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Vocational Diplomas are particular types of work-related qualifications, available in a wide range of subjects. You can take one if you are interested in learning more about a particular sector or industry. Many have been designed in collaboration with industry, so they can equip you with the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. The qualifications offer a mix of theory and practice, and can also include an element of work experience. They can take the form of (or be part of) a technical certificate, one of the key components of an Apprenticeship.
The 'National diploma route' is sometimes known as the 'Vocational Route'. Students can progress into employment or to university.
National Diplomas are at Level 3 on the National Qualification Framework and are equivalent to 3 A Levels. Those achieving a Distinction level profile will hold the equivalent of three Grade A A Levels.
First Diplomas are at Leve1 2 on the National Qualification Framework and are equivalent to 4 GCSEs Grades A* - C.
The college entry requirements for a National Diploma programme are 5 GCSEs Grade A* - C. Further details are listed in the School Leaver prospectus which can be viewed by clicking on the 'How to Apply' tab. The full-time course application form can also be downloaded and completed.
First and National Diplomas are divided into a number of units which you study. Each unit is graded separately so that you can see how well you are achieving throughout the course and there are no surprises at the end.
How you are assessed
Generally, you are assessed by your teacher or trainer in your place of study. Depending on the qualification you choose, some assessment may also be done by external examiners.
You will complete a range of assignments, case studies and practical activities, as well as a portfolio of evidence that shows the work you have completed.
BTEC and OCR Nationals are graded:
If you take a qualification at level 3, you can earn points on the 'UCAS Tariff' for entry into higher education.
Both BTEC and OCR Nationals can earn you equivalent points to AS and A levels. For example, a BTEC National Diploma with overall three merit grades has 240 UCAS points (one A level with A grade has 120 UCAS points).