AQF levels and training time-frames

Peter Strempel

This page offers a more detailed explanation of Australian Qualifications Framework qualifications and suggested duration in hours for accredited training programmes

Note that only the first five levels are part of the Vocational and Education and Training system. Level six includes an Advanced Diploma and an Associate Degree. Normally the first can be taught through the VET system, while the second is a university qualification. The other levels are purely the domain of the tertiary education sector, and are conducted quite differently from VET training.

 

AQF LEVEL

QUALIFICATION

SUMMARY

1 Certificate I
  • Foundational knowledge for everyday life, further learning, and preparation for initial work.
  • Foundational cognitive, technical, and communication skills to enable candidate to undertake defined routine activities, and to identify and report simple issues or problems.
2 Certificate II
  • Basic factual, technical and procedural knowledge of a defined area of work and learning.
  • Basic cognitive, technical and communication skills to apply appropriate methods, tools, materials and readily available information to undertake defined activities as well as offer solutions to a limited range of predictable problems.
3 Certificate III
  • Factual, technical, procedural and some theoretical knowledge of a specific area of work and learning.
  • A range of cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply a specialised range of methods, tools, materials, and information to complete routine activities, and to offer solutions to predictable and sometimes unpredictable problems.
4 Certificate IV
  • Broad factual, technical and some theoretical knowledge of a specific area or a broad field of work and learning.
  • A broad range of cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply a range of methods, tools, materials, and information to: complete routine and non-routine activities; and offer solutions to a variety of predictable and sometimes unpredictable problems.
5 Diploma
  • Technical and theoretical knowledge in a specific area or a broad field of work and learning.
  • A broad range of cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply methods and technologies to:
    • analyse information to complete a range of activities;
    • offer solutions to sometimes complex problems: and
    • transfer information and skills to others.
6 Advanced Diploma
Associate Degree
  • Broad theoretical and technical knowledge of a specific area or a broad field of work and learning.
  • A broad range of cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply methods and technologies to:
    • analyse information to complete a range of activities;
    • develop and offer solutions to unpredictable and sometimes complex problems; and
    • transfer information and skills to others.
7 Bachelor’s Degree
  • Broad and coherent theoretical and technical knowledge with depth in one or more disciplines or areas of practice
  • Well-developed cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply methods and technologies to:
    • analyse and evaluate information to complete a range of activities;
    • analyse, generate and offer solutions to unpredictable and sometimes complex problems; and
    • transfer knowledge, skills, and ideas to others.
8 Graduate Certificate
Graduate Diploma
Honours
  • Advanced theoretical and technical knowledge in one or more disciplines or areas of practice.
  • Advanced cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply methods and technologies to:
    • critically analyse, evaluate, and transform information to complete a range of activities;
    • analyse, develop, and offer solutions to address complex problems; and
    • transfer knowledge, skills, and ideas to others.
9 Master’s Degree
  • Advanced and integrated understanding of a complex body of knowledge in one or more disciplines or areas of practice.
  • Expert, specialised cognitive and technical skills in a body of knowledge or practice to independently:
    • critically analyse, reflect on, and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts, and theories;
    • research and apply established theories to a body of knowledge or practice; and
    • interpret and transfer knowledge, skills, and ideas to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
10 Doctoral Degree
PhD
  • Systemic and critical understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge at the frontier of a discipline or area of professional practice.
  • Expert specialised cognitive, technical, and research skills in a knowledge domain to independently and systematically:
    • engage in critical reflection, synthesis, and evaluation;
    • develop, adapt, and implement research methodologies to extend and re-define existing knowledge or professional practice;
    • disseminate and promote new insights to peers and other audiences; and
    • generate original knowledge and understanding to make a substantial contribution to a professional discipline or area of practice.
Based on information from the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Training programme durations

The following are suggestions by the Australian Skills Quality Authority in its Users Guide for Registered Training Organisations.

  • Certificate I and II: 600-1200 hours over six months to a year.
  • Certificate III: 1200-2400 hours over one to two years.
  • Certificate IV: 600-2400 hours over six months to two years.
  • Diploma: 1200-2400 hours over one to two years.
  • Advanced Diploma: 1800-2400 hours over 18 months to two years.
  • Graduate Certificate: 600-1200 hours over six months to a year.
  • Graduate Diploma: 1200-2400 hours over one to two years.

This guideline does not imply continuous study or contact hours, but the recommended duration for completing private and contact study sessions, knowledge questions, assignments, and practicals, where these may apply.

Some courses might be entirely online, others entirely by face-to-face instruction, and still others by a mixture of both.

Particularly dedicated students may well complete coursework significantly quicker than the hours or months specified; the guidelines merely imply that many adult students may have private and work commitments that make it equitable to permit the full suggested completion period.