LIBF Applied Generals (reformed)

Qualification codes
600/8537/X (Certificate in Financial Studies)
600/8551/4 (Diploma in Financial Studies)

The Department for Education describe Applied General qualifications as follows:

Applied General qualifications are rigorous, advanced (Level 3) qualifications that allow 16 to 19 year old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills. They are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning. Applied General qualifications allow entry to a range of higher education courses, either by meeting the entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at Level 3 such as A levels. Higher education institutions, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved applied general qualifications listed.

The Certificate in Financial Studies (CeFS) provides a comprehensive introduction to personal finance. This qualification develops the knowledge and skills required for young people to make informed financial decisions, by introducing them to the risks and challenges involved in personal finance and the tools for effective planning. Within this, it provides a solid basis for creating financial inclusion, by exploring social-economic trends and their relationship with an individual’s circumstances and attitudes.

The Diploma in Financial Studies (DipFS) provides an in-depth exploration of the key concepts of financial capability, and how they are applied to achieve longer-term financial sustainability. This qualification builds on the skills and knowledge acquired through successful completion of the Certificate in Financial Studies, and extends this to include areas such as financial sustainability within the wider financial services system, and the long-term impact of debt. Within the DipFS the student explores the political, economic, social, technological, ethical, and legal impacts of personal finance in the short, medium and longer terms.

Both qualifications are designed to prepare students for further study through the development of the core skills of critical analysis and evaluation, synthesis, verbal communication (through classroom discussion), and written communication.


Both the Certificate and the Diploma are graded A* – E.


As noted in Education Context, to be classified as an Applied General qualification, the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

  • A minimum of 40% external assessment
  • A minimum of 60% mandatory core content
  • An element of synoptic assessment
  • There is a single resit opportunity

Each unit of both qualifications is assessed through a combination of multiple choice questions (Part A) and a written paper (Part B).

The pass mark for Part A is 40% of the raw marks. The pass mark for Part B is set each session to reflect any small variations in question paper difficulty.

To pass a unit, the student must achieve the minimum pass mark for both Part A and Part B. The written paper for each unit synoptically assesses the students’ ability to integrate the skills, concepts and knowledge from the unit.

Unit 4 builds upon Unit 3 (DipFS), both of which build upon Unit 1 and Unit 2 (CeFS).

Further information

Applied General qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.

The popularity of Applied Generals has risen over recent years. The entry rate for applicants holding at least one BTEC (either alone or in combination with A levels) was 6.0 per cent in 2016, up from 5.8 per cent in 2015.

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

  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors and 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 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.
  • The fully-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 fully-reformed and interim-reformed 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.
  • 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.

View DfE's technical guidance

Diploma in Financial Studies (DipFS) | Financial Capability | LIBF

Certificate in Financial Studies (CeFS) | Financial Capability | LIBF

Teacher and Exam Officer information can be found on the London Institute of Banking & Finance website