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CIPD Levels 3, 5 and 7 Explained

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The new CIPD qualifications still provide a grounding for your career in the People Profession. The CIPD Levels are each designed to support progression at different points in your career but which is the right one for you?

The CIPD have launched their new 2021 qualifications. In this blog we explore the changes, CIPD levels and different routes through.

Past CIPD Qualifications

If you have completed or are currently studying on a CIPD course, your qualification is just as relevant and recognised by employers as ever. 

CIPD Level 3: Foundation

Award: 1 module
Certificate: 6 modules: 6-8 months
Diploma: 8 modules: 8-10 months
Equivalent to A-level

CIPD Level 5: Intermediate

Award: 1 module
Certificate: 6 modules: 6-8 months
Diploma: 8 modules: 8-10 months
Equivalent to undergraduate degree level

CIPD Level 7: Advanced

Award: 1 module
Certificate: 4 modules: 10-12 months
Diploma: 8 modules: two years
Equivalent to master’s level

 

New CIPD 2021 Qualifications

The 2021 New CIPD qualifications are more streamlined with just one size of qualification at each level. As a result you can no longer work towards individual CIPD accredited Awards nor complete a Certificate then top-up to the Diploma later. If you have (or are working towards) the existing Level 7 Certificate, please contact us about what to do to top-up to the 2021 Diploma. 

CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate

  • 4 modules, 6-8 months study
  • One qualification covering
  • HR and L&D Practice
Learn More

CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma

  • 7 modules, 8-10 months study
  • Two routes covering
  • HR or L&D Management
Learn More

CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma

  • 8 modules, two years part-time study
  • Two routes: Strategic People Management or Strategic Learning & Development
Learn More

Level 3: CIPD Foundation Certificate in People Practice

The CIPD Level 3 qualification provides a pragmatic introduction covering both Human Resource (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) practice. If you are working as a HR or L&D administrator or want to move into the field, this is the level for you.

Within the CIPD Level 3 Certificate you will develop an understanding of how the People Profession sits within an organisation as well as the external and commercial influences you will need to work within. You will build skills in areas such as talent management, recruitment, reward and people development. You will also learn to use data and evidence to inform decision making. You can find more information on what you will learn as part of the qualification on our Level 3 People Practice page.

The CIPD have brought the HR and Learning & Development route into a single qualification. This does mean some of the more detailed focus on topics such as deigning and delivering training are not available in the 2021 CIPD qualifications.

Four core modules which must be completed to achieve the qualification

  • Business, culture and change context (3CO01)
  • Principles of analytics (3CO02)
  • Core behaviours for people professionals (3CO03)
  • Essentials of people practice (3CO04)

Successful completion of the two modules below from the old Level 3 qualification will exempt you from 3CO01.

  • Understanding organisations and the role of human resources
  • Supporting change within organisations

Level 5: CIPD Associate Diploma in People Management / Organisational Learning & Development

CIPD Level 5 is ideal if you already have some HR/L&D experience and are ready to progress in your career. Alternatively, if you don’t have much relevant work experience but have a degree you could also skip straight to Level 5. You will build a deeper understanding of management in either the HR or L&D function within your organisation. Assignments will ensure you’re evaluating models and practices as well as thinking strategically to support the performance of your organisation.

Whether you choose the People Management or the Organisational Learning option you will need to complete three core modules, three specialist modules plus one optional module. See course pages for CIPD Level 5 People Management or Organisational Learning & Development for more information on each module.

Unlike at Level 3, the CIPD have kept HR and L&D as separate qualifications however there is more overlap between the two routes than there has been in the past. You will see both options below have three common core modules before dividing off to cover specialised subject areas. Both routes are then given the same optional units to choose from. For the first time these include topics such as diversity and inclusion, well-being and international people management. There is only space to take one optional module so there is a little less freedom in the CIPD 2021 qualifications to pick what you’re most interested in.

Read our blog: CIPD Associate Level 5 Diploma 2021 Qualifications Explained

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)
  • Optional 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)

Exemptions from the previous version of the qualification are:
Contemporary Developments in Employment Relations = 5HR01 Employment relationship management
Resourcing and Talent Planning = 5HR02 Talent management and workforce planning
Reward Management = 5HR03 Reward for performance and contribution
Employment Law = 5OS01 Specialist employment law
Designing and Developing Digital and Blended Learning Solutions = 5OS02 Advances in digital learning and development

Core Modules

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

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 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)

Exemptions from the previous version of the qualification are:
Employment Law = 5OS01 Specialist employment law
Designing and Developing Digital and Blended Learning Solutions = 5OS02 Advances in digital learning and development

Level 7: CIPD Advanced Diplomas in Strategic People Management and Strategic Learning and Development

The CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diplomas are the highest-level offered by the CIPD and are equivalent to postgraduate study. They are designed to equip you with the knowledge required to develop and implement strategic and innovative solutions to support organisational growth and performance as a HR or L&D professional. You will gain essential skills in business leadership and leading and managing people. You will be able to analyse the external environment and write business reports to persuade and influence stakeholders. The Level 7 Diplomas will also prepare you for Chartered Membership of the CIPD.

As with Level 5, the CIPD have two routes, whether you wish to specialise in HR or L&D. They have also kept the 4 core modules that you take on both routes relatively similar (although no more exams!). Although there are new options including diversity and inclusion, well-being and working in an international context you will only be able to pick one optional module within the CIPD Level 7 Diploma.

For more detailed information on the content of the programmes have a look at our CIPD Level 7 Diploma in Strategic People Management and Strategic Learning and Development pages.

Core Modules

  • Work and working lives in changing business environment (7CO01)
  • People management and development strategies for performance (7CO02)
  • Personal effectivness, ethics and business acumen (7CO03)
  • Business research in people practice (7CO04)

Specialist HR units

  • Strategic employment relations (7HR01)
  • Resourcing and talent management to sustain success (7HR02)
  • Strategic reward Management (7HR03)

Optional units

  • Organisational Design and development (7LD01)
  • Advanced employment law in practice (7OS01)
  • Learning and development practice (7OS02)
  • Technology enhanced learning (7OS03)
  • Advanced diversity and inclusion (7OS04)
  • Managing people in an international context (7OS05)
  • Well-being at work (7OS06)

Exemptions from the previous version of the qualification are:
Successful completion of both 7HRC Human Resource Management in Context and 7LMP Leading, Managing and Developing People = 7CO01 Work and working lives in a changing business environment and 7CO02 People management and development strategies for performance
Investigating a Business Issue from a Human Resources Perspective = 7CO04 Business research in people practice
7MER Managing Employment Relations = 7HR01 Strategic employment relations
7RTM Resourcing and Talent Management = 7HR02 Resourcing and talent management to sustain success
7RWM Reward Management = 7HR03 Strategic reward management
7ODD Organisation Design and Development = 7LD01 Organisational design and development
7ELW Employment Law = 7OS01 Advanced employment law in practice

Core Modules

  • Work and working lives in changing business environment (7CO01)
  • People management and development strategies for performance (7CO02)
  • Personal effectivness, ethics and business acumen (7CO03)
  • Business research in people practice (7CO04)

Specialist Learning & Development modules

  • Organisational design and development (7LD01)
  • Leadership and management development in context (7LD03)
  • Designing learning to improve performance (7LD03)

Optional units

  • Advanced employment law in practice (7OS01)
  • Technology enhanced learning (7OS03)
  • Advanced diversity and inclusion (7OS04)
  • Managing people in an international context (7OS05)
  • Well-being at work (7OS06)

Exemptions from the previous version of the qualification are:
Successful completion of both 7HRC Human Resource Management in Context and 7LMP Leading, Managing and Developing People = 7CO01 Work and working lives in a changing business environment and 7CO02 People management and development strategies for performance
Investigating a Business Issue from a Human Resources Perspective = 7CO04 Business research in people practice
7ODD Organisation Design and Development = 7LD01 Organisational design and development
7LMD Leadership and Management Development = 7LD02 Leadership and management development in context
7DDE Designing, Delivering and Evaluating Learning and Development Provision = 7LD03 Designing learning to improve performance
7ELW Employment Law = 7OS01 Advanced employment law in practice

The Level 7 Diploma gives you 120 credits at master’s level. To add the designation MSc after your name (as well as Chartered MCIPD) you will need to take a further 60 credits. One way you can do this is to complete a 15,000-word work-based dissertation. For more information on this option see our HR Masters Top-Up Programme.

How will you be assessed and how has this changed for the CIPD 2021 qualifications?

There are still written assessments at each level which are set by the CIPD, often in the form of a report. The idea is that they look a little like a document you might submit to senior leadership to put forward a recommendation on a new idea or system.

At level 3 and 5 these written assessments follow the learning objectives for the module. Whereas at level 7 the learning objectives are more intertwined throughout the assessment.

The CIPD Level 3 no longer includes practical in class assessments. If you study with Acacia we will still give you the opportunity to will work with your tutor and peers to perfect these skills in a safe environment.

At Level 7 you will no longer have to complete the two national exams, this content is now covered via assignment work. There is however still a 7000-word research project on an aspect of HR or L&D of your choice. 

Previous versions of the CIPD qualifications

There have now been two iterations of the CIPD levels and qualifications. The first was made in 2010, a year after the original CIPD profession map was launched. The 2021 changes have now been made two years after an updated profession map. However, all previous versions of the qualifications are of no less value and this is how they compare:

CIPD Level 3

  • Certificate in Personnel Practice (CPP) = Foundation Diploma in Human Resource Practice =  Foundation Certificate in People Practice
  • Certificate in Training Practice (CTP) = Foundation Diploma in Learning & Development Practice = Foundation Certificate in People Practice

CIPD Level 5

  • Intermediate Diploma in Human Resource Management = Associate Diploma in People Management
  • Intermediate Diploma in Learning and Development = Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning and Development

CIPD Level 7

  • Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management = Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management
  • Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Development = Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning and Development

Level 5 and 7 CIPD options did not exist prior to 2010 so (if like me) you studied some time ago you will have either the CPP or CTP. 

CIPD Award, Certificate or Diploma – what are they?

Within their 2021 qualifications the CIPD has removed the option to choose the size of the course at each level. As a result you can no longer choose between an Award, Certificate or Diploma. However, for those currently studying this is what it all meant:

Award: bite-size qualifications designed to build a specific skill or update knowledge. This was also suitable for those who were not a in a position to commit to a full qualification.

Certificate: a certificate was six modules at Level 3 and 5 and four modules at Level 7. This size of qualification is will cover the core skills you need for a career in HR or learning and development.

Diploma: this is the most comprehensive option where you will take eight modules to cover the full spectrum of skills needed for a highly successful career.

Advice and guidance

We’re so excited at Acacia to be one of the first providers to be approved for the new CIPD qualifications. For more information about the different CIPD levels, speak with one of our Course Advisors. They will talk through your experience and expectations, offering advice on which is the best qualification to get you where you want to be. Click here to contact us.

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New CIPD Qualifications 2021 FAQs

No. Your course is completely valid as your certificate will be. CIPD qualifications do not run out or elapse. They will be just as valid in 15 years as they are now.

This depends on a couple of things.

1. Whether the CIPD center you’re studying with is approved for the new qualifications. The CIPD haven’t released a list of providers who are approved yet but we’ve been told this will be in place by the end of January 2021. However, if you haven’t heard from your provider it may mean that they are not in the first wave to offer the new qualification.

2. Most importantly it will depend on which modules you have taken. If the modules you have studied give you exemptions under the new rules then this might be possible. If not you would have to take additional modules so switching probably wouldn’t be worth it.

In past times you could have studied an individual module to achieve a CIPD Award however under the new 2021 qualifications this is not an option. It’s all or nothing.

Acacia are offering two ways to deal with this.

1. If you successfully complete an individual module we will give you an Acacia certificate to recognise your achievements and we will keep this as credit that you can add to in the future if you do want to complete a CIPD accredited qualification in the future.

2. If you want for instance a CIPD Level 7 Award in Employment Law we are still offering this for another six months.

Which CIPD level you take depends on a number of factors.

1. Are you currently working in HR or Learning & Development? If not you may wish to start at Level 3 as this will give you the foundations to confidently enter the People Profession. There are however a couple of exceptions to this. If you are an experienced line manager or team leader and you’re looking to make a sideways move to may wish to go straight to CIPD Level 5. Also, if you’re a recent graduate and want to challenge yourself academically you might also wish to go straight to Level 5.

2. If you are currently working in the People Profession you need to consider what work you’re currently exposed to and where you want to be in the next 1 to 3 years. For example, we would never recommend the CIPD Level 7 Diploma to anyone who does not have access to decision making within their organisation.

3. If you’re job searching, what are the person specs asking for? If you’re looking to apply for a HR administrator role which wants a CIPD Level 3 qualification, I would recommend taking the Level 3 and not skipping to Level 5. Remember, you do not have to have fully completed the course before applying for these roles. Having started studying will give you the confidence and understanding to enter into conversations during the interview process. It will also demonstrate your commitment to your own development and your future career in the People Profession.

The People Profession has been known under many different names (some more polite than others…) over the decades. What we call it reflects on not only the views others have of us but on our own identity. The People Profession encompasses different specialisms as well as the generalist HR role. Those within it will have responsibility for the effective management and develop of the workforce within organisations that goes beyond traditional HR (or if we’re going back personnel – shudder!).

Yes! Acacia was the first CIPD centre to be approved to deliver the new qualifications in Saudi and much of the region. The first programme is starting in March 2021. Please contact us for more information.

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