What does it mean to study on an L7 course?

L7 course

Our School Mental Health Specialist PGDip and MA, along with the Masters in School Leadership of Mental Health and Wellbeing, are Level 7 (L7) courses. But what does that actually mean? In this post, we’ll tell you more about L7 courses and their requirements, the specific entry requirements for Minds Ahead qualifications, and what it actually means in practice to study at this level.

What is an L7 course?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are eight different levels of qualifications, as accredited by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Scotland has its own system, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SQCF). Within the RQF, the higher the level the more difficult the qualification is. To put this into context, GCSEs at levels 9 to 4 (or A* to C) are Level 2 qualifications. A-levels are classed as a Level 3 qualification, with an undergraduate degree with honours being classed as Level 6. For the complete outline of levels and associated qualifications, click here.

An L7 course is equivalent to that of a Master’s degree, postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma, or PGCE. L7 courses are great for anyone who wishes to study for a qualification which gives recognition of knowledge beyond degree level (Reed, 2022).

L7 courses are not an easy undertaking, so before signing up it is really important that you are aware of the course requirements, what you will be studying and whether or not it is right for you. Put simply, you need to make sure that you will be prepared for what you’re signing up to! 

Entry requirements for L7 qualifications

Most universities have minimum entry requirements for specific courses, so it’s really important that you check each course carefully. Generally speaking, study at Master’s level requires one of the following:

  • At least a second class honours degree in a subject associated with the chosen subject of study
  • At least a second class honours degree in a subject not associated with the chosen subject of study, along with some evidence of aptitude for the subject applied for
  • Equivalent experience or training, usually from the work environment


You will also need to be able to demonstrate that you are able to meet any English language requirements that the university has. For example, the entry requirements for Leeds Beckett University (whom we are partnered with at Minds Ahead) are a GCSE grade C and above, or IELTS 6.0 with no skill below 5.5 or an equivalent award. We’ve said it already, but when applying for a university course, please make sure you check the individual university’s requirements before applying – it’s so important that you’re aware of this. 

What are the entry requirements for the School Mental Health Specialist L7 qualifications?

At Minds Ahead, we know that there are colleagues working within schools who don’t necessarily have experience of studying at undergraduate or postgraduate level who would flourish on our courses. We will accept suitable candidates onto the School Mental Health Specialist PGDip or MA without prior experience of study at this level, provided that they can provide necessary evidence of experience on application. All applicants must provide a reference from their Headteacher or member of the Senior Leadership Team if more appropriate (e.g. in academy trusts).

In addition to the basic requirements for postgraduate study, the School Mental Health Specialist programme (PGDip or MA) requires applicants: 

  • To be working in or with a school or college for a significant part of the week. This can be across several schools and can includes all types of schools (early years, primary, secondary, FE as well as Hospital Schools, Alternative Provision and Special schools)
  • To be working in a role that supports pupils with mental health needs
  • To have the support of the Headteacher to undertake the programme
  • To have a mental health lead, or other senior leader in the school who can oversee and provide ongoing support during the programme


You can find out more about our School Mental Health Specialist PGDip and MA here.

To study on the Leadership of School Mental Health and Wellbeing (PGDip and MA)  you need to also:

  • To be working in a leadership post in a school or other educational setting at time of application and throughout the course
  • To have satisfactory experience within this role to be able to undertake the course


You can find out more about the complete requirements for the Leadership of School Mental Health and Wellbeing PGDip and MA here.

What does L7 study mean in practice?

So now you should understand where the L7 qualification sits within the overall qualifications framework, what to consider in terms of meeting any course requirements, and what our course requirements are at Minds Ahead. But what does L7 study mean in practice?

Postgraduate study is an opportunity to really focus on developing your skills in an advanced way, in order to become specialised in your subject. It goes beyond simply scratching the surface of a given subject, and requires you to fully immerse yourself in current debates and research. There are several elements which give an indication of the nature of study at this level, and what you will be expected to do whilst on an L7 course:

Independent study – postgraduate study requires you to work independently, demonstrating your ability to really focus on your research. You will often have a supervisor or mentor, so you can touch base with them to make sure you’re on the right track. All of the Minds Ahead courses are online courses, and are designed to allow you to support your students while training. Therefore, independent study is an essential part of all of our programmes.

Level of criticality and evaluation – this is a key element of postgraduate study, and is possibly one of the most difficult elements of study at this level. It is the ability to step outside of your assumptions, look at a variety of different arguments and viewpoints and go beyond simply describing them. You need to move towards being a very active and engaged reader and thinker, in order to synthesise the ideas and concepts related to your area of research. 

Evidence of appropriate study skills – study skills are an essential part of postgraduate study. It isn’t just about being able to write, it’s also about being able to read complex sources and understand what is required of you in an assignment. If you don’t understand the brief, you won’t meet the brief! If you are new to working at this level, or feel like you’re a little out of practice, most universities have study skills support through the library or student’s union. If you choose to study with Minds Ahead, you will have access to this support from Leeds Beckett University. You can find out more about their support here.

So what’s next?

Take time to research your chosen course, and make sure that it is the right course for you. You could make a list of requirements to make sure you are a suitable candidate. You may also need to consider funding too, so check for any available funding opportunities that you are eligible for (such as the DfE funding for our programmes). Don’t be afraid to reach out to the university in question, or to us if you have any questions about our programmes. You can get in touch with us via our contact page, where you can also sign up for our newsletter too!

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References and further reading

Reed (2022) ‘Education levels explained’, [online], Available from: https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/education-levels/ (Accessed 24/10/22).

Skills For Schools (2022) ‘RQF Qualifications’, [online], Available from: https://www.skillsforschools.org.uk/training/what-is-the-right-route-for-you/rqf-qualifications/ (Accessed 24/10/22).

UCAS (2022) ‘UCAS postgraduate entry requirements’, [online], Available from: https://www.ucas.com/postgraduate/choosing-course/ucas-postgraduate-entry-requirements (Accessed 24/10/22).