The Diploma is a new qualification combining subjects such as English, maths and ICT with practical learning, including project work and work experience. It is intended for the academically-minded, but contains a work-based slant.

There are 17 broad subject areas including business and administration; engineering; creative and media; business and administration; hair and beauty; sport and leisure; health; travel and tourism; manufacturing and product design; and humanities and social science.

A diploma rolled up and tied with a green ribbon

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The Diploma is a ‘composite qualification’ which means that it’s made up of a number of parts designed to help students develop skills, knowledge and understanding, and then demonstrate what they’ve learnt.

The Diploma is made up of 6 components:

  • Principal learning - content closely related to the Diploma subject
  • Additional and specialist learning (ASL) - a subject in another area of interest (may include a GCSE or A Level)
  • Functional skills - skills in English, Maths and ICT.
  • Personal, learning and thinking skills - aimed at developing transferable skills such as time management, teamwork and creative thinking.
  • Work experience - a work placement lasting at least 10 days
  • Project - on a topic related to the chosen line of learning, which gives students a chance to demonstrate the skills they’ve learnt throughout the Diploma.

Diplomas take two years to complete and include a mixture of controlled assessments, coursework and exams. The overall Diploma grade combines the core work and project work scores. Some of the components of the Diploma are qualifications in their own right, for example, the principal learning and project components, but all aspects must be completed to obtain the full qualification.

There are four levels of the Diploma:

  • Foundation Diploma - equivalent to 5 GCSEs grades D-G
  • Higher Diploma - equivalent to 7 GCSEs grades A*-C
  • Progression Diploma - equivalent to 2 A Levels and aimed at those who cannot complete the whole Advanced Diploma.
  • Advanced Diploma - equivalent to 3.5 A Levels

The Foundation Diploma is graded as  A*-B (or U if ungraded), the Higher Diploma is graded A*-C (or U if ungraded), and the Advanced and Progression Diploma are graded as A*-E (or U if ungraded).

Students who have undertaken the Foundation or Higher Diploma can look into studying further qualifications, such as BTECs, NVQs or A Levels. Those who have undertaken the Advanced Diploma can consider attending university in the normal way. Those who do not wish to attend university, can apply to either a job or apprenticeship in the normal way.

The Diploma is a relatively new development, so its structure and guidelines are changing all the time so keep checking our website for any changes.


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