The College of West Anglia

Which route is right for me?

At the college we offer three main routes:


If you aren’t quite ready for the workplace, but you have a good idea which career you would like, vocational courses offer industry-recognised qualifications. This means you can either go straight into work after you finish, or progress on to study at university.


If you are keen to start work, but require some extra training, an apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to continue learning whilst being employed. You can even study to become an expert in your field with university level higher apprenticeships.


If you aren’t sure which career path you would like to take, A-levels allow you to study a range of subjects and keep your options open. They are one of the main routes to university, alongside vocational courses.

Introduction to Qualifications

Choosing the right course and level can be confusing; our simple guide will help you make the right decision and appropriate course for you.

Most of our courses are available at different levels and your GCSE results will usually determine which level you start at. However, some subject areas (ie. hairdressing, catering & hospitality and motor vehicle) require you to start at level one or two, even if you have the results to study at level three.

Entry Level Courses

These are for students moslty with grade 1 at GCSE

Level 1 Courses

These are for students moslty with grade 2/3 at GCSE

Level 2 Courses

These are for students with four or more GCSEs at grade 3 or higher

Level 3 Courses

These are for students with five or more GCSEs at grade 4 or higher

For more information on how to apply, click here.

Entry to University

Studying a level 3 vocational course is the equivalent of studying 3 A-levels and both qualifications can give up to 168 UCAS points.

Entry to study at university is worked out on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) points system. Points are given to your final grades after you have completed either A-levels or a vocational course.

When applying to university please check the amount of UCAS points you require to study a specific course and at a specific university.

CWA sends more students on to university that any other institution in West Norfolk and Fenland. Each year more than 300 students progress to higher level courses at universities across the country.

144 UCAS points

= Level 3 Diploma (Distinction, Distinction, Distinction)
= A-Levels (A, A, A)

112 UCAS points

= Level 3 Diploma (Distinction, Merit, Merit)
= A-Levels (B, B, C)

96 UCAS points

= Level 3 Diploma (Merit, Merit, Merit)
= A-Levels (C, C, C)

Study Programmes

A study programme combines all the different elements that make up your timetable at college. It is designed to meet your individual needs and will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to achieve your goals.

We work hard to make sure our study programmes prepare you for your next step – whether that’s university, employment or an apprenticeship.

Each study programme is made up of the following elements:


The main qualification you achieve will be linked to your chosen subject area and will usually be a diploma or certificate at the level you are studying e.g. Level 2 Diploma in Agriculture.


You will take part in work experience while at college enabling you to put your learning to the test, pick up new skills and gain real-world experience.


Maths and English are essential to your future employment, so if you haven’t achieved a GCSE grade 4 or higher you will continue to study maths and/or English at college.


There’s a wide range of enrichment activities and support through iCWA, helping you to become more motivated and gain the necessary skills to take into the work-place.


If you are aged 19 or older

Learners aged 19 or older can study many of our vocational study programmes and apprenticeships. However, we also have Return to Learning courses that are specifically designed for people aged 19 or older to get the qualifications they need to access a degree. We also offer higher education degrees as part of our University Centre West Anglia provision for those aged 18 and over.


We offer different courses for over 19s who want to go onto study or improve their confindence. From Routes to Learning, to Pre-Access courses and Access to Higher Education courses. They all aim to provide you with the study skills you need to prepare you towards further or higher education. For more information click here.


Vocational study programmes are the majority of courses available at CWA. Some people refer to these as ‘BTECs’ or ‘City and Guilds’ or ‘NVQs’ or ‘Diplomas’, but they all mean the same thing – students gain practical skills and qualifications in a specific area, allowing them to be ready for work.

Students can also progress onto university after studying a vocational study programme – 95% of higher education institutions accept students who have studied a level 3 vocational study programme, including Russell Group universities, a group of 24 leading UK universities.

We offer vocational study programmes in many areas – see all of the areas on offer here.


Apprenticeships offer learners the chance to earn while they learn. Skills and qualifications are gained through a structured programme of practical work and classroom study. Apprentices spend the majority of their time at work and attend college on either a day release or block basis. Find out more about apprenticeships here.


Higher education courses, such as foundation degrees, higher national diplomas (HND) and degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BSc), are level 4 and level 5 qualifications. A full BA or BSc lasts for three years, if studied full-time, or six years, if studied part-time, whilst HNDs usually last for one or two years. Find out more about our HE provision with University Centre West Anglia.