Choosing the right level


Entry Level

If you do not have experience, or are not feeling confident about your abilities, then this level could be a good place to start. Our ESOL courses are at Entry level and are designed to give you an understanding of the English language in preparation for a higher level course.

Level 1

Level 1 courses provide a general introduction to skills tasks and knowledge. They are ideal if you are starting out or are new to the subject area.

Level 2

In order to enrol on a Level 2 course you need to have some knowledge or experience of the subject area. Once completed, Level 2 courses are equivalent to 4-5 GCSEs at Grade C or above.

Level 3

Level 3 courses such as A-levels and BTEC Extended Diplomas will further develop your knowledge and understanding of your chosen subject area. Level 3 courses generally last 2 years.

Level 4 and above

Level 4 and above courses help you gain specialist knowledge and understanding of the subject area. They fall in to the category of Higher Education and are equivalent to courses taught at Universities.


A-levels are academic qualifications awarded for successfully completing two years of study. Students are encouraged to take three or four subjects in pathways. Students can further their study by progressing to University.

Access to H.E. Diplomas

Our Access to H.E. Diploma courses are accredited by the Open College Network London. These courses are 1 year long and designed for adults who have previously missed opportunities to gain academic qualifications - you do not need specific qualifications to get onto a course.

You must be 19 years or over at the start of the course and committed to studying intensively.


An Apprenticeship is a real job with training so you can earn while you learn and pick up some recognised qualifications. Training normally takes place in a mixture of your workplace and the College but in some cases, all training is provided in the workplace with tutors visiting you. In order to undertake an Apprenticeship with CNWL you must already be in suitable employment.


Traineeships are short, flexible programmes for 16-23 year-olds, combining work experience and pre-employment training to help you successfully find a job or Apprenticeship.

HNCs, HNDs & Foundation Degrees

Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND) are Higher Education level courses – they are University level qualifications designed to give you specialist knowledge in your chosen field. Most of our programmes are 2 year HNDs. The curriculum is planned so that after the first year you could be awarded a HNC.

We also offer some stand-alone HNCs, both part-time and full-time. Foundation degrees are equivalent to the first 2 years of a Degree and combine vocational and academic study. These, as well as our HNC & HNDs, can lead to top-up degrees at a university.


NVQs are vocational awards achieved through assessment and training, usually in the workplace. These are ‘competence based’ qualifications where people learn practical, work-related tasks to help develop the skills and knowledge to increase their effectiveness.

BTEC, City & Guilds and IMI Certificates/Diplomas

BTEC, City & Guilds and IMI Certificates and Diplomas are courses with a vocational focus recommended for those interested in a particular area of study e.g. Performing Arts or Information Technology. They are continually assessed, coursework based qualifications with very few or no exams.

Please note: BTEC Level 3 Extended Diplomas are delivered as two one year programmes:

Year 1 - Subsidiary Diplomas 

Year 2 - Diploma/Extended Diploma 

Students are expected to satisfactorily complete the Subsidiary programme prior to being considered appropriate for a year 2 qualification.