College of Management and IT (CMIT)

About QQI Awards and National Framework of Qualifications

What is QQI?

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012. QQI is an amalgamation of the previously operational Further Education and Training Awards Council; the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC); the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI). QQI are responsible for a number of areas including:

  • Developing of awards and standards
  • Validating Education and Training programmes
  • Reviewing providers of education and training
  • Maintaining the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
  • Authorising the use of the International Education Mark
  • Developing Quality Assurance
  • Facilitating Qualifications Recognition


The Common Awards System (CAS)

“The Common Awards System (CAS) is a system of linked FET (Further Education and Training) awards specifications at NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) Levels 1 to 6 inclusive”. (QQI, 2015) These specifications contain the minimum expected learning outcomes to be met in order to gain an award. These awards standards reflect the knowledge, skill and competence to be achieved by the learner in order to gain their award. At present there are approximately 1,600 active awards specifications in the CAS. The Common Awards System makes use of the NFQ’s four main award classifications: Major, Minor, Special Purpose and Supplemental Awards.  The diagram below also shows the relationship to the European Qualifications Framework, where a Level 6 on the NFQ is equivalent to a Level on the European framework.

Major QQI Awards

Major QQI Award are the principal class of award made at each level. It represents a significant volume of learning outcomes. Major awards usually comprise of 8 minor awards / modules. The CAS Specification for each major award lists the mandatory modules which must be completed along with the elective modules which are required to make up the overall specified credit value of the award. The default credit values for Major awards are as follows:

Level Default Credit Value
1 20
2 30
3 60
4 90
5 120
6 120


Minor QQI Awards

Minor QQI Awards are also commonly referred to as component certificates. These awards are single modules which can be completed and certificated individually. All minor awards are linked to a major award which allows learners the opportunity to build on their minor awards and work towards gaining a major award. It is important to note that minor awards are achievements in their own right. Learners wishing to focus on one specific area or gain a specific skills e.g. Digital Marketing, Team Leadership etc. may find that completing a minor award in that area is much more appropriate that completing a major award which may be too broad to meet their specific needs. The default credit values for component awards are as follows:

Level Default Credit Value
1-2 5
3-4 10
5-6 15


Special Purpose QQI Awards

Special Purpose QQI Awards are an award type developed for specific areas of learning that have a narrow scope. All special purpose awards comprise one or more components. This means that the credit value of this type of award will be higher than that of a minor award but significantly lower than a major award.  An example of this type of award is the Special Purpose Awards in Training and Development 6S3372. This 30 credit special purpose award is a specific award in Training and Development and consists of two mandatory components / modules at level 6 each with a credit value of 15.


Supplemental QQI Awards

Supplemental QQI Awards is an award which recognises learning concerned with updating/up-skilling and/or continuing education and training. They are occupation related awards and they consist of  one or more components. An example of this type of award is the Level 6 Supplemental Award in Gas Safety which consists of one component with a credit value of 20.

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