• EQF Home Page Icon

Find and Compare Qualifications Frameworks

Find and Compare Qualifications Frameworks

Compare the results of the national referencing process by choosing the national flag. Up to 5 examples of qualifications are provided for each NQF level. National systems may include many other qualifications at those levels.

  • Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields
  • The most advanced and specialised skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice
  • Demonstrate substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research
  • Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research; critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields
  • Specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields
  • Manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches; take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams
  • Advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles
  • Advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study
  • Manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision making in unpredictable work or study contexts; take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups
  • Comprehensive, specialised, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge
  • A comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems
  • Exercise management and supervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change review and develop performance of self and others
  • Factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work or study
  • A range of cognitive and practical skills required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study
  • Exercise self-management within the guidelines of work or study contexts that are usually predictable, but are subject to change; supervise the routine work of others, taking some responsibility for the evaluation and improvement of work or study activities
  • Knowledge of facts, principles, processes and general concepts, in a field of work or study
  • A range of cognitive and practical skills required to accomplish tasks and solve problems by selecting and applying basic methods, tools, materials and information
  • Take responsibility for completion of tasks in work or study; adapt own behaviour to circumstances in solving problems
  • Basic factual knowledge of a field of work or study
  • Basic cognitive and practical skills required to use relevant information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools
  • Work or study under supervision with some autonomy
  • Basic general knowledge
  • Basic skills required to carry out simple tasks
  • Work or study under direct supervision in a structured context
Ireland
Country
England & Northern Ireland
Quality and Qualifications Ireland

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012 with a board appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills.

We are responsible for maintaining the ten-level NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications). We are also an awarding body and set standards for awards we make in the NFQ.

We also provide advice on recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland and on the recognition of Irish qualifications abroad. As a new function of QQI, we will publish a directory of providers and awards in the NFQ.

In the area of quality assurance, we are responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of quality assurance in further and higher education providers in Ireland. This includes the universities, institutes of technology, Education and Training Boards and providers in the private further and higher education and training sectors (availing of QQI awards).

NQF/NQS NCP: Quality and Qualifications Ireland
Information
Ofqual & CCEA

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)

At Ofqual, we're responsible for maintaining standards, improving confidence and distributing information about qualifications and examinations. We regulate general and vocational qualifications in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. We give formal recognition to bodies and organisations that deliver qualifications and assessments. We also accredit their awards and monitor their activities (including their fees).

We're not directly controlled by the government but report to parliament.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) is a non-departmental public body reporting to the Department of Education in Northern Ireland.  CCEA is a unique educational body in the UK, bringing together the three areas of curriculum, examinations and assessment.  CCEA Advises Government on what should be taught in Northern Ireland’s schools and colleges. CCEA Monitors standards ensuring that the qualifications and examinations offered by awarding bodies in Northern Ireland are of an appropriate quality and standard.  As Northern Ireland’s leading awarding body CCEA offers a diverse range of qualifications, such as GCSEs, including the new GCSE Double Award specifications in vocational subjects, GCE A and AS levels, Entry Level Qualifications, and Graded Objectives in Modern Languages

NQF/NQS NCP: Ofqual & CCEA
Referencing Report
NFQ level 10
  • Doctoral Degree
    Entry to a programme leading to a Doctoral Degree is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees. The general model is that a holder of an Honours Bachelor Degree with a high classification enters initially a Masters research programme, and transfers to a Doctoral programme after one year on the Masters research programme. In total, the number of years in the programme would generally be at least 3 years. There is also access to Doctoral Degrees for holders of Masters Degrees whether taught Masters or research Masters. Various models for Doctoral Degree programmes now exist, ranging from the traditional research doctorate to professional and practitioner doctoral programmes which have substantial taught components. Most doctoral programmes are now structured to include some taught components.
EQF Level 8
QCF Level 8

Level 8 qualifications recognise leading experts or practitioners in a particular field. Learning at this level involves the development of new and creative approaches that extend or redefine existing knowledge or professional practice.

  • Vocational Qualifications level 8
    Vocational qualifications (VQs) are designed to allow learners to learn in a way that suits them, and give learners the skills that employers are looking for. Occupational VQs are designed to meet the national occupational standards (NOS) for a particular sector/work place and employers rely on these qualifications for evidence that an employee is competent to carry out the job.
NFQ level 9
  • Masters Degree
    There are two types of Masters Degree in Ireland: taught Masters Degrees and research Masters Degrees. The taught Masters Degree is awarded following the completion of an accredited programme of 1 to 2 years duration (60-120 ECTS credits). Entry to a programme leading to a taught Masters Degree is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees. Also, in some cases, entry to such programmes can be permitted for those with Ordinary Bachelor Degrees or equivalent who have some relevant work experience. Furthermore, in some cases, entry to such programmes is permitted for people with extensive experience in a relevant area. Research Masters Degree programmes are typically of 2 years duration, though they are not credit rated. Entry to a programme leading to a research Masters Degree is typically for holders of an Honours Bachelor Degree, with a high classification, i.e. first or second class honours. The Irish Masters Degree is compatible with completion of the Bologna Second Cycle.
  • Post-graduate Diploma
    The Post-graduate Diploma is normally awarded following completion of a programme of 1-year duration (60 ECTS credits) in a recognised higher education institution. Entry to a programme leading to a Post-graduate Diploma is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees but can also be for holders of Ordinary Bachelor Degrees. The Post-graduate Diploma is an intermediate qualification within the Bologna Second Cycle.
EQF Level 7
QCF Level 7

Level 7 qualifications recognise highly developed and complex levels of knowledge which enable the development of in-depth and original responses to complicated and unpredictable problems and situations. Learning at this level involves the demonstration of high level specialist professional knowledge and is appropriate for senior professionals and managers. Level 7 qualifications are at a level equivalent to Masters degrees, postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas.

  • National Vocational Qualifications Level 5
    National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) cover a broad range of industry sectors and occupations and are delivered either in the learner’s actual workplace or in a workplace setting. Each NVQ is made up of units of national occupational standards, which define the knowledge, understanding and competence required to perform that particular job related role.
  • Vocational Qualifications level 7
    Vocational qualifications (VQs) are designed to allow learners to learn in a way that suits them, and give learners the skills that employers are looking for. Occupational VQs are designed to meet the national occupational standards (NOS) for a particular sector/work place and employers rely on these qualifications for evidence that an employee is competent to carry out the job.
NFQ level 8
  • Honours Bachelor Degree
    The Honours Bachelor Degree is normally awarded following completion of a programme of three or four years duration (180-240 ECTS credits) in a recognised higher education institution/provider, although there are examples of longer programmes in areas such as architecture, dentistry and medicine. Entry to a programme leading to an ab-initio Honours Bachelor degree is typically for high achieving school leavers and those with equivalent qualifications. In addition, there are typically programmes of 1-year duration (60 ECTS credits) leading to Honours Bachelor Degrees available to holders of the Ordinary Bachelor Degree. The Honours Bachelor Degree is a Bologna First Cycle qualification.
  • Higher Diploma
    The Higher Diploma is normally awarded following completion of an accredited programme of 1-year duration (60 ECTS credits) in a recognised higher education institution/provider. Entry to a programme leading to a Higher Diploma is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees but can also be for holders of Ordinary Bachelor Degrees. It is of note that the Higher Diploma is typically in a different field of learning than the initial award. The Higher Diploma is a qualification at the same level as completion of the Bologna First Cycle.
NFQ level 7
  • Ordinary Bachelor Degree
    The Ordinary Bachelor Degree is normally awarded after completion of an accredited programme of three years duration (180 ECTS credits) in a recognised higher education institution/provider. Entry to a programme leading to an ab-initio Ordinary Bachelor Degree is typically for school leavers and those with equivalent qualifications. In addition, there are 1 year add-on Ordinary Bachelor degree programmes (60 ECTS credits) for holders of the Higher Certificate. The Ordinary Bachelor Degree is compatible with the Bologna First Cycle descriptor, though holders of this award do not generally gain immediate access to programmes leading to Second Cycle awards in Ireland.
EQF Level 6
QCF Level 6

Level 6 qualifications recognise a specialist high level knowledge of an area of work or study to enable the use of an individual's own ideas and research in response to complex problems and situations. Learning at this level involves the achievement of a high level of professional knowledge and is appropriate for people working as knowledge-based professionals or in a professional management positions. Level 6 qualifications are at a level equivalent to Bachelors degrees with honours, graduate certificates and graduate diplomas.

  • Vocational Qualifications Level 6
    Vocational qualifications (VQs) are designed to allow learners to learn in a way that suits them, and give learners the skills that employers are looking for. Occupational VQs are designed to meet the national occupational standards (NOS) for a particular sector/work place and employers rely on these qualifications for evidence that an employee is competent to carry out the job.
NFQ level 6
  • Advanced Certificate
    An Advanced Certificate award enables learners to develop a comprehensive range of skills, which may be vocationally specific and/or of a general supervisory nature, and require detailed theoretical understanding. Modules include advanced vocational/occupational skills, enabling certificate holders to work independently or progress to higher education and training. The majority of certificate/module holders at NFQ Level 6 take up positions of employment, some of whom may be self-employed. Examples of the Advanced certificate would include Advanced Certificate Craft-Electrical (major award); Advanced Certificate Craft- Metal Fabrication (major award); Advanced Certificate Farm Management (major award).
  • Higher Certificate
    The Higher Certificate is normally awarded after completion of an accredited programme of two years duration (120 ECTS credits) in a recognised higher education institution/provider. Entry to these programmes is generally for school leavers and those with equivalent qualifications. The Higher Certificate is an intermediate qualification within the Bologna First Cycle.
EQF Level 5
QCF Level 5

Level 5 qualifications recognise the ability to increase the depth of knowledge and understanding of an area of work or study to enable the formulation of solutions and responses to complex problems and situations. Learning at this level involves the demonstration of high levels of knowledge, a high level of work expertise in job roles and competence in managing and training others. Qualifications at the level are appropriate for people working as higher technicians, professionals, or managers. Level 5 qualifications are at a level equivalent to intermediate Higher education qualifications such as Diplomas of Higher Education, Foundation and other degrees that do not typically provide access to postgraduate programmes.

  • Level 5 Vocational Qualifications
    Vocational qualifications (VQs) are designed to allow learners to learn in a way that suits them, and give learners the skills that employers are looking for. Occupational VQs are designed to meet the national occupational standards (NOS) for a particular sector/work place and employers rely on these qualifications for evidence that an employee is competent to carry out the job.
  • Higher National Diplomas (HND)
    A Higher National Certificate (HNC) is a higher education qualification. The HNC is studied full-time, the qualification normally takes one year or two years part time.
QCF Level 4

Level 4 qualifications recognise specialist learning and involves detailed analysis of a high level of information and knowledge in an area of work or study. Learning at this level is appropriate for people working in technical and professional jobs, and/or managing and developing others. Level 4 qualifications are at level equivalent to Certificates of Higher Education.

  • Level 4 Vocational Qualifications
    Vocational qualifications (VQs) are designed to allow learners to learn in a way that suits them, and give learners the skills that employers are looking for. Occupational VQs are designed to meet the national occupational standards (NOS) for a particular sector/work place and employers rely on these qualifications for evidence that an employee is competent to carry out the job.
  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
    A Higher National Certificate (HNC) is a higher education qualification. The HNC is studied full-time, the qualification normally takes one year or two years part time.
NFQ level 5
  • Level 5 Certificate
    The Level 5 Certificate enables learners to develop a broad range of skills, which are vocational specific and require a general theoretical understanding. They are enabled to work independently while subject to general direction. The majority of certificate/module holders at level 5 take up positions of employment. They are also deemed to meet the minimum entry requirements for a range of higher education institutions / programmes. Examples of Level 5 awards would include the Level 5 Certificate in Restaurant Operations (major award); the Level 5 Certificate in Seafood Processing (major award).
  • Leaving Certificate
    The Leaving Certificate, which is included at Levels 4 and 5 of the NFQ, is a school award, prescribed by the Department of Education and Skills. It is taken on completion of a two or three year senior cycle (the senior cycle provides for an optional Transition year on completion of the junior cycle). The learner can take one of three Leaving Certificate programmes of two years duration: the Leaving Certificate (established); the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP); and the Leaving Certificate Applied. A majority of learners complete the Leaving Certificate (established) programme.
EQF Level 4
QCF Level 3

Level 3 qualifications recognise the ability to gain and where relevant apply a range of knowledge, skills and understanding. Learning at this level involves obtaining detailed knowledge and skills. Level 3 is appropriate for people wishing to go to university, people working independently, or in some areas supervising and training others in their field of work.

  • GCE AS and A Level
    The AS is a stand-alone qualification usually made up of two units and is worth half a full A level. GCE advanced levels (A levels) are made up of advanced subsidiary (AS) units and A2 units. A levels are available in over 45 subjects and are usually sat by 16 to 18 year olds in schools or colleges, but are open to anyone who wants to gain a qualification.
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) level 3
    National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) cover a broad range of industry sectors and occupations and are delivered either in the learner’s actual workplace or in a workplace setting. Each NVQ is made up of units of national occupational standards, which define the knowledge, understanding and competence required to perform that particular job related role.
  • Functional Skills Level 3 (England only)

    Functional skills are a key element to the curriculum and qualifications reforms in England. They are the practical skills that allow people to use English, mathematics, and information and communication technology (ICT) in real life contexts. In developing functional skills, people can adapt and apply the knowledge to suit different situations they may face at home, at work, in education, and in the community.

NFQ level 4
  • Level 4 Certificate
    The Level 4 Certificate enables learners to gain recognition for the achievement of vocational and personal skills, knowledge and understanding to specified standards, the enhancement of individual talents and qualities and the achievement and learning relevant to a variety of progression options, including employment at an introductory vocational level, and programmes leading to a Level 5 Certificate. Examples of Level 4 awards would include the Level 4 Certificate in Horticulture (major award); the Level 4 Certificate in Pharmacy Sales (major award).
  • Leaving Certificate
    The Leaving Certificate, which is included at Levels 4 and 5 of the NFQ, is a school award, prescribed by the Department of Education and Skills. It is taken on completion of a two or three year senior cycle (the senior cycles provides for an optional Transition year on completion of the junior cycle). The learner can take one of three Leaving Certificate programmes of two years duration: the Leaving Certificate (established); the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP); and the Leaving Certificate Applied. A majority of learners complete the Leaving Certificate (established) programme.
EQF Level 3
QCF Level 2

Level 2 qualifications recognise the ability to gain a good knowledge and understanding of a subject area of work or study and to perform varied tasks with some guidance or supervision.

  • GCSEs Grades A*-C
    General Certificate of Secondary Education, is now the main school-leaving qualification in England. GCSEs are available in over 50 subjects. GCSEs can be studied alongside other qualifications and are usually sat by 15-18 year olds in schools or colleges.
  • Higher Diploma (England only)
    The Diploma is a composite qualifications for 14-19 year olds made up of principal learning; generic learning, and additional and specialist learning. They can be taken at three levels: Foundation, which is a Level 1 qualification; Higher Diploma, which is Level 2; and the Advanced and Progression Diplomas, which are both Level 3. Diplomas have been designed with input from employers and are available in industry sector related ‘lines of learning.’
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 2

    National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) cover a broad range of industry sectors and occupations and are delivered either in the learner’s actual workplace or in a workplace setting. Each NVQ is made up of units of national occupational standards, which define the knowledge, understanding and competence required to perform that particular job related role.

  • Functional Skills at level 2 (England only)

    Functional skills are a key element to the curriculum and qualifications reforms in England. They are the practical skills that allow people to use English, mathematics, and information and communication technology (ICT) in real life contexts. In developing functional skills, people can adapt and apply the knowledge to suit different situations they may face at home, at work, in education, and in the community.

  • Essential Skills at level 2 (Northern Ireland only)

    Essential Skills are nationally accredited adult qualifications available throughout Northern Ireland in - Entry Level Literacy, Entry Level Numeracy, Level 1&2 Communication, Level 1&2 Application of Number

NFQ level 3
  • Level 3 Certificate
    The Level 3 Certificate enables learners to gain recognition for, specific personal skills, practical skills and knowledge, basic transferable skills, the enhancement of individual talents and qualities and achievements and learning relevant to a variety of progression options. An example of an award at NFQ Level 3 is the Level 3 Certificate in Keyboard and Computer Skills (major award).
EQF Level 2
QCF Level 1

Level 1 qualifications recognise basic knowledge and skills and the ability to apply learning with guidance or supervision. Learning at this level is about activities which mostly relate to everyday situations and may be linked to job competence.

  • GCSEs Grades G - D.
    General Certificate of Secondary Education, is now the main school-leaving qualification in England. GCSEs are available in over 50 subjects. GCSEs can be studied alongside other qualifications and are usually sat by 15-18 year olds in schools or colleges.
  • Foundation Diploma (England only)
    The Diploma is a composite qualifications for 14-19 year olds made up of principal learning; generic learning, and additional and specialist learning. They can be taken at three levels: Foundation, which is a Level 1 qualification; Higher Diploma, which is Level 2; and the Advanced and Progression Diplomas, which are both Level 3. Diplomas have been designed with input from employers and are available in industry sector related ‘lines of learning.’
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 1

    National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) cover a broad range of industry sectors and occupations and are delivered either in the learner’s actual workplace or in a workplace setting. Each NVQ is made up of units of national occupational standards, which define the knowledge, understanding and competence required to perform that particular job related role.

  • Functional Skills Level 1 (England only)

    Functional skills are a key element to the curriculum and qualifications reforms in England. They are the practical skills that allow people to use English, mathematics, and information and communication technology (ICT) in real life contexts. In developing functional skills, people can adapt and apply the knowledge to suit different situations they may face at home, at work, in education, and in the community.

NFQ level 2
  • Level 2 Certificate
    Level 2 certificates are designed to meet the needs of learners, both young and old, including those with intellectual and other disabilities, adults returning to training, and learners with few or no previous qualifications, including those within the workforce. These awards provide certification for learners who may progress to higher levels and also for those whose principal achievements rest at these levels. Each certificate comprises a number of components, most often in basic literacy and numeracy, which the learner can achieve at their own pace and accumulate over time towards one of the named certificates above. An example of an award at NFQ Level 2 is the Level 2 Certificate in General Learning (major award).
NFQ level 1
  • Level 1 Certificate
    Level 1 certificates are designed to meet the needs of learners, both young and old, including those with intellectual and other disabilities, adults returning to training, and learners with few or no previous qualifications, including those within the workforce. These awards provide certification for learners who may progress to higher levels and also for those whose principal achievements rest at these levels. Each certificate comprises a number of components, most often in basic literacy and numeracy, which the learner can achieve at their own pace and accumulate over time towards one of the named certificates. An example of an award at NFQ Level 1 is the Level 1 Certificate in Communications (major award).
EQF Level 1
Entry Level 3

Achievement at Entry 3 reflects the ability to make use of skills, knowledge and understanding, to carry out structured tasks and activities in familiar contexts, with appropriate guidance where needed.

As EQF starts at Level 1, referencing NQF levels below that level is not possible
Entry Level 2

Achievement at Entry level 2 reflects the ability to make use of skills, knowledge and understanding and carry out simple, familiar tasks and activities with guidance.

Entry Level 1

Entry 1 ranges from the most elementary of achievements to beginning to make use of skills, knowledge or understanding that relate to the immediate environment.