Something for everyone

Shrewsbury Colleges Group offers a wide range of subjects and has a qualification or course for you, whatever your situation. We offer academic excellence at our Welsh and English Bridge campuses and vocational excellence at our London Road Campus.

No matter what level you are at, we will have something appropriate for you, whether that be A Levels, Vocational Diplomas, Higher Education, Apprenticeships, GCSEs in Maths and English, or our Preparation Route Programmes. We also offer a broad range of part-time courses for those wishing to develop a skill or hobby. The jargon can be confusing, so below we have aimed to explain what the various qualifications are. Please contact us or attend our next Advice Event if we can help clarify this further.
Choices vary with different levels but you can choose to study:

  • A Levels
  • Vocational subjects (sometimes combined with A Levels)
  • Subjects on a full-time or part-time basis
  • Apprenticeships
  • Higher / degree level courses

A Levels

A Levels will suit you if you perform well in exams, you want to study a range of subjects or if you know that you want to follow a particular career path or study a particular subject at university. A Levels are two-year courses and are mostly assessed by exams at the end of the two years although some A Levels include coursework.

We offer the widest choice of A Levels in the county allowing you to choose from 35 A Levels, to make your study programme, which will normally consist of three A Levels.

If you have achieved mainly grade 7+/A+ at GCSE you may want to consider studying four A Levels to stretch yourself or to improve your chances of winning a place at a competitive university or on competitive courses. If you want to study A Level Further Maths you have to also study A Level Maths and an additional two A Levels.

One of the advantages of our A Level programme is that as one of the largest A Level colleges in the country you will be able to study any combination of three subjects - you won’t find that your choices are restricted at the last minute because of timetable changes. After you apply to study with us you will receive a one-to-one advice and guidance interview to discuss your choices with you to make sure that they best meet your strengths and plans for the future. There are a small number of combinations of subjects which are not allowed by exam boards.


BTECs are high-quality, career-focused qualifications grounded in the real world of work. BTEC courses focus on skills-based learning and are designed around themed units. Rather than testing everything together at the end, BTECs are tested throughout the course using assessments based on real-life scenarios. This practical approach allows BTEC learners to develop and apply the knowledge and skills that employers and universities are looking for.

If you want to continue into higher education, you’ll need to achieve enough UCAS points to qualify for entry into your preferred university. You will secure these with your BTEC qualification, and may also choose to study a BTEC Higher National Certificate (equivalent to the first year of a degree) or Higher National Diploma (equivalent to the first two years of a degree) before progressing to a full degree.

Vocational courses give you the knowledge, skills, work experience and qualifications to progress to a higher education course at university or at college, to an Apprenticeship or into full-time employment. They will also provide you with employability skills that will give you a head start in your chosen career.

Our vocational courses are mainly taught at our London Road Campus, but Art vocational courses are all taught at the English Bridge Campus. Depending on your achievement in GCSE and equivalent qualifications you will start your course at Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3. However, for some trades, everyone starts at Level 1 or Level 2 regardless of your qualifications as you will need to build up your skills before progressing to an advanced level.

Extended Diplomas are two-year courses which allow you to progress to higher education or a job. They are worth three A Levels and are valued highly by both universities and employers. You will need to have achieved the entry requirements for the course, typically four GCSEs at grades 4-9/C+, though individual subjects have different specific requirements.

In a limited number of subjects, mainly Engineering or Health and Social Care you can combine vocational qualifications at Level 3 with an A Level (Maths or Biology respectively) or one or two vocational subjects at Level 2.

Entry / Level 1

Equivalent to BTEC Introductory Diploma and NVQ Level 1
These courses are normally for one year and are suitable if you have finished school with few or no formal qualifications and may have extra study or support needs. You can progress to a Level 1 course in your chosen area. Entry criteria grades 3 - 1.

Level 2

Equivalent to 4 or 5 GCSEs, NVQ Level 2 or BTEC First Diploma
Usually, one year and are suitable if you have achieved some GCSEs at grades D-G or have passed a Level 1 qualification. Entry criteria grade 3.

Level 3

Equivalent to A Level, BTEC National Diploma or NVQ Level 3
Normally taken over two years and are suitable if you have gained four or more GCSEs at grade C or above or have passed a Level 2 qualification with overall merit or distinction. Entry criteria grades 4.

Level 4 / Level 5

Equivalent to HNC, HND, Foundation degree
This is a higher level qualification and during year 2 of a Level 3 course, you may work towards units of a Level 4 qualification with the option of continuing with this the following year. Many students do progress from a Level 3 course to a HE course.

NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications)

Based on an area of work and the skills needed to do a specific job within that area. They are available at Levels 1-5 and assess the competency and knowledge required to do a particular job. NVQs can be studied full-time in subjects such as Hairdressing and Catering, where the College can provide a realistic working environment. NVQs are also available through work-based learning, where students split their time between college and work, perhaps on an Apprenticeship programme.

Professional Industry-recognised qualifications

A range of well-respected and widely-recognised qualifications are offered in professions such as Accountancy, Administration, Beauty Therapy, Catering, Childcare, Construction, Hairdressing and Teaching. These courses are often available from Level 2 to Level 6 and include AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), and CACHE (The Council for Awards in Children's Care and Education).


These work-based learning courses give you the opportunity to earn money with an employer whilst attending college. View the occupational areas we offer apprenticeships in.

Preparation Routes

There is a range of Pre-entry programmes for young people who need more time to explore their options and develop Maths/English and communication skills. These routes prepare you for both full-time studies, employment and Apprenticeships. The core subject is employability skills and based on individual circumstances and interests can include time in a variety of vocational subjects working to awards where appropriate.

More details on Preparation Routes here