actual A level exams also being taken by the students.

Moderation and grading activity is carried out after both initial and resit assessments by CTH examiners, in preparation for submission of results to one of the four CTH Exam Board meetings each year.

Guided/notional learning hours
235 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Ofqual introduced the Regulated Qualifications Framework in September 2015, which has now fully replaced the QCF. The RQF requires awarding organisations to take a consistent approach to determining the level, and describing the size, of regulated qualifications including a requirement for qualifications in the RQF be sized by the Total Qualification Time (TQT) needed to complete the qualification. Ofqual TQT Document.

Ofqual defines Total Qualification Time as the number of notional hours which represents an estimate of the total amount of time that could reasonably be expected to be required for a student to achieve and demonstrate the achievement of the level of attainment necessary for the award of a qualification. Total Qualification Time is comprised of the following two elements:

  • the number of hours which an awarding organisation has assigned to a qualification for guided learning
  • an estimate of the number of hours a student will reasonably be likely to spend in preparation, study, or any other form of participation in education or training, including assessment, which takes place as directed by – but, unlike guided learning, not under the immediate guidance or supervision of – a lecturer, supervisor, tutor, or other appropriate provider of education or training

The TQT for this CTH Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery is 300 hours, out of which 235 hours are guided learning hours. The TQT value includes guided learning hours, but also independent learning, research, a range of activities necessary for the menu planning project assessment, time spent on preparing other assessments, and other learning activities.

UCAS Tariff points

CTH Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery

Grade Points
D 36
M 24
P 12


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 apprenticeship.
  • This qualification is 235 GLH, or 300 TQT. If presented for admission to HE, it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.
Timing of assessments/results for learners

After marking and moderation activties have been completed, results are presented to the CTH Exam Board, which meets four times each year to review and ratify results, these are then published initially in the form of transcript letters. 

After allowing a period for appeals, students will receive final award certificates about six weeks after the Exam Board meeting. It is expected that the time from final exam to receipt of certificate would be less than 12 weeks.

Qualification date
Starting from 12 Jun 2017
Qualification dates notes

The operational start date for this qualification was 1 September 2017, with no planned end date.

A review is envisaged after three full years to ensure the qualification is achieving its aims and objectives, but is highly unlikely to result in any significant changes to the size or structure of the qualification, as this has been designed in conjunction with the centres offering the qualification, which has replaced a non-regulated version offered over several years. The planned review early in the life of this CTH qualification is more an opportunity to adjust indicative content, or add any clarification necessary in the assessment process.

Reporting and certification information

The results of the CTH Level 3 Extended Diploma in Professional Cookery are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HEPs will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

View the results available through ABL.

Progression information

The students completing this Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery qualification have several progression options available to them:

  • The first is to use this qualification to supplement other academic qualifications to meet the necessary threshold requirements to gain admission to a university degree course in a wide range of subject areas.
  • The associated practical skills gained will also enable some students who may otherwise not be in a financially strong position, to support themselves financially by gaining paid work as junior or section chefs in the holiday periods, and of cours,e all will also benefit from having a valuable skill to use throughout their lives.
  • The qualification also provides students the opportunity to progress to further culinary vocational qualifications, for example, the full CTH Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery, or a more specialist CTH Level 3 Diploma in Patisserie and Confectionery. After a period of working in the industry, further progression is possible to the CTH Level 4 Culinary Arts qualification, which would also provide a pathway to complete a university degree in hospitality, or hotel or culinary management, usually in two further years.
  • The qualification is ideal preparation for joining the workplace on a new Chef de Partie apprenticeship programme (Level 3).
  • The knowledge and skills acquired by holders of this qualification would enable them to start their careers in the hospitality sector as junior or commis chefs, either after leaving school or at a later stage.
Further information

See the CTH website (www.cthawards.com) for further information about CTH.

The qualification specification for this CTH Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery can be downloaded from the website.