Progression 6 > 7 > 8


At TU Dublin, we are proud to welcome a diverse student body from a wide variety of backgrounds. We foster and embrace students with different abilities, dreams and talents, and allow them to come together to look at future world challenges from unique viewpoints, bringing with them their own lived experience to university.

TU Dublin provides a unique range of disciplines and programmes, with opportunities to study at all levels from apprenticeship to PhD. We offer progression opportunities ranging from level 6 (Higher Certificate) to level 8 (Honours Degree) and onwards.

TU Dublin welcomes students from a variety of pathways, some coming straight from leaving certificate, some from FET or QQI programmes while others come through the mature student route. One thing these students all have in common is the vast range of options available to them. When applying to TU Dubin via the CAO for the first time there are three levels to consider:

  • Level 6 Higher Certificate (normally 2 years, full- time)
  • Level 7 Ordinary Degree (normally 3 years, full-time)
  • Level 8 Honours Degree (normally 4 years, full-time)

On the CAO students can apply for up to 20 courses – ten on the level 8 list and ten on the level 6/7 list. If students only complete the level 8 list on the CAO, and skip the level 6/7 list, they will, in effect, half their chances of getting an offer of a college course. There are many benefits to including level 6 and 7 courses in your CAO choices. Firstly, the points are often less than their level 8 equivalent. Secondly, successful completion of a level 6 or 7 course can lead to advanced entry into year 2 or 3 of a linked level 8 course within the university. Another plus is that Level 6 and 7 courses tend to be shorter in duration (2/3 years), which can be useful if a student is undecided on their course choice and don’t want to commit to a four-year Honours Degree course from the outset.


Here are some scenarios to help you understand how this works.


Image of male student on phone

Paul has been chatting to his friends’ older brother who works in the marketing department of a large multinational company here in Ireland. He really likes the sound of the job; he is a creative person but wants to work in business so he thinks this is the career for him. The company run a graduate programme and take students with an honours degree qualification, Paul sets his heart on the Level 8 marketing degree at TU Dublin because he knows this will get him where he wants to go.

Paul is feeling confident when the leaving cert results are about to be issued. He knows he needs around 418 points and 3 H5s to get on to the programme. However, the results come out and while he has enough points for the course, he has missed 3 H5 grades by a fraction. Paul is disappointed, but he took his guidance counsellors advice and filled out all options on his CAO so he wonders what he might be offered.

In his CAO offer, Paul has been offered his 6th choice at level 8, but his first choice at level 6/7. The level 8 is in an area that he is not that interested in, but he can see he has been offered his first choice at level 6 – the level 6 marketing programme at TU Dublin. This is not exactly what he was hoping for, but he has decided to find out more about his options if he takes this. Paul remembers his guidance counsellor explaining that he could move up but he had been so focused on getting the level 8 programme that he hadn’t paid that much attention to it at the time.

He talks to the admissions team who advise him that if he keeps a grade average of 55% or above over the two years he can move automatically into third year of the level 8 programme and finish his college career with a level 8 in marketing. Paul is delighted he can now see a clear pathway to get what he wants.


Image of female student wearing a lab coat, using science equipmentGemma has been crazy about science ever since she got a chemistry set for Christmas when she was 9; she has been hooked on all things science ever since then. She has been thinking about her career options for when she leaves school; Gemma’s mother is a Garda and has been trying to encourage her along the same path but, while she does have lots of interest in this, her first love is science.

Gemma’s Guidance Counsellor suggests working in the area of forensic science. Gemma has a read about the area and is immediately sold; its everything she wants in a career. She checks out the options and decides she wants to student DNA and forensic science at TU Dublin, a course which is available at both level 7 and level 8. Gemma works hard for her leaving cert, but unfortunately falls short of the points she needs for both the level 8 and the level 7. She earned 382 in her leaving cert but she needed at least 390. Gemma thinks about repeating her leaving certificate, but she really doesn’t want to do that so instead she looks into the QQI route. She can see that TU Dublin reserve some places on each of their programmes for QQI students so she decided to pursue this route.

Gemma takes up a science-based QQI programme, she loves it so much she finds it easy to get 6 distinctions in the programme. She applies to CAO again this time with her QQI results, she adds both the level 7 and level 8 to the form and is hopeful to take either. On assessment of her QQI results she is offered a place on the level 8, Gemma is delighted and immediately accepts her place; it has taken her a little bit longer than she initially planned but she also feels much more prepared for the programme.


Progression from Levels 5 to 8 explained

The Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a 10-level, single national entity through which all learning achievements may be measured and related to each other. Underpinned by quality assurance principles, the Irish NFQ describes qualifications in the Irish education and training system and sets out what each qualification says about what learners know, understand and are able to do. It also sets out qualifications pathways from one NFQ level to the next.

This "ladder system" of progression between courses provides opportunities for students to progress from Higher Certificate to Ordinary Bachelor Degree and on to Honours Bachelor Degree and Postgraduate levels and many of our students who begin on a Higher Certificate go on to successfully graduate with Honours or Postgraduate degrees.

Diagram showing how NFQ works