NCFE Level 3 Higher Level Studies suite

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NCFE Level 3 Award in Higher Level Studies NCFE Level 3 Extended Award in Higher Level Studies

  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

These qualifications are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance measures

They have been developed in partnership with employers, universities and other subject experts to ensure that the content is current and relevant.

These qualifications are suitable for learners aged and above.

The qualifications are designed for learners who are considering studying at a higher level and would like to develop their higher level study skills.

They enable learners to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and identify areas for further development.

The qualifications are particularly relevant for those aged 16–18 who wish to make the most of their programmes of study by including key higher level study skills.

Education context

They are designed for use within 16 – 19 study programmes, which provide learners with a structured and challenging individualised learning programme that supports their development and progression in line with their future career plans.

Study programmes normally include substantial academic or applied and technical qualifications; non-qualification activity including work experience; and the study of English and maths where learners do not hold a GCSE graded A* – C in these subjects.

They are focused on progression to the next level of education, a traineeship or apprenticeship, or other employment.

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification codes
601/7789/5 (NCFE Level 3 Award in Higher Level Studies)
601/7788/3 (NCFE Level 3 Extended Award in Higher Level Studies)

The Award has one mandatory unit.

The Extended Award has two mandatory units.

Subject areas

Higher Level Studies – learning outcomes:

  • The learner will review their current study skillset.
  • The learner will explain the techniques required for higher level learning.
  • The learner will understand researching and referencing for higher level learning.
  • The learner will produce a written piece of work suitable for higher level learning.

Preparing for future studies – learning outcomes:

  • The learner will consider their future aspirations.
  • The learner will know how to progress during and after university.
  • The learner will know about university life.
  • Level 3

Pass, Fail


Internally assessed and externally moderated portfolio of evidence.

Learners are set assignments. These may be in the form of briefs, scenarios, problem-solving exercises and/or research investigations. They are contextualised using realistic scenarios. The assessment may require students to write a report, write a business proposal, deliver a presentation, or make conclusions based on extensive research into a practical investigation.

All assessment is criterion-referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit within a qualification has specified assessment guidance.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Assessment is based 100 per cent on the portfolio of assessment.

Resit arrangements

To achieve the NCFE Level 3 Award or the NCFE Level 3 Extended Award in Higher Level Studies, learners must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes of the units as detailed in the qualification specification.

Learners who are not successful can resubmit work within the registration period.

Guided/notional learning hours
The Award consists of 30 GLH: 30 hours
The Extended Award is 60 GLH: 60 hours
UCAS Tariff points

NCFE Level 3 Extended Award in Higher Level Studies

Grade Points
P 8

NCFE Level 3 Award in Higher Level Studies

Grade Points
P 8
Key issues for UK HE admissions

These are the only qualifications of their type and have been developed to ensure that learners with vocational qualifications are appropriately prepared for the rigour of academic study.

Several universities, as well as recent graduates, were involved in their development, to ensure their relevance and currency.

Level 3 criteria require learners to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills. This means that evidence provided for the portfolio will also demonstrate the development and use of higher level learning skills.

Learners may combine the Level 3 Award or Extended Award in Higher Level Studies with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications; they are a supplementary qualification to A levels and Level 3 vocational qualifications, for those learners wishing to progress to higher level learning.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Learners are assessed throughout their programme of learning and may submit their portfolio of evidence at any point.

Results are provided on a rolling basis.

Reporting and certification information

Certification of these qualifications is reported on the basis of the number of certificates achieved over a 12-month period.

Progression information

These qualifications are designed to help learners develop higher level study skills.

They support progression to higher study, an apprenticeship or employment.

Further information

The qualification specification for the Award can be found here:…

The qualification specification for the Extended Award can be found here:…