NVQ in Archaeological Practice

What is the Level 3 Certificate in Archaeological Practice?

NVQs are nationally recognised qualifications that are all about competence; qualifying with this NVQ demonstrates that you have the skills and understanding to carry out complex archaeological tasks.

What are the benefits of doing this NVQ?

  • a recognised and well-respected qualification among employers and across professions
  • accredits your skills, knowledge and ability and can provide a springboard into further study
  • enables you to develop transferable skills
  • identifies your potential and provides opportunities for development
  • helps you to understand employers’ requirements
  • increases your confidence
  • provides access to specialist knowledge and skills
  • a flexible route to qualification with no age or time limits to complete

Don’t just take our word for it – read about the positive impact achieving this NVQ has had on some of our past candidates:

More information on NVQs

What exactly is an NVQ?

Hands in a circle hold ancient flint tools.
© Wessex Archaeology

NVQs are different from traditional exams; typically, they’re delivered in the workplace and candidates are assessed carrying out workplace tasks. For example, in one of the units of the Archaeological Practice NVQ, candidates are assessed on how well they contribute to intrusive investigations, such as excavations. This means that an assessor will observe them carrying out tasks to demonstrate that they can complete that job to the right standard. There’s a strong focus on workplace performance, complemented by the knowledge and understanding to support it.

The level 3 NVQ is made up of a number of units, and a certain number have to be achieved to achieve the full NVQ. However, each unit is a ‘mini’ qualification in its own right and candidates can choose to study just a few units if they wish. Some employers may decide that they’d like to implement just one unit – in some industries, whole workforces have been given the opportunity to achieve the health and safety unit of an NVQ and businesses have really felt the benefit of training and assessing to that industry national standard, across a whole workforce.

A candidate may be solely interested in a specific area, or they may wish to complete the whole NVQ, so they can choose the units to suit them – it’s that flexible. It’s also really flexible when it comes to timing – NVQs aren’t timebound like other qualifications and each candidate is given the time that suits them to achieve their qualification. There is also no ‘fail’ grade; if you’re judged as ‘not yet competent’ you and your assessor can agree when you might be ready for a re-assessment and you can have another go.

How does the assessment work?

You’ll meet with your assessor who will work out an assessment plan. Each assessment plan is different. If you’ve been working in the industry for many years, it may be that you’re almost ready for assessment straight away. If you’re just starting out, it’s likely that you’ll need to spend time training and learning first – the assessment planning process is all about making sure that an assessment plan is right for each candidate.

You will then choose which units you’d like to do and start the process of evidence gathering. This is where you collect evidence that will demonstrate your competence. This could include photos, reports, job notes – anything that relates to a relevant project or task. Your assessor will also observe you in your role and complete assessment reports. All this builds a picture to demonstrate your competence against the relevant standards. When you’ve covered all the relevant units, the CIfA assessment centre will verify that all the evidence meets the national requirements, and they will apply for your certificate.

So, what does the NVQ look like?

A list of the core and optional units is below. To achieve the whole NVQ, you need to complete all the core units and two of the optional units. However, it really is up to candidates and employers – there’s no rule to say that you couldn’t do more or fewer units depending on what you want the qualification to achieve. You can find out more about the qualification on the SQA website.

Who are the NVQ assessors?

NVQ assessors are competent archaeologists, accredited at CIfA Member level. This job competence is an underpinning principle of NVQ qualifications; all assessors must know the job inside out! In addition, they must also hold the relevant national qualifications in conducting assessments and must ensure that their skills are current.

How do I get started?

The level 3 NVQ in Archaeological Practice is delivered in the workplace so, by its very nature, it’s not a qualification that can be taken at a college, or online. Most candidates are already working in archaeology in some capacity. NVQ assessment also has costs attached. If you’re interested in the qualification for yourself, or for your workforce, drop us a line at assessment@archaeologists.net and we can explain what your options might be, and our current fees.