Rockschool Limited Music Practitioners (QCF) Tech levels (interim-reformed)

Last updated
Last verified
The QIP covers all Rockschool Tech level (interim-reformed) qualifications that do not meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and do not contribute towards performance measures for 2018.

These qualifications meet the interim-reformed requirements for 2016 and 2017 performance tables.

This QIP also includes information on 600/6607/6 RSL Level 3 Certificate For Music Practitioners (QCF) and 600/6611/8 RSL Level 3 Extended Certificate For Music Practitioners (QCF). These two qualifications do not form part of the DfE performance tables, and are not interim-reformed.

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

Rockschool Limited (RSL's) qualifications for Music Practitioners are music industry qualifications that will equip students with the skills, knowledge and understanding for entry to employment in the music industry, or progression to further study at a higher level.  The qualifications aim to offer practical structured learning with the flexibility to specialise in different disciplines directly relevant to employment within the music industry, including composition, performance, business, and technology.

Education context

Some vocational qualifications offered at Level 3 have been reformed as a result of changes to school performance tables. Vocational qualifications must meet the criteria set by the Department for Education (DfE) in order to count towards school performance tables. These reforms mean that 91% of the Level 3 qualifications that previously counted towards school performance tables were removed from performance tables in 2016.

For accountability purposes, vocational qualifications are now be classified as:

  • Tech level qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to lead to a ‘recognised occupation’. Examples provided by the DfE include engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including the endorsement of five employers registered at Companies House.
  • Applied General qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to provide a broader vocational education. They ‘are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning.’ These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including endorsement by at least three universities and colleges.

The reform to vocational qualifications is being conducted in two stages: an interim stage and full stage. Each of these stages introduced new criteria for vocational qualifications to meet in order to count towards school performance tables.

The first teaching of the qualifications reformed on an interim basis was from 2014 and these counted towards school performance tables in 2016. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. The qualifications listed in this QIP are classified as Tech level qualifications however do not meet the full criteria to count towards performance tables from 2018 in respect of content, assessment and grading. Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables, if the qualifications are approved for teaching by the Secretary of State under Section 96.

Read Section 96.

The 2016/17 RSL Tech levels meet the interim requirements set by the DfE and therefore may be offered in schools and colleges alongside the 2018 fully reformed versions:


Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose



B. Size



C. Recognition



D. Synoptic Assessment



E. External Assessment



F. Grading



G. Employer involvement (Technical Level Qualifications only)



H. Progression



I. Proven Track Record




As noted in the table above, the 2016/17 and 2018 versions of Tech level qualifications are fundamentally different.

For more information on the specific changes to 2018 Tech levels, please refer to a reformed QIP. Please also see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’ for some additional considerations when assessing these qualifications.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet the 2018 requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

Regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications

The regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications delivered in England is the responsibility of Ofqual.

The regulatory approach undertaken for Tech level and Applied General qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Tech levels, as there are for GCSEs, AS and A levels currently.  Applied Generals is a category introduced by the Department for Education for accountability purposes rather than a specific type of regulated qualification.  To be included in the Tech level category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features outlined in the table above.

Tech levels must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

RSL was set up in 1991 as Rockschool Limited to offer qualifications in rock and pop music – an area not covered by the traditional music exam boards.

Beginning with offering graded examinations in a range of instruments, RSL entered the vocational qualifications market in 2005 with its Music Practitioners Qualifications, with the aim being to produce the most industry-relevant music qualifications available.

Since 2005 the qualifications have been regularly rewritten to ensure optimum industry relevance and take into account new trends in music technology and music business, in particular.

RSL has designed new Subsidiary Diploma and Extended Diploma qualifications which meet the full requirements for Tech levels, and appear on the DfE Performance Tables for 2018. These have different Qualification Accreditation Numbers.

Awarding organisation
  • RSL
Qualification codes
600/6607/6 (RSL Level 3 Certificate For Music Practitioners (QCF))
600/6611/8 (RSL Level 3 Extended Certificate For Music Practitioners (QCF))
600/6613/1 (RSL Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma For Music Practitioners (QCF))
600/6609/X (RSL Level 3 Diploma For Music Practitioners (QCF))
600/6612/X (RSL Level 3 Extended Diploma For Music Practitioners (QCF))

There are five different sizes of Music Practitioner qualification at Level 3:

  • Certificate (90 GLH)
  • Extended Certificate (210 GLH)
  • Subsidiary Diploma (540 GLH)
  • Diploma (720 GLH)
  • Extended Diploma (1080 GLH)

Each qualification can be undertaken in one of four pathways:

  • Performing
  • Composition
  • Technology
  • Business

The pathway defines the mandatory content within the qualification, with optional units making up the additional credits required to achieve the qualification.

All units within the qualification are at Level 3, and all units contributing to the required credit value of the qualifications must be passed.

Units can be completed throughout the academic year, with the final overall grade being calculated based on the grades awarded to each unit.

Subject areas
  • Music
  • Level 3

These are Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).¹

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

¹The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications and replaced by the RQF. The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.


The qualifications are graded Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction* (P, M, D, D*).

The overall grade is calculated based on the aggregation of unit grades within the qualifications.


The full Music Practitioners qualifications are internally assessed and externally moderated.

Internal assessment is conducted through the setting of briefs which adhere to the assessment criteria of the unit specification.

Student submissions are assessed using the grading criteria, which are specific to each unit.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Qualifications are 100% internally assessed and externally moderated.

The qualifications comprise a ‘Core’ (mandatory) unit, plus a selection of optional units which carry variable credit values.

The ‘Core’ unit equates to 15 credits, meaning mandatory content can range between 100% and 8% of the qualification, depending on the total credit value of the qualification.

For full assessment and unit information, please view the qualification specification on the RSL website.

Resit arrangements

Evidence may be resubmitted during the registration period.

Units can be retaken during the specified assessment period. The centre can set the assessment, and offer resubmission opportunities with a frequency determined internally.

Guided/notional learning hours
Certificate (15 credits / 150 TQT): 90 hours
Extended Certificate (35 credits / 350 TQT): 210 hours
Subsidiary Diploma (90 credits / 900 TQT): 540 hours
Diploma (120 credits / 1200 TQT): 720 hours
Extended Diploma (180 credits / 1800 TQT): 1080 hours
UCAS Tariff points

RSL Level 3 Extended Diploma for Music Practitioners

Grade Points
D* 168
D 144
M 96
P 48

RSL Level 3 Diploma for Music Practitioners

Grade Points
D* 112
D 96
M 64
P 32

RSL Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma for Music Practitioners

Grade Points
D* 84
D 72
M 48
P 24

RSL Level 3 Extended Certificate for Music Practitioners

Grade Points
D* 28
D 24
M 16
P 8

RSL Level 3 Certificate for Music Practitioners

Grade Points
D* 14
D 12
M 8
P 4


Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • Applicants holding interim-reformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
  • The 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.
  • 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.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions 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. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

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

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

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Students are assessed throughout the duration of their course. The vast majority will complete the course by end of June, with results issued in late July and submitted to UCAS in early August.

Qualification dates notes

These qualifications are current. 

Reporting and certification information

The results of RSL Level 3 qualifications for Music Practitioners are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

Certifications are reported on a quarterly basis to the relevant regulators.

Progression information

Tech level qualifications differ in size; some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right in a related area and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications, for instance A levels. In addition, some higher education courses may require specific levels of achievement in particular units or ask for additional qualifications to satisfy subject knowledge requirements.

These qualifications offer progression to higher education, an apprenticeship, or employment.

Progression to HE will probably be in the vocational area of the qualification, and may be to a foundation degree or a Higher National qualification (HNC/HND).

Tech level qualifications are supported by at least five employers from the job sector the qualification is related to. All students have to take part in meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study. Examples are work placements, taking part in projects, or some of the course being taught by someone who works in the industry.