Types of qualifications

Petroc offers qualifications to suit everyone - from A-levels to degrees and recreational courses to distance learning.

Whether you're a school leaver, a mature learner or someone who wants to learn a new skill or hobby, we will help you on your journey to go further in life.

Take a look at the information below about the types of courses we offer, and if you have any further questions, give our Advice & Guidance Centre a call - they'll be happy to hear from you.

Helpful advice for:

If you are aged 16-18, there are lots of options for you to choose from, which can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. Here is an outline of the four main paths available to you to help you decide:


A-levels are a Level 3 programme and are suitable if you enjoy academic study and are considering going on to university. There’s a huge range of subjects that you can study - many of which may not have been available to you at GCSE level. Alongside your classroom study, you will also be encouraged to get involved in one of our Academies to help further develop your knowledge of your chosen subject. You can take up to three A-levels, they take two years to complete and are assessed by end of year exams.


Vocational programmes are available at Levels 1, 2 or 3 and blend practical learning and classroom learning. You will also be expected to carry out work experience or industrial placements. Level 1 and 2 courses last for one year, but you can usually progress onto a higher level upon completion. Level 3 vocational courses usually run for two years and are equivalent to three A-levels. You will be required to undertake a range of exams and assessments during your course and, depending on the level completed, you could progress on to university, an apprenticeship, employment or a higher-level vocational course.


Apprenticeships are available from Level 2 all the way up to degree level. Apprenticeships are a great way to earn while you learn by receiving a salary whilst also studying at college. An apprenticeship is a genuine job with an accompanying skills and knowledge development programme. It gives you the perfect combination of hands-on experience whilst understanding behaviours expected at work. On completion, you could move onto a higher level apprenticeship or move into permanent employment.


T-levels are a two-year qualification that are suitable for Level 3 learners who want a more practical, employer-led study programme. They offer a mixture of classroom learning and an industry placement of at least 315 hours.

They are an ideal course if you want to gain the knowledge and experience to go into employment, an apprenticeship or higher education. A T-level is equivalent to three A-levels.

For those looking to take their education that one step further, our range of degree programmes will help you in the right direction. Our degree courses offer great flexibility enabling you to study full-time or part-time.

Foundation Degrees

These are equivalent to studying the first two years of an Honours Degree. They are designed to combine academic study with skills required in the workplace. Most courses can be studied for two years full-time, or three years part-time. Assessment is via exams, essays, presentations and practical work. Once completed, you can undertake a full degree at Petroc, Plymouth or another university.

Honours Degrees

The Honours degrees available at Petroc are for anyone who has completed a Foundation Degree in a relevant subject. Your assessment will include a dissertation or special project in the final year of study.

Access to Higher Education

Access to HE courses help learners prepare for higher-level study, particularly if you don't have the grades you need to study a degree. These courses are specifically designed for learners aged 19 or over and are recognised by universities as an alternative to A-level entry.


HNCs focus on learning by doing and teach very specific skills relating to a particular job. Many students progress straight on to a career in their chosen industry or use as a stepping stone to a relevant degree.

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships allow you to earn while you learn. They are an increasingly popular way to gain hands-on experience, a salary and the opportunity to train while you work. You will need to have suitable employment before embarking on an apprenticeship.

Professional Qualifications

We offer the following professionally-focussed qualifications:

  • Chartered Management Institute (CMI) courses are for professional managers.
  • Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) courses are suitable for individuals working in Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D). CIPD qualifications are highly sought after by employers and frequently referenced in job advertisements.
  • The Certificate in Education is the main professional qualification for teachers who require the necessary knowledge and skills for a teaching career. This qualification is delivered over two years on a part-time basis in partnership with the University of Plymouth.

Our range of part-time courses can help you improve your qualifications and enhance your job opportunities while also juggling your career and/or home life.

Essential Skills

Our Essential Skills courses offer Entry Level Maths and English as well as other employability skills such as ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to help you get back into training or employment.

Part-time Certificated courses

Certificated courses can support your workplace development and as such offer great flexibility, enabling you to work and study at the same time.

Industry qualifications

Industry short courses usually run over a few days and are ideal if you want to boost your career or need to refresh your knowledge. There are generally no entry requirements for these courses.

Recreational courses

Recreational courses are suitable for anyone who wants to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. Courses usually run for one day a week for several weeks.

Distance Learning

Distance Learning courses are for anyone who is unable to access our college campuses or needs greater flexibility for studying. You will still get support from your tutor and access to learning resources, but you will be able to study at a time that suits you. We offer courses that run from 16 to 26 weeks, as well as bitesize courses which last just a few hours.

Need further assistance?

Please get in touch with the Advice & Guidance Centre:

North Devon
01271 852422
Mid Devon
01884 235330