Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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Study Time

How many hours will I need to study each week?

The CIPD advises the following weekly study hours throughout your programme:

  • Foundation/Level 3 – an average of 5 hours a week for 12 months
  • Associate/Level 5 – an average of 6 hours a week for 20 months – if you have completed the Foundation CIPD programme – expect more if you haven’t, especially on your first unit
  • Advanced/Level 7 – an average minimum of 8 hours a week for 32 months

This is for the standard timetabled route.  If you are studying 121/competence assessed/self study options it may be a bit different but this is a good guide if you want to finish in these timescales.  Fasttrack learners will need to study more than this to achieve their target end date.  Remember if you take a break you will need to make up the time.  If you have skipped a level you will need to put in more time unless you have studied the topic before – even if you have experience you may not have studied the topics in this way and/or studied for a while so bear this in mind when you choose your level.

When are the live online webinars held?

The live online webinars are held early evenings at 6.30pm depending on your course and level.  They are generally 1 to 1.75hrs depending on your level and the webinar topic.  You may have a choice of days depending on when you start and which unit you need to do – we will advise you when you enrol.  Once your unit starts we will generally stick to that day wherever possible.  Your unit timetable will tell you and the key dates – ie webinars and assignment deadlines – are in the AheadLearn system several months ahead so that you can plan your time.  At Level 5 and Level 7 we may switch days for different units so that we can ensure you benefit from specialist coaches on your topics.

What happens if I miss a live webinar?

We understand that over the duration of your course there may be an occasional webinar that you cannot attend.  We encourage you to attend as many as you can because it’s a bit like signing up to to a college course and not turning up at lessons!  We load up the recordings a couple of days after each webinar to help you to catch up after holidays or sickness but it means you miss out on the group work and breakout rooms.  These are designed to build on your self directed studies and pre-reading and help maximise your learning and we do see an impact on assignment results where a learner does not attend or misses sessions regularly.  If you are likely to find it hard to attend most of the sessions, we recommend you explore the self study or 121 route.

I really want to get started with my CIPD qualification but I can’t afford it right now.

We understand it can be difficult sorting out the finances for your CIPD qualification especially if you aren’t able to get funding from your organisations.  There are a number of ways we can help you to get started on your CIPD journey:

  • Flexible interest free payment plans – to help you spread your investment
  • A limited number of bursary discounts – apply if you are a low income self funding learner
  • Study unit by unit – adds value to your CV but helps you to study across a longer period

If you’d like some support with your business case, please let us know and book a call.

How does the interest free payment plan work?

We usually ask for £500 initial payment then monthly payments on a standing order across your programme.  Take a look here for example payment plans and book a call to check and agree your payment plan.  If this doesn’t work for you please let us know – we are happy to consider your suggestion as long as you keep to what we agree without us chasing you for money.

Even with the interest free payment plan the monthly payments are too high for me

If these aren’t manageable for you please let us know as there are a number of options we can look at.  For example:

  • We may be able to agree a lower initial payment to help you spread your fees
  • Register a few months early – which is a good idea anyway as we limit numbers – and spread your payments over a few extra months to bring down the monthly amount.

Take a look here for example payment plans and book a call to check and agree your payment plan.

How do I apply for a bursary place?

You can apply via our online application form. Make sure you explain your circumstances.  There is a CIPD Trust bursary scheme but it opens for short windows a couple of times a year.  Please ask about our own scheme to help you to get started with your CIPD studies.  We may ask for salary evidence.  We only have one or two places per start date so make sure you apply early.

How does the CIPD Light self study / on demand route work?

On CIPD Light our self study/on demand support package, you will have 24/7 access to AheadLearn to access all the learning resources and study alone at your own pace.  You can message your coach via the learning platform for simple queries.  We’ll give you access to webinar recordings and/or live timetabled sessions for your unit but you don’t get the 121 coaching and feedback on your formative work.  This may be enough for you if you are a strong and confident independent learner and feel happy to study alone.  You are welcome to attend live webinars subject to space and we encourage you to do that especially on your first unit as it will help you to learn and make connections with other students.   If you find you need more support you can buy extra booster coaching sessions to help you to stay on track.  Please do ensure you are submitting your assignments using the published timetables and let your coach know your plans on this.  There are strict CIPD rules around the assignments and versions change regularly and we want to make sure you work on the right version.  Speak to your coach or the office if you want further guidance on this.

How does the 121 approach work?

You are welcome to take any unit/s on a 121 basis.  This works out a little more expensive as you will have your webinars on a 121 basis with your coach at a mutually agreed time.  This may work well for you if you would like to work faster and arrange sessions with your coach yourself rather than follow the group timetabled approach.  This is a highly tailored solution with additional support available to buy individually or in blocks as you need them.   Please ask your advisor or programme leader if you wish to explore this option.  If you have started your course you may be able to swap to the 121 approach and/or buy extra booster sessions to help you to maximise your results or finish your programme faster.

How does the Fasttrack arrangement work?

It’s just like the 121 approach where you pay for extra coaching support to tailor your programme to your needs.  You can work as fast as you like on a 121 basis.  Because of the rules around assignments we generally suggest you work on assignments as they are timetabled to minimise extra costs because of CIPD rules and changes.   Please ask if you’d like to explore this approach.

What does guided learning and self-directed learning mean?

Your guided learning is the webinars, 121 coaching and formative feedback plus the signposted resources you will find on your AheadLearn platform.  The self directed element makes up more of your study time at Level 5 and Level 7 because you are expected to do that at undergraduate or masters levels.  Your self directed time should be spent exploring and researching some of the indicative content that is relevant to your particular interests or sector.  We cover the most popular and common indicative content and then encourage you to explore other areas in your self directed study time so that you maximise your results and build on your learning and impact on your results and those of your organisation.

When does my 121 coaching take place?

You should arrange at least one 121 session with your coach on each unit.  You may prefer two shorter sessions or 1 longer meeting depending on your progress, experience and the topic you are studying.  You can agree that directly with your coach – it can be during the working day rather than the evenings if that works better for you and your coach.  Your coach will remind you at key times in the units where 121 coaching really helps to support your learning but you can request it at a different time if you prefer.  For example if you have missed a webinar or are finding a topic or unit difficult please do send your coach a message and book a session in so that you don’t get behind!

 Can I arrange extra 121 coaching sessions?

We understand that sometimes you may prefer more support than we have built into your learning programme.  You are welcome to buy additional booster coaching at any time so that you can have extra 121 support from your coach if you need it.  That may be for example: extra 121 sessions, additional formative guidance to help boost your grades and/or to help with study skills if you haven’t studied for a while or are finding a topic especially difficult.  Your coaches have a wealth of experience both academically and in a variety of organisations so this is a great way to boost your results in your course as well as your career and can also help support you with workplace challenges and to transfer your learning back into your organisation more quickly.


How do I enrol on a CIPD course?

If you’d like to get started please arrange a call with one of our advisors if you haven’t done that yet.  You can book a call here:

Book your CIPD call

We’ll chat through your goals and options and explain how our programmes work.  This is a great chance to check what level you should do, ask any questions that you have and agree payment arrangements, start dates and unit choices.

How do I apply?

You may like to complete an application form before you after your call depending on where you are in your CIPD research.   You can apply here and include your CV if you have it to hand.

Apply for your CIPD place

Once we see your application we will review it and offer you a place.  We do like to speak to every learner before we accept you on our programmes to ensure that it feels like a good fit.

My CV isn’t up to date

Don’t worry – we aren’t judging you on the quality of your CV.  We just need to see that you have enough experience to do the course you are applying for.  If it’s not up to date you can still submit your application form.  You can also send a job description and/or LinkedIn profile or just add a few words to a cover email that we can keep on your record with your application form.  If you don’t have a CV to hand we can often still offer you a place ‘subject to CV’ based on a call and you can send it on when you have it as long as we receive it before you start your course.  Part of your CIPD qualification is about helping you to develop your career and you will have the chance to update your CV and access tools and support to do that during your course.

How will I know my application is successful?

If we haven’t spoken to you yet we will arrange a quick call to check we can offer you a place and explain how the course works.  This is a good chance for you to confirm start dates, payment arrangements and anything else you’d like to check.  Our policy is not to enrol you on a CIPD qualification course without speaking to you first – we work with some of the best people professionals and organisations around and do our best to keep our standards high to ensure a quality learning experience for all.  Once we are happy to offer you a place we’ll send you an offer email.  If you want to go ahead you will need to accept your place and confirm any company payment arrangements eg purchase order numbers etc.

Why do I need CIPD Student Membership?

Your CIPD Student membership is a requirement of starting your CIPD course.  You cannot submit an assignment or complete your qualification without it.  You’ll gain access to fantastic resources, helplines, discounts and branch events.  It’s a great way to network and develop your career further and helps you to demonstrate your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) which is important for your professional development as a people professional.

How do I join the CIPD?

Don’t worry if you’re not a member yet.  We’ll send you links when you enrol and we’ll help you to get set up correctly.  You need to link your student membership to your qualification course – our CIPD Registrations Coordinator will check that you are registered correctly before your course starts and steer you in the right direction if you need further support – sometimes it works automatically and sometimes it needs a quick call to the CIPD for example if you are moving to us from another CIPD study centre.

Which CIPD Qualification should I choose?

We are happy to advise you about which level we think is most appropriate for you.  Sometimes you will have a choice of options – there are pros and cons and it’s often and ‘on balance’ decision.  We’ll tell you what we think from our wide range of experience with lots of different learners and we suggest you also check the CIPD quiz which we can send over to you.  There is also a CIPD Profession Map tool to guide you on this.  We can send detailed CIPD specifications if you want to research the course content in more depth to check before you make your decision.  Remember that the qualifications are designed as  building blocks to take one after the other so think very carefully before skipping a level.  Even if you have come across some of the topics you will build on your learning and we aim to help you to develop and stretch to the next level whatever stage you are at in your people career.  We will advise you based on a number of criteria including your previous academic experience, current and previous roles, personal circumstances and career goals.  We will always have a quick diagnostic call with you before we can confirm your offer.

What CIPD membership will I get?

You will start off as a Student member.  Once you complete the Level 3/Foundation Certificate in People Practice you will be upgraded to Foundation membership which demonstrates you are serious about your career in people practice, HR or L&D.  After you complete your Level 5/Associate Diploma in People Management or Organisational L&D you will be upgraded to Associate membership.  Level 7/Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management or L&D also means you achieve the title of Associate member of the CIPD.  You can then apply for your Chartered CIPD membership if you wish and when you are ready and the CIPD will advise you on this once your final unit has been moderated and your qualification confirmed.

What is Experience Assessment?

You may have heard about the CIPD’s Experience Assessment scheme.  This is a way to get CIPD membership based on your experience rather than by completing a qualification course.  It may be appropriate for you if you have lots of experience and are happy to get the membership level rather than study and develop the learning and knowledge that you will gain from the qualification. You will need to gather evidence for a portfolio to demonstrate your competence before you proceed to the full application.  If you have lots of experience in people management, HR or L&D you can complete the pre-assessment free of charge to see if you would be eligible for this route to membership and find out more about it.  If you don’t have quite enough experience you are welcome to study single units to fill your knowledge gaps and build on your experience and this is a popular way to work towards meeting the CIPD criteria for experience assessment.  You may also wish to explore the competence assessment approach to the CIPD qualifications which is a tailored approach to support you to achieve your CIPD qualifications if you have significant experience in HR or L&D.  You may be able to opt for a mixed approach.  We suggest you enquire to explore your eligibility for this personalised 121 option.

How does the Competence Assessed/Tailored Approach work?

If you’ve lots of experience in people management, HR or L&D we’ll map your experience onto the CIPD qualifications by assessing the evidence of your knowledge, experience and behaviours in terms of the CIPD Profession Map and the qualification’s assessment criteria.  You will gather your evidence into a portfolio.  You will be supported by a highly experience CIPD coach who will advise you on the best approach and steer you to achieve your qualification in this way.  It may be that this tailored approach can support your application for the CIPD Experience Assessment scheme.  If you are interested in this highly specialised and personalised option please let us know.

We look forward to speaking with you soon.  Click to Request Information




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