Foundation Level qualifications

CIPD Foundation Level qualifications (Awards, Certificate and Diplomas) are perfect if you want to acquire a wide range of relevant practical skills in either Human Resources (HR) or Learning and Development (L&D). 

These qualifications are designed to support your career development in either HR or L&D by providing a foundation for you to build on and introducing you to the knowledge and capabilities needed by today’s professionals. 

The CIPD currently has 140,000 members working at all job levels of HR and L&D for thousands of employers across all sectors. All of the vocational learning provided by our qualifications links directly and comprehensively to all requirements of the profession. 

Who are CIPD Foundation Level qualifications for?

CIPD Foundation Level qualifications are suitable for those:

  • wanting to gain the essential knowledge and skills required to move into HR or L&D
  • working in an HR or L&D support role but who do not hold a formal HR or L&D qualification
  • line managers with responsibility for people management and development
  • looking to become a professional member of the CIPD as an Associate member 

Examples of the typical job roles these qualifications can help you enter or progress in include HR Assistant, Learning and Development Administrator, HR Coordinator and Trainer

Foundation Level qualification options 

CIPD offers a flexible range of Foundation Level qualifications that vary in size, content and length. You will gain credits for successfully completed units and the total number achieved will equate to:

  • a Foundation Award – the smallest size HR qualification we offer, ultimately giving you the opportunity to study bite size topics and gain knowledge from a range of professional areas enabling you to build a practical qualification that suits your specific professional needs
  • a Foundation Certificate – larger in size and provides a firm introduction and understanding of HR or L&D in a wider business context
  • a Foundation Diploma – the largest qualification at this level, enabling you to develop your skills in HR and L&D through undertaking more units and widening your breadth of HR and L&D knowledge further.

These qualifications are on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) at Level 3 (equivalent to A Level). This is comparable to Level 5 in Ireland, Level 6 in Scotland and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) Level 4. 

The CIPD Foundation Level qualifications are not available as an Apprenticeship. 

How and where can I study? 

CIPD qualifications are delivered at CIPD approved centres in the UK, Ireland and internationally, that offer a flexible variety of different study modes to suit all study needs. To find your nearest CIPD approved centre and for more details about the different study modes offered, you can use the CIPD Qualification Finder

CIPD Membership 

All registered Certificate and Diploma students must join the CIPD as a Student member. As well as increasing your credibility with employers through undertaking a professional qualification and achieving CIPD membership, you will have exclusive member-only access to the latest HR and L&D resources, development tools and networking opportunities. Upon successful completion of both the Certificate and Diploma qualifications at both the Foundation and Intermediate Level, you will automatically gain Associate professional membership of the CIPD enabling you to use the designatory letters Assoc CIPD after your name. 

CIPD Foundation Level HR Qualifications

Who are the CIPD Foundation Level Human resources qualifications for? 

Whether you’re starting out or are more experienced, CIPD qualifications are a great way to develop your professional knowledge and advance your career in HR.

Drawing on extensive consultation with the HR community and subject matter experts, these practical qualifications provide students with professional knowledge and fundamental skills within a range of relevant HR themes.

These qualifications are suitable for existing HR practitioners, administrators or officers, line managers, or those wanting to enter a career in HR.

The CIPD offers the following Foundation Level HR qualifications:

CIPD Level 3 Award in Human Resources Essentials (QCF) QAN: 501/1016/0

  • The CIPD Level 3 Award in Human Resource Essentials (QCF) qualification can be made up of one HR optional unit or a combination of units totalling between two and 12 credits.
  • This qualification consists of a minimum of 20 hours, of which 10 should be self-directed study and a maximum of 120 hours, of which 60 should be self-directed study (depending on the unit(s) taken, your chosen centre and your study mode).
  • It can take between one and six months to complete.

CIPD Level 3 Certificate in Human Resources Practice (QCF) QAN: 501/0759/8

  • The CIPD Level 3 Certificate in Human Resources Practice (QCF) qualification is a total of 28 credits (three core units of 10 credits in total and 18 credits taken from optional units).
  • This qualification consists of a total of 280 hours, of which 140 hours should be self-directed study.
  • On average it can take nine months to complete, however this will depend on your chosen centre and your study mode.

CIPD Level 3 Diploma in Human Resources Practice (QCF) QAN: 501/0763/X

  • The CIPD Diploma in Human Resources Practice (QCF) qualification is a total of 37 credits (three core units of 10 credits in total and 27 credits taken from optional units).
  • This qualification consists of a total of 370 hours, of which 185 should be self-directed study.
  • On average it can take 12 months to complete, however this will depend on your chosen centre and your study mode.

The Foundation Certificate and Diploma in Human Resources Practice qualifications share the same three core units (10 credits):

Foundation Level HR core units - unit nameCredit value
Developing Yourself as an Effective Human Resources or Learning and Development Practitioner (4DEP)4
Understanding Organisations and the Role of Human Resources (3HRC)4
Recording, Analysing and Using Human Resources Information (3RAI)2

In addition, the total number of optional units taken will determine either a Foundation Certificate in Human Resources Practice qualification outcome (a further 18 credits – including a minimum of 12 credits from Group A and a further six credits from Group A or Group B) or a Foundation Diploma in Human Resource Practice qualification outcome (a further 27 credits – including a minimum of 21 credits from Group A and a further six credits from Group A or Group B):

Group A: HR optional units - unit nameCredit value
Resourcing Talent (3RTO)6
Supporting Good Practice in Managing Employment relations (3MER)6
Supporting Good Practice in Performance and Reward Management (3PRM)6
Contributing to the Process of Job Analysis (3CJA)3
Supporting Change Within Organisations (3SCO)3

Group B: L&D optional units - unit nameCredit value
Identifying Learning and Development Needs (3LDN)3
Designing Learning and Development Activities (3DES)6
Delivering Learning and Development Activities (3DEL)6
Evaluating Learning and development Activities (3ELD)3
Supporting Individual Learning through Coaching and Mentoring (3LCM)6

All stated Core and Group A HR optional units above of 2-12 credits would give the CIPD Level 3 Award in Human Resources Essentials (QCF).

Further details about the content of each unit can be found within the Unit Summaries at Foundation Level. Further details about the structure of the CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate and Diploma in Human Resources Practice and the combination of units you can take can be found within the Rules of Combination

How can I progress my studies further?

Regardless of what qualifications you study, you can widen your knowledge further by undertaking more units at any time.

On completion of the CIPD Level 3 Award in Human Resources Essentials (QCF) (2-12 credits), you can progress your studies by undertaking further units and gaining more credits to achieve either a CIPD Level 3 Certificate in Human Resources Practice (QCF) (28 credits) or a CIPD Level 3 Diploma in Human Resources Practice (QCF) (37 credits). You can also progress your studies further by undertaking the CIPD Intermediate Level qualifications

CIPD Foundation Level L&D Qualifications

Who are the CIPD Foundation Level Learning and Development qualifications for?

Whether you’re starting out or are more experienced, CIPD qualifications are a great way to develop your professional knowledge and advance your career in L&D.

Drawing on extensive consultation with the L&D community and subject matter experts, these qualifications are practical, contemporary and provide students with professional knowledge on new and cutting edge L&D themes. 

These qualifications are suitable for existing L&D practitioners, administrators or officers; or those wanting to enter a career in L&D.

The CIPD offers the following Foundation Level L&D qualifications:

CIPD Level 3 Award in Learning and Development (QCF) QAN: 601/7874/7
  • The CIPD Level 3 Award in Learning and Development (QCF) qualification can be made up of one L&D core or optional unit or a combination of units totalling between three and 12 credits.
  • This qualification consists of a minimum of 30 hours, of which 15 should be self-directed study and a maximum of 120 hours, of which 60 should be self-directed study (depending on the unit(s) taken, your chosen centre and your study mode).
  • It can take between one and six months to complete.
CIPD Level 3 Certificate in Learning and Development (QCF) QAN: 601/5172/9
  • The CIPD Level 3 Certificate in Learning and Development (QCF) qualification is a total of 26 credits (taking all core units to a total of 26 credits).
  • This qualification consists of a total of 260 study hours, of which 120 hours should be private study.
  • On average it can take nine months to complete, however this will depend on your chosen centre and your study mode.
CIPD Level 3 Diploma in Learning and Development (QCF) QAN: 601/5173/0
  • The CIPD Level 3 Diploma in Learning and Development (QCF) qualification is a total of 38 credits (taking all core units to a total of 26 credits and choosing 2 optional units to a total of 12 credits).
  • This qualification consists of a total of 380 study hours, of which 190 should be private study.
  • On average it can take 12 months to complete, however this will depend on your chosen centre and your study mode.
If you are studying Foundation Certificate in Learning and Development you must take all of the following core units (to a total of 26 credits):
Foundation Level L&D core units - unit nameCredit value
Becoming an Effective Learning and Development Practitioner (3BEP)4
Learning and Development and the Organisation (3LDO)4
Identifying Learning and Development Needs (3LDN)3
Designing Learning and Development Activities (3DES)6
Delivering Learning and Development Activities (3DEL)6
Evaluating and Learning and Development Activities (3ELD)3


If you are studying the Foundation Diploma in Learning and Development you must take all of the Foundation Level L&D core units (to a total of 26 credits) and choose a further two optional units (to a total of 12 credits):
Foundation Level L&D optional units - unit nameCredit value
Using Technology to Facilitate Learning (3TFL)6
Enhancing Learner Engagement (3ELE)6
Supporting Collective and Social Learning (3SCL)6
Supporting Individual Learning through Coaching and Mentoring (3LCM)6
Assessing Learning and Development (3ASL)6
Organising Learning and Development Events (3LDE)6


All stated core and optional L&D units above of 3 and 12 credits would give the CIPD Level 3 Award in Learning and Development (QCF).

Further details about the content of each unit can be found within the Unit Summaries at Foundation Level. Further details about the structure of the CIPD Level 3 Foundation Awards, Certificate and Diploma in Learning and Development and the combination of units you can take can be found within the Rules of Combination
How can I progress my studies further?
Regardless of what qualifications you study, you can widen your knowledge further by undertaking more units at any time.
On completion of the CIPD Level 3 Award in Learning and Development (QCF) (3-12 credits), you can progress your studies by undertaking further units in order to achieve either a CIPD Level 3 Certificate in Learning and Development (QCF) (26 credits) or a CIPD Level 3 Diploma in Learning and Development (QCF) (38 credits). 

You can also progress your studies further by undertaking the CIPD Intermediate Level qualifications.


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