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Understanding What Your Qualification Equates to

Posted by Lauren at 16:22 on 12 Apr 2018


When you undertake an aromatherapy course it is important to understand what your qualification equates to and the difference between an Award, Certificate and a Diploma. 

These are set by a variety of government led examining boards in the UK such as:

•    APL – Accredited Prior Learning
•    QCA – Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
•    QCDA – Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency
•    QCF – Qualifications and Credit Framework
•    NDAQ – National Database of Accredited Qualifications
•    NQF – National Qualifications Framework
•    NOS – National Occupational Standards
•    OFQUAL – Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation
•    RRQ – Register of Regulated Qualifications

Previously QCA accredited qualifications and approved awarding organisations. Qualifications run by these awarding organisations were also on the NQF. The QCF took over from the NQF which was withdrawn 2017 and is now run centrally by the government framework for recognising qualifications. The QCDA is the government framework for reforming qualifications and OFQUAL regulates examinations and assessment. Accredited organisation qualifications are registered on the RRQ which was previously known as the NDAQ.

Understanding What Your Qualification Equates to.jpg


Qualifications on are made up of credits. Each module of a course is awarded a particular number of credits and is dependent on the number of guided learning hours - 1 credit = 10 hours. Guided learning hours include an estimate of the time that might be allocated to contact hours with the tutor or other means of structured learning time i.e. directed assignments, assessments or other means of supported individual study and practice etc. These hours determine if the level you have achieved is an Award, Certificate or Diploma for example: 

•    Award = 1-12 credits
•    Certificate = 13 - 36 credits
•    Diploma = 37 credits +

The IFA Professional Aromatherapy Diplomas equates to 37 credits, which is based on guided learning hours. When we review applications for full membership we assess your qualifications against this benchmark as well as curriculum content. The credit system is designed so that credits can be transferred and reduce repetition of units, for example if you have already completed an Anatomy and Physiology course you will not need to re-sit this component etc.

We recommend that if you are in any doubt regarding the qualification you will hold after you attend a course, and the subsequent entitlements thereafter, that you should discuss this thoroughly with the course tutor before embarking on a course. 

For more information:

If you would like to learn more about essential oils please view our course listings and contact an IFA approved course provider. Caution must be exercised when using essential oils and where there is doubt, always contact an IFA Registered Aromatherapist who will offer guidance on the oils that are suitable for individual needs. Our Register is approved by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), a UK body accountable to Parliament.