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CIPD Associate Level 5 Diploma 2021 Qualifications Explained

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CIPD Associate Level 5 Diploma: What is it and is it right for me?

The CIPD Associate level 5 diploma in People Management or Organisational Learning & Development are both at the same academic level as an undergraduate degree. The Associate level 5 qualifications sit in the middle tier of three levels which are tailored to your career stage.

Are the CIPD Level 5 Diploma qualifications for me?

Within the level 5 qualifications, you will explore HR or L&D models and practices as well internal and external factors which impact on organisations. You will deepen your understanding of the people profession and learn how to manage and develop the impact of HR/L&D within an organisation and develop strategic thinking.

The CIPD Associate level 5 quals are for HR/L&D Managers or if that is the next step for you. You can skip the CIPD Foundation level 3 Certificate, but you will get much more from the course if you have a couple of year’s HR/L&D experience behind you. Academically, your assignments will be at degree level, so if you have not studied for a while it is good to be aware that it might take a little time to get back into your study groove.

The CIPD Level 5 is a great generalist qualification, you don’t have to tick all of the points below, but they might help you narrow it down:

  • Currently work in HR/L&D management
  • Have responsibility for implementing HR/L&D policies and strategies
  • Aspiring HR/L&D Manager
  • Have a relevant degree or work experience and wish to further develop your career
  • Have studied the CIPD Level 3 Certificate or Diploma
  • Wish to build credibility within the People Management profession.

If you don’t work in HR/L&D and don’t have a relevant degree you can still go straight to the Associate Level 5 qualifications. It is important to think about what you want at the end of the course. If you are applying for your first HR job, like a HR Assistant, then the Foundation Level 3 Certificate will probably give you the skills and confidence you need. You may then find that, once you are settled, your employer will sponsor you to complete the CIPD Level 5.


What skills will I develop during this course?

CIPD Level 5 Diploma is a fantastic generalist qualification, giving you a range of practical skills, which are transferable between different industries and types of organisations. You will gain the opportunity to apply knowledge to your own environment and share ideas with those you are studying with too.
Once you have completed the CIPD Level 5 Diploma you will understand:

  • What it takes to perform as an effective People Professional who adds value to their organisation.
  • The contemporary issues and responsibilities of the HR/L&D department in the ethical functioning of an organisation.
  • Labour market trends and how they impact on different organisations in different contexts.
  • Effective, legal management of the HR cycle from recruitment, section and induction to dismissal, retirement, and redundancy.
  • Talent planning to attract, develop and retain employees in line with resourcing strategies.
  • How data can be used intelligently to draw accurate and meaningful conclusions creating a sustainable, high performance culture.
  • Employment Law to ensure issues including pay, working hours, performance, grievances and restructuring, are dealt with in a fair and legal way.
  • How to effectively build business cases and concise reports on HR/L&D issues.


What topics do the CIPD Associate Level 5 Diploma cover?

Whether you choose the People Management or the Organisational Learning option you will need to complete three core units, three specialist units, plus pick one optional unit. For further information on each check our course pages for CIPD Level 5 People Management or Organisational Learning & Development.

The training centre you choose to study with will impact on which optional modules you can choose from. Some providers will not give you a choice of topics, others will offer more variety.

Core Modules

– Organisational performance and culture in practice (5CO01)
– Evidence-based practice (5CO02)
– Professional behaviours and valuing people (5CO03)

Specialist HR units

– Employment relationship management (5HR01)
– Talent management and workforce planning (5HR02)
– Reward for performance and contribution (5HR03)

Specialist Learning & Development units

– Supporting self-directed and social learning (5LD01)
– Learning and development design to create value (5LD02)
– Facilitate personalised and performance focused learning (5LD03)

Optional HR units

– Specialist employment law (5OS01)
– Advances in digital learning and development (5OS02)
– Learning and development essentials (5OS03)
– People management in an international context (5OS04)
– Diversity and inclusion (5OS05)
– Leadership and management development (5OS06)
– Well-being at work (5OS07)

Optional Learning & Development units

– Specialist employment law (5OS01)
– Advances in digital learning and development (5OS02)
– People management in an international context (5OS04)
– Diversity and inclusion (5OS05)
– Leadership and management development (5OS06)
– Well-being at work (5OS07)

There are rules of combination which mean there are certain modules which can’t be taken together. These rules are set by the CIPD but the training provider you choose will be able to help with this. To find out more about the modules Acacia offer, visit our CIPD Level 5 HR or L&D course pages.


How much do the CIPD Level 5 qualifications cost?

The cost of the course will depend on how you wish to study (online or classroom) and who you wish to study with. A CIPD Level 5 Diploma can cost between £2,500 and £5,000. Some further education colleges and universities will be slightly cheaper if you are paying for the course yourself as they do not have to pay VAT. However, if your company is paying for the course, they will be able to claim the VAT back.

Elearning study will often be the cheapest option as the costs to deliver it are significantly lower than classroom or live online learning. Consider what you want to get from the qualification, what is included and how you learn best before deciding which option delivers the best value for money for you.

If you are funding your own training, some providers offer monthly interest-free instalment plans to help you to manage the cost of the course. If you are currently working in HR, consider asking your employer whether they will sponsor you or contribute to the course fees. Talk to one of our Course Advisors for advice on how to make your case for funding.

How long does it take?

Depending on how you choose to study the Diploma will take from 8 to 16 months of part-time study. Most people choose the level 5 Diploma as it covers the range of topics employers will expect you to have as a people professional. Further to this, the Associate Diploma gives you CIPD professional membership and the designation CIPD to use after your name on your CV and Linkedin profile.

How will I be assessed?

Each of the modules has a written assessment which is between 2,500 and 4,000 words and each one is broken down into learning outcomes. The CIPD Level 5 Diploma is a pass or fail course so you will not receive a grade for your work. You do however need to show in your assignment that you have met all the learning objectives for that module. You will be able to resubmit an assignment once if you have not met all the criteria. Your centre should give you detailed written feedback telling you exactly which parts of the assignment have not quite met the brief. A good question to ask before you sign up with a centre is what support you will get if you do fail an assignment.

Your training centre or university will mark your written assessments before they are internally moderated. Every centre will also have at least one visit from the CIPD each year (depending on their size) to check quality standards are being maintained. The CIPD have ranked Acacia Learning with an equivalent rating to Ofsted’s outstanding. Find out what our current learners think about studying with us >

Some centres will also offer a CIPD competency assessment for professionals with more experience.

Entry requirements

Although there are no formal entry requirements to study the CIPD Associate level 5 qualifications, you should have at least one of the following:

• some experience in a HR role
• line management or office management experience
• an undergraduate degree and the academic confidence to take a higher level of study than the CIPD Foundation level 3 qualifications.

To complete this training course, you will have to complete written assignments in English. If English is not your first language, we recommend you have an ESOL Level 2 or IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

What is the CIPD Associate Level 5 Diploma equivalent to?

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) places the CIPD’s intermediate qualification at Level 5, so it is internationally recognised as an undergraduate degree level qualification.


Who can I study with?

The CIPD have approved several universities, colleges, and private providers to deliver qualifications, but which options centres are approved to deliver will vary. Some relevant university undergraduate degrees come with CIPD accreditation at Level 5. These will often be a slightly different version of the qualification than you will receive from a private provider. Private providers often target those who are already in work and need more flexible study options than a university or college can provide.

Online or classroom study

There are lots of options of how to study for your CIPD qualifications. You should consider your learning style before deciding which is the best option for you.

CIPD Online study

Many online CIPD providers have taken a very traditional e-learning approach which is highly self-directed and individual. There are also ‘live-online’ options which focus more on webinars to develop understanding. Some providers will use these minimally and the webinars will be open to very large groups. Other providers will choose to keep groups small to maximise interaction and discussion. Make sure you ask your online provider what learning with them would look like and that it matches how you best learn.

CIPD Classroom study

Face-to-face workshops will often give you the chance to apply and share learning with others as well as benefit from the experience of your lecturer. The quality and quantity of workshops will vary considerably between different providers. Important questions to ask include:

• The number and frequency of workshops
• The qualifications and experience of the tutors
• How many students will be in each group?

Many classroom-based courses will include an element of blended learning. A blended learning course will mean you are expected to do some independent learning alongside your classroom sessions. Before you choose a provider ask what extra resources, they will provide you with to support your independent learning.

What jobs will the CIPD Level 5 in HR Management qualify me for?

Some of the roles the Associate level 5 Diploma qualifications will prepare you for include:

• HR Business Partner or Manager
• People Analyst
• Employee Relations Manager
• Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
• Resourcing Business Partner
• Reward and benefits Manager
• Talent Manager roles
• L&D Manager or Consultant
• Organisational Development roles

Being CIPD qualified is often a prerequisite for roles in the HR and people management field. Often being able to demonstrate that you are working towards achieving the qualification is enough to progress into a new role. The nature of the qualification means that you will be able to apply learning within a work context as soon as you start the course.

There is a huge variation in pay within HR/L&D depending on the size of company, industry and location. PayScale put the average pay for a HR manager at over £40,000 in London but this could go as high as £62,252 plus bonuses.


What is next after the CIPD Level 5?

Once you have completed your CIPD Level 5 Certificate or Diploma you can move onto either a CIPD Level 7 qualification or a Master’s in Human Resource Management. A Level 7 qualification normally takes about two years of part-time study. If you’re not sure about how the different CIPD levels slot together checkout our blog post on CIPD Levels 3, 5 & 7 Explained.



What is the CIPD?

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) is a registered charity which aims to improve working life through good practice in human resources and learning and develop. They set the standard for HR professionals across the world, provide research and guidance and act as an awarding body for qualifications.


How does CIPD membership work?

Completing your level 5 Diploma leads to Associate membership of the CIPD. Associate membership is the second level of professional membership and allows you to use Assoc CIPD after your name. Professional membership of the CIPD not only shows your commitment to the professional standards but gives you access to a wealth of resources and networking events. Read our blog: CIPD membership 2021 explained.


Who we are?

Acacia Learning is an approved CIPD centre. This family run business has delivered professional qualifications for 14 years and currently has a offices in London and a team of 45 fabulous tutors. Find out more about Our Story and Training courses.

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