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About the QCF

What is the QCF?

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is a unitised qualification framework underpinned by a system of credit accumulation and transfer. Every unit on the framework will have a level and a credit value which is based on the notional learning hours for that specific unit (for further information see the section: What is credit?). The QCF is designed to allow learners to achieve credit for individual units or qualifications, providing learners with the opportunity to accumulate credit at their own pace and use it to claim for a qualification when they are ready.

Qualifications within the QCF

There are three sizes of qualifications in the QCF:

  • Awards (1-12 credits)
  • Certificates (13-36 credits)
  • Diplomas (37 credits or more)

It is possible to have all three of these qualifications at each level, for example, Level 1 Award, Certificate or Diploma in Business Skills. This is because the classification of the qualification as an Award, Certificate or Diploma refers to the size of the qualification, not the level of difficulty.

Each qualification title will contain the level of qualification (e.g. Entry 2), the size (award/certificate/diploma) and details indicating the content of qualification.

For example:

  • Level 2 Award in Business Skills
  • Level 1 Certificate in IT Users (ITQ)

What is a credit?

Every unit and qualification on the QCF has been given a credit value, which denotes the number of credits that will be awarded to each candidate who successfully completes the unit or qualification.

  • 1 credit represents 10 notional learning hours

Notional learning hours represent the amount of time a learner is expected to take, on average, to complete the learning outcomes of the unit to the standard required within the assessment criteria. It is important to note that notional learning hours are not the same as guided learning hours (GLH).GLH represent the hours during which a tutor or trainer is present and contributing to the learning process. Notional learning hours represent the hours which are needed to successfully cover all the learning required to achieve the unit, either guided or independently.

Rules of Combination

Every qualification on the QCF is structured through rules of combination. Rules of combination are important because they define the number of credits which need to be achieved and where these credits must come from in order for a learner to achieve the qualification. Rules of combination also state what the potential is for learners to transfer credits between qualifications and awarding bodies.

The rules of combination for the Assessing and Quality Assuring Qualifications are included in the student support pack.