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GSCE Entrance and Its Requirements

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As the GCSE exam has replaced GCE O level and CSE, most colleges and professional institutions will require the corresponding GCSE equivalents, illustrated by the following table of grades:

Grade 1 CSE passes are regarded as equivalent to Grade C GCSE/GCE 0 level. Two AS levels generally count as one 'A' level. An intermediate level GNVQ is equivalent to four GCSE passes grades A C, while an advanced GNVQ is equivalent to two 'A' levels.

Degree and Dip HE Courses

Most colleges will expect students to have five GCE/GCSE passes, including two at 'A' level. They will probably require your GCSE/ GCE levels to be Grade C or better. Other acceptable qualifications are:
  • GCE in four subjects with three at A level
  • Scottish Certificate of Education with passes in three subjects, including three at Higher level
  • Scottish Certificate of Education with passes in four subjects at Higher level
  • BTEC/SCOTVEC National Certificate, Diploma or Higher National Diploma, or the equivalent qualifications
  • Other equivalent qualifications see college prospectus for details or write to the Admissions Tutor at the college asking for information.
There may be specific course requirements for entry to the course you want to take. Courses in business studies normally require GCSE/GCE 0 level mathematics and often 0 level English language or equivalent. Courses with language content (particularly French) will ask for an appropriate language qualification.

University Entrance

The Official Guide (Association of Commonwealth Universities), which should be in your local reference library or school careers library, will give you information about all university courses. Information about requirements for other advanced courses is given briefly in A Compendium of Advanced Courses in Colleges of Further and Higher Education, published by the Regional Advisory Councils in England and Wales and available from the London and South Eastern Regional (LASER) Advisory Council for Further Education.

Be sure to use the most recent edition of these books, and then check with the college prospectus. The requirements are the minimum needed to qualify so, when a course is very popular, the standard may be considerably higher. Brian Heap's Degree Course Offers (Trot man), which should be in the reference library, lists the various offers made to candidates applying for degree courses at UK universities and polytechnics.

Conditional offers from universities are made before examination results are known. Slight variations between the A level grades requested and those achieved (E.g. ACD rather than BCC) are acceptable to most universities, although they may demand an A or B in the main subject.

Scottish Degree Courses

Courses normally require at least five Scottish Certificate of Education passes with three at higher level, or equivalent.

Foundation Courses

Many colleges prefer students to have taken a foundation course before embarking on a degree course in art and design.

These may last for one or two years, depending on your age when you begin. Normally, students who take a one year course are at least 17 and have five GCSE/GCE O level passes at Grade C or better. For a two year course, beginning a year earlier at 16, three GCSE passes may be acceptable, and students continue to study for GCSE examinations during the first year.

Art and Design Degree Courses

Normal minimum requirements are one of the following:
  • GCE/GCSE passes in five subjects, including two subjects at 'A' level
  • GCE/GCSE passes in four subjects including three at 'A' level
  • A Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) with passes in five subjects, of which three are at the Higher (H) grade
  • An SCE with passes in four subjects, all at H grade
  • BTEC/SCOTVEC National Certificate or Diploma at a good standard
  • The satisfactory completion of a full time foundation course in art and design of not less than one year, together with one of the following:
  • GCE passes in five subjects at 0 level or GCSE equivalent
  • GCE/GCSE passes in four subjects including one at 'A' level
  • Equivalent qualifications.
Selection is also based on portfolio inspection and/or personal interview. Colleges can admit small numbers of students who do not have the stipulated academic qualifications if they feel that the student has creative ability, although the foundation course is felt to be the best way to test this.

BTEC Courses

BTEC First Awards - Students must be 16 years of age and have left school No formal exam passes are needed but they must satisfy the college that they have the potential to benefit from the course.

BTEC National Awards

In addition to the above requirements, students must have at least one of the following:
  • A BTEC First Award
  • CPVE
  • Four GCSE/GCE O level passes at Grade C or better
  • Four CSE Grade 1 passes
  • A qualification which BTEC accepts as equivalent to any of the above, such as a Foundation program with appropriate attainments.
Colleges may admit students of 19 and over without the minimum entry requirements but with relevant experience. Their details must be sent in to BTEC when they are registered.

BTEC Higher National Awards

You must normally be 18 years of age. For courses in Design, selection is normally by interview and centers will ask to see examples of previous work as evidence of imagination and potential. You must also have at least one of the following:
  • BTEC National Award
  • Suitable A/AS level passes
  • Any other qualification accepted by BTEC as equivalent.
Students over the age of 21 may be accepted without the minimum entry requirements, provided that BTEC is notified when they register.

Conversion Courses

Colleges can arrange bridging studies or a conversion program for GCE A level entrants who wish to take a BTEC course.


BTEC NVQ and GNVQ (level 2) awards are gradually replacing GCSE A levels and BTEC First Awards. GNVQ (level 3) will replace BTEC National Awards.

Scottish Vocational Qualifications

These are designed for people at all stages of their careers, and no formal educational qualifications are required.

National Certificate

Students must be at least 16 years old. National Certificate modules can be combined with ordinary grade, standard grade and higher grade studies.

Higher National Certificate or Diploma

Students must have either:
  • completed an appropriate National certificate program in relevant interdisciplinary studies, or equivalent; or
  • obtained an appropriate group of SCE O and H grade passes or GCSE/GCE O level and A level passes or equivalent; or
  • Other equivalent qualifications at the colleges' discretion.
CAM Foundation Courses

Candidates must register with CAM before enrolling at a college. To be allowed to sit the exam in June, candidates must be registered by 31 January; to sit the exam in November (Certificate only), they must be registered by 31 July. Entry forms for the examinations must be completed and returned with the appropriate fee by the last day of February for the June exam, and by the last day of August for the November exam (Certificate only). See Chapter 6 for further details.

Certificate Courses

Students must satisfy CAM entry requirements for the Certificate, or qualify for an exemption. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and have achieved at least an O level pass in English and one of the following (or EC equivalent) levels of education:
  • A degree from a recognized university
  • A BTEC/SCOTVEC/OND/C in Business Studies
  • Two GCE A levels and three GCE/GCSE passes, grades A, B or C
  • Five GCE/GCSE passes, grades A, B or C, and have relevant employment for at least one year
  • Fewer than five GCE/GCSE passes plus at least three years'
  • Relevant work experience.
Those educated outside the EC must have, as a minimum, the equivalent of UK GCE 'A' level passes. Candidates without any of the prescribed qualifications may apply for registration if they have completed either The London Chamber of Commerce or Industry Third Level Group Diploma in Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations or a CAM recognized foundation course.

Diploma Courses

Diploma candidates must hold, or be exempted from, all six subjects of the CAM Certificate. If they have passed four subjects they may register for the Diploma provided they sit the remaining two Certificate examinations concurrently.

Chartered Institute of Marketing Courses

All students must be registered with the Institute before they can enter for the examinations.

CIM Certificate

You must be at least 18 and have one of the following qualifications:
  • Four GCE/GCSE (or equivalent) passes at Grade C or better, plus one at A level, and proficiency in English and mathematics
  • Five GCE/GCSE (or equivalent) passes at Grade C or better, and proficiency in English and mathematics, with at least one year of full time marketing work experience
  • The Scottish Certificate of Education or the Northern Ireland General Certificate of Education
  • BTEC/SCOTVEC National Awards
  • Applicants aged over 21 may be registered if alternatively they have at least three years' approved full time experience and the support of their employer.
CIM Diploma

You should have one of the following:
  • CIM Certificate in Marketing/Sales Management/Sales Management Practice/Marketing Management Practice
  • A postgraduate Diploma in Marketing or Management Studies or other business related subject
  • Any other degree, provided you have at least six months' marketing work experience and have passed the two subjects in the graduate entry program
  • An approved BTEC/SCOTVEC Higher Award in Business Studies and Finance which includes a CIM approved marketing option
  • Any other recognized equivalent qualifications which may be approved.
Partial exemptions may also be possible
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