OCR Tech levels 2016 and 2017

  • England
  • Wales (Principal Learning in Engineering Wales is the approved qualification for students who study in Wales)
  • Northern Ireland

These qualifications are listed on the 16 – 19 performance tables in the Tech level category.

Tech level qualifications are primarily developed for learners aged 16 – 19 studying on either a full or part-time basis.

Tech levels are aimed at learners with a keen interest in in a particular industry, occupation or occupational type.

Along with developing transferable skills required to work within a number of job roles, these qualifications are designed to equip learners with the high level specialist technical knowledge and skills to enable them to work within a specific industry.

They can help provide entry into employment within a particular sector, onto an apprenticeship or into higher education in a related vocational area.

Tech levels require the support of trade or professional bodies or at least five employers.

Education context

Following the Wolf review of vocational qualifications in England in 2011, the Department for Education announced a number of characteristics that Level 3 Tech level qualifications have to demonstrate in order to feature in performance tables for 2016.

As a result, over 90% of the Level 3 qualifications previously recognised in performance tables will not be recognised in 2016 and beyond; these qualifications will have been delivered during the academic years 2014 – 16.

The new characteristics for Tech levels included in 2016 performance measures define purpose, size and recognition as the interim standard.

Qualifications to be included in the performance tables from 2018 will have to meet further requirements in respect of content, assessment, and grading.

Qualifications can be included in the 2017 performance tables according to the 2016 (interim) or 2018 (full) requirements.

These additional requirements are not reflected in this suite of qualifications.

The OCR Diploma in Business Administration consists of units related to the national occupational standards developed by Skills CfA, the Sector Skills Council for business and administration.

Principal Learning in Engineering is based on the criteria set out for the specialised Diploma qualifications in engineering at Level 3 (November 2006) as developed by the employer-led Diploma Development Partnership (DDP) in engineering.

OCR has other qualifications in the Tech level category, as well as the Applied General category, under the Cambridge Technicals brand.

UCAS will prepare separate QIP for qualifications for inclusion in the 2018 performance measures.

Awarding organisation
  • OCR
Qualification codes
500/6485/X (OCR Level 3 Diploma in Administration – Business Professional)
500/2400/0 (OCR Level 3 Principal Learning in Engineering)

The qualifications are unitised.

The Diploma in Administration is credit-based and comprises mandatory and optional units; the rules of combination specify the minimum credit to be achieved through mandatory and optional units.

Principal Learning in Engineering (Wales) comprises nine mandatory units; to achieve the qualification the learner must achieve all nine units.

Subject areas

Administration (Business Professional)


  • Level 3

UK Level 3 qualifications

A levels are Level 3 qualifications

Level 3 is equivalent to SCQF Level 6


The Level 3 Diploma in Administration is graded Pass, Fail

Level 3 Principal Learning is graded A* – E


The qualifications contain units which are internally assessed and externally moderated by OCR.

The qualifications also contain units assessed by OCR though external examination.

In the Diploma for Administration the optional text processing units are assessed by external examination.

In Principal Learning for Engineering, two of the nine mandatory units are assessed by external examination.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

For the Diploma in Administration, learners who achieve the minimum eligible credit value specified by the rules of combination for the qualification will achieve a pass for the qualification.

For Principal Learning in Engineering, learners must achieve all units to achieve the qualification; grades are calculated by adding learners’ points scores for each unit.

Resit arrangements

During the life of the qualifications learners may resit the examined and moderated units an unlimited number of times before entering for certification.

Guided / notional learning hours notes

Tech levels require a minimum size of 300 glh to provide learners with sufficient time for meaningful skills development that will equip them to follow a particular trade or profession.

Many Tech levels exceed the minimum size.

For comparison, the size of one A level is 360 glh

OCR Diploma in Administration – 333 glh

Principal Learning In Engineering – 540 glh

UCAS Tariff points

OCR Level 3 Diploma in Administration (Business Professional) (QCF)

Grade Points
P 32

OCR Level 3 Principal Learning in Engineering

Grade Points
A* 84
A 72
B 60
C 48
D 36
E 24
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship or to higher education.

Applicants holding the Principal Learning in Engineering qualification will have completed by 2017.

Until 2017, the Diploma in Administration qualifies for the Tech level performance measures. The qualification will remain available after that date but will not appear on the performance measures.

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

Where the qualification contains optional units, the exact curriculum studied depends on the choice of optional units taken.

Learners may combine OCR Tech levels with other qualifications such as AS or A levels. The other qualifications may be from OCR or another awarding organisation.

Timing of assessments and results

Learners may complete internally assessed units at any time.

For Principal Learning in Engineering there are two examination sessions per year in January and June.

For the Diploma in Administration there are three examination sessions in spring, summer and autumn.

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Principal Learning in Engineering will be withdrawn from examination in summer 2017.

Certification information

OCR issues certificates as follows:

  • Diploma in Administration certificates on achievement of the qualification
  • Principal Learning certificates twice a year, in January and June
Progression information

Learners achieving these qualifications may progress to:

  • employment at an appropriate level, or into a job requiring higher level training in an appropriate sector
  • other related occupational qualifications
  • to further education (FE) and undertake additional Level 3 qualifications or Level 4 qualifications
  • to an apprenticeship or higher apprenticeship
  • to undergraduate study at a UK higher education (HE) establishment, particularly,  although not limited to, the same subject area
Further information

Link to OCR website for Diploma in Administration http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/vocational-qualifications-qcf-administration-business-professional-level-3-diploma-03963/

Link to OCR website for Principal Learning in Engineering http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/principal-learning-engineering-level-3-from-2008-h811/

The Principal Learning in Engineering qualification will be replaced by OCR Cambridge Technicals in Engineering Level 3 Certificate/Extended Certificate/Foundation Diploma/Diploma (05822-05825)