Even just in the UK, there are so many different qualifications for you to choose from. Looking just at degrees, there are bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, PhDs and even Degree Apprenticeships, but what about the qualifications that are considered “below” this level? In fact, what does that even mean?
In short, any qualification from entry level to level 5 or from level 1 to level 9 in Scotland will be classed as “below” an honours degree. This includes a wide range of qualifications, from GCSEs/ National qualifications to A-Levels/ Higher qualifications, which you can study at school or sixth form. This also includes less common qualifications, such as foundation degrees, ordinary degrees in Scotland as well as Higher Apprenticeships and many more.
There can be a lot of confusion when it comes to figuring out how qualifications rank against each other, particularly with the more traditional qualifications, such as honours degrees with lesser known ones, such as HNCs. This article will give you a better understanding of all this.
What is an honours degree?
In order to understand which qualifications are “below” an honours degree, it’s important to first understand what an honours degree is. Understanding this can give us a basis to compare other qualifications to.
An honours degree or a degree with honours is a form of bachelor’s degree that is slightly more difficult than one without honours. In the UK, the vast majority of degrees are honours degrees and so if you are applying to a bachelor’s degree, the likelihood is that this will be an honours degree.
In most of the UK, a bachelor’s degree, with or without honours, is a level 6 qualification. This qualification will typically be studied at university and last 3 or 4 years if studied full-time. However, these may be studied in different formats and can generally be studied part-time.
In Scotland, an honours degree is a level 10 qualification. There is also a slight difference as an honours degree is at a higher level to an ordinary degree, which is a level 9 qualification in Scotland. For more information about this, check out this guide by the University of Glasgow.
To learn more about bachelor’s degrees, check out this Think Student article. For a better understanding on what honours degrees are specifically, please look at this Think Student article, which will break it down for you.
What does below honours degree level mean?
As the name suggests, for a qualification to be “below” an honours degree, it would need to be at a lower level to it. In the UK, the best way to compare what qualifications are lower than an honours degree is by looking at the different qualification levels.
As previously mentioned, for the UK, an honours degree is either a level 6 qualification or a level 10 qualification in Scotland. This means that a qualification below this must be either a level 5 qualification and below or a level 9 qualification and below.
For the majority of the UK, there are 9 qualification levels. These range from entry level to level 8 qualifications. This means that any qualifications that are from entry level to level 5 would be considered “below” an honours degree in terms of level.
For Scotland, there are 12 qualification levels. These range from level 1 to level 12. This means that any qualifications from level 1 to level 9 would count as being “below” an honours degree in terms of the level of the qualification.
For more information about the qualification levels, check out this Think Student article.
Which qualifications are below an honours degree?
Now that we’ve established what it means for a qualification to be below honours degree level, we can look at some of the different qualifications that fall into this category. The best way to look at this is to split these examples up by the level of each of these qualifications.
Look at the following list to see some examples of qualifications that are below honours degree level.
- Level 5/ level 9 – Some of the qualifications at this level include a foundation degree, an ordinary degree (Scotland only), a higher education diploma (HND) and a diploma of higher education (DipHE). You can learn more about foundation degrees in this Think Student article.
- Level 4/ level 8 – Some of the qualifications at this level include a higher national certificate (HNC), a certificate of higher education (CertHE) and a level 4 Higher Apprenticeship. You can learn more about both HNCs and HNDs in this Think Student article. You can also learn about CertHEs by clicking on this Think Student article.
- Level 3/ level 6 or 7 – Some of the qualifications at this level include A-Levels, Higher qualifications, T-Levels, BTEC Nationals and Advanced Apprenticeships. Also, Advanced Higher qualifications are also at this level but are at level 7 in Scotland rather than level 6, which the rest of these would be equivalent to.
- Level 2/ level 5 – Some of the qualifications at this level include GCSEs, National 5 qualifications, Intermediate Apprenticeships and level 2 NVQs/ SVQs.
- Level 1/ Level 4 – Some of the qualifications at this level include National 4 qualifications, level 1 BTEC qualifications and level 1 NVQs/ SVQs.
- Entry level/ levels 1, 2 and 3 – Some of the qualifications included at this level are National 1, 2 and 3 qualifications, respective to the level, and certain certificates or awards at this level.
You can learn more about these qualifications by clicking on this Think Student article.