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Examples of vocational and other qualifications

Entrance requirements Vocational and other qualifications Examples of vocational and other qualifications

This page shows details of the level of attainment that would be required in vocational and other qualifications, for students to make competitive applications to Oxford University.  Please note that where specific A-levels are listed as requirements, particularly in the sciences, students would generally need to take those A-levels or another academic equivalent.

If your qualification is not listed here, please contact us with further details, and we will be happy to advise you. It would be helpful if you could provide details about the nature of your qualifications, including the name of the awarding institution, and your intended course of study at Oxford.

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National Diplomas, Certificates and Awards (BTEC and City & Guilds)

The National Extended Diploma is equivalent to three A-levels, and so students studying this qualification would be able to apply. Students with the National Diploma, equivalent to two A-levels, would need to take an A-level as well as the Diploma in order to make a competitive application. Students with the National Subsidiary Diploma, equivalent to one A-level, would need to take two A-levels as well as the National Subsidiary Diploma.

  • Conditional offers for the National Extended Diploma would probably be DDD (Distinctions).
  • Conditional offers for the National Diploma would probably be DD (Distinctions) plus an A grade at A-level.
  • Conditional offers for the National Subsidiary Diploma would probably be D (Distinction) plus two A grades at A-level.

Please be aware that where a course requires A*AA at A-level, a D*DD would be required for the National Extended Diploma, for example.

Applicants will also need to ensure that they meet the usual requirements for entry to a course (e.g. applicants for Medicine will require A-level Chemistry or equivalent, as well as a second science or Mathematics at A-level; Engineering Science applicants require the equivalent of Mathematics and Physics at A-level), and they will also need to take any of the necessary tests and/or submit examples of coursework.

Fine Art

Applicants interested in applying for Fine Art who are studying for a BTEC National Extended Diploma (BTEC) will have to submit a portfolio of work, and an offer will require candidates to achieve DDD grades. Tutors welcome applications from those who are engaged on a BTEC National Extended Diploma Art and Design course where there is a substantial element of both Fine Art and Art History. Please note that because of the practical nature of the Fine Art degree, which also includes a substantial theoretical component, a candidate who has successfully completed the BTEC may be well suited to the content and structure of the degree course at Oxford.

Advanced Vocational Certificates of Education (AVCEs)

To make a competitive application to Oxford students would need to have either the single or the double award AVCE, and at least two A-Levels. Where specific science subjects are required they must be taken at A-Level. Conditional offers would probably be for full marks in the AVCE and A grades in the A-Levels.

Access Courses

Access courses are usually one year of full time study or two years part time study and are the equivalent of an A-level course. They aim to provide students with the qualifications needed to progress to Higher Education.

Some access courses allow students to take one or two A-levels as part of the course. This option is strongly recommended for students who wish to apply to Oxford. Conditional offers would be for A or A* grades in any A-levels taken. For Access courses that do not include A-levels, conditional offers are likely to be for successful completion of the course, with the majority of courses taken at level 3.

For science subjects, access courses will only be acceptable alternatives to A-level where the access course covers the same content as any required A-levels, to the appropriate standard. For example, Access to Medicine courses would only be sufficient if the course covers the same content as A-level Chemistry and an A-level in another science or Mathematics, to the appropriate standard. Candidates who do not have Biology, Physics and Mathematics to at least A-level standard would need to have studied these subjects to at least GCSE standard.

Conditional offers are likely to be for 45 level 3 credits, with 24 achieved at Distinction and the rest at Merit. Where a candidate is taking more than 45 credits at level 3 within the Diploma, offers may specify the subjects where the Distinctions need to be achieved.

Foundation Courses

Foundation courses are usually a university-level course (one year full time or two years'part time) for candidates who have already achieved sufficient qualifications to enter university but which need to be refreshed before embarking on a full time degree programme. Where specific science subjects are required, the foundation course must be shown to cover the same content as those A-levels to the appropriate standard. We would expect students to be performing at the highest level.

University of Oxford Foundation Courses

The University of Oxford offers Foundation Certificates in English Language and Literature, and History, through its Department for Continuing Education. Students on these courses can apply to study a complete degree at any University, including here at Oxford University. If students do apply here to Oxford, they may apply for direct entry to year two of the relevant undergraduate course.

For further details please see the Continuing Education Department website, email or call +44 (0) 1865 270369.

Art Foundation Courses

An Art Foundation course is not a prerequisite for applying to study Fine Art at Oxford, but is certainly recommended as a good preparation for taking Fine Art at degree level as it enables candidates to prepare a comprehensibe portfolio of work which is a requirement for the admissions process.  Most successful applicants to Oxford have completed an Art Foundation course.

Foundation Degrees

Foundation degrees are usually two years of full time study and would be acceptable in lieu of A-Levels, provided that the degree covered the same content as any A-Levels which are specifically required.

Professional Qualifications

Professional qualifications would be taken in to account as part of an application, particularly where these provide evidence of recent academic study. Examples include areas such as law, personnel, and accountancy.

Open University Qualifications

Open University courses are usually studied by distance learning, with course work and examination elements.  Students are awarded points according to the content of each course, and the points may count towards different qualifications from diplomas to complete degrees.  A full degree would usually require 360 points: 120 at level 1 (equivalent to the first year of a degree at a conventional university) 120 at level 2 and 120 at level 3.

To apply to Oxford, students would need to have completed or be studying for at least 120 points at level 1, in appropriate subjects. We would expect students to be performing at the highest level, with at least pass grade 2.

Higher National Diploma or Certificate (HND or HNC)

Applicants who are applying with HND or HNC qualifications will only be considered for entry to the first year of an Oxford degree. Candidates should ensure that their reference is given by a tutor from the HND or HNC course, and that they provide details of all their modules and grades in the UCAS application. The University will expect a candidate to be achieving at the Distinction level.