Which course is right for you?

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, and if you have any further questions, give our Advice & Guidance Centre a call - they'll be happy to hear from you. 

School Leavers:

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 suitable if you enjoy academic study and are considering going on to university, although they are also a good route for moving on to apprenticeships or straight into employment. A-levels provide subject opportunities that you may not have been able to study at GCSE level. They are a Level 3 programme, take two years to complete and are assessed by end of year exams.
You are also encouraged to get involved in one of our Academies to help further develop your studies. Take a look at the A-levels available at Petroc.


Vocational programmes focus on both practical and theoretical elements and are available at Levels 1, 2 or 3.
You will be required to undertake a range of examinations and assessments. You will also be expected to carry out work experience or industry 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 can progress to university, apprenticeships or employment. Discover more about our Vocational courses.


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. They are available from intermediate to degree level. You will need to have suitable employment before embarking on an apprenticeship. Find out more about Apprenticeships. Higher and Degree Apprenticeships are also available.


T-levels are new two-year technical programmes which will be available to study from September 2021. They are Level 3 courses, which are equivalent to studying three A-levels. The programme is made up of a range of components, including concepts and theories, employability skills, numeracy, literacy and digital skills and occupational specialisms.

Learners will also complete approx. 45 days in industry placement, focussing on developing practical and technical skills. Discover how studying T-levels could work for you.

Higher Education:

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. Learn more about our degree programmes.

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. See what Hons degrees we have available for you to 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. Take a look at our Access to HE courses.


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. Find out more about our HNC courses.

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. Take a look at our Higher and Degree Apprenticeships.

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.

Search our Professional Qualifications.

Part-time Courses:

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. Find out how our Essential Skills courses can help you.

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. See what Certificated courses are available to you.

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. Search our Industry courses.

Recreational courses

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

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 course which last just a few hours. Find out how our Distance Learning courses can work for you.

Supported Learning:

Petroc has a specialist Supported Learning department within the mainstream college, which is supported and supervised by experienced tutors and support staff.

Our range of courses ensure that literacy and numeracy are embedded throughout your time here. 

Take a look at the Supported Learning courses available at Petroc.

If you'd like to view all our courses in one place, why not download our interactive guides.

Need further assistance?

Please get in touch with the Advice & Guidance Centre:

  • Barnstaple

    01271 852422

  • Tiverton

    01884 235330