NEBOSH General Certificate Vs NEBOSH Diploma

Nebosh By Matthew Coombes

The NEBOSH National Diploma (formally known as the NEBOSH National Diploma for Occupational Health and Safety Management Professionals) and the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety are two of the UK’s leading health and safety qualifications. They are both accredited by NEBOSH, the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health.

Qualification levels

The NEBOSH General Certificate is an SQCF Level 6, which is comparable to a Level 3 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In plain terms, this means that the course is ‘certificate level’, like an A Level, or O Level, referred to as a “General Certificate in Education”.

The NEBOSH National Diploma is an SQCF Level 10, comparable to a Level 6 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This makes the course equivalent to a university Bachelor’s degree with honours.

Course duration

The NEBOSH General Certificate is based on a study schedule of around 108 hours including self-study, and typically involves 5-9 full day tutor led sessions depending on the delivery method. At the end of the course, you will be ready for your Open Book Examination.

The NEBOSH National Diploma is made up of three assessed units, typically taken one unit per year across a three-year period. The course is a large undertaking with a minimum study time of around 475 hours.

Entry requirements

The NEBOSH National General Certificate has no entry requirements other than a suitable level of English language, and is ideally suited not only for those looking to start a career in health and safety but also those who already have health and safety responsibilities. This can include managers, team leaders, supervisors, and even business owners and directors that want to understand why health and safety is important, and how they can manage it.

The NEBOSH National Diploma is a high-level health and safety qualification that is best suited to those looking to build on an existing knowledge of the subject and develop their career in health and safety, or for those that are looking to develop an in-depth understanding of how to effectively manage health and safety.

Course content

The NEBOSH General Certificate consists of two units, unit NG1 and unit NG2.

  • Unit NG1 covers the management of health and safety and includes relevant legislation, including the legal, moral and financial reasons that we should all contribute towards effectively managing health and safety.
  • Unit NG2 covers hazards that are common to nearly all workplaces across the UK, and includes topics such as Fire, Electricity, Working at Height and more.

The NEBOSH Diploma is three separately assessed units: ND1, ND2, and ND3.

  • Unit ND1 “Know- workplace health and safety principles” is designed to develop your knowledge of health and safety, including understanding and interpreting relevant health and safety information such as legislation, guidance and best practice, and then communicating this effectively to those that will be affected by your organisation’s activities.
  • Unit ND2 “Do – controlling workplace health issues (UK)” covers a range of common workplace health issues/hazards and how they can be effectively assessed and controlled. The unit also includes the legal duties associated with these issues/hazards.
  • Unit ND3 “Do – controlling workplace safety issues (UK)” surrounds how you can effectively advise organisations on a range of common workplace safety issues/hazards, and how they can be assessed and controlled. ND3 also includes the legal duties associated with these hazards.

Course assessments

The NEBOSH National General Certificate is assessed with an open book examination (OBE) for unit NG1. On the date of your exam, NEBOSH will release an examination paper which you download, plan, complete and upload within a 24-hour period. You are allowed to use your course notes, study book, revision materials and are encouraged to access UK legislation and HSE guidance to support your answers. The exam assesses how well you can apply all of the things that you have learned in elements 1-5 to a scenario-based examination paper.

The assessment for Unit NG2 of the NEBOSH National General Certificate is a work-based risk assessment. Using the NEBOSH risk assessment template, you will conduct a risk assessment of your workplace, or a suitable low-medium risk workplace that you have permission to assess (such as a local library or business). The NG2 assessment requires you to identify hazards, whether they’re being effectively controlled or not, and what (if any) recommendations you would make to improve the safety of the workplace.

The NEBOSH National Diploma has three assessments to complete in order to achieve the full qualification. NEBOSH have stated that the assessments should take around 140 hours to complete in total.

The ND1 assessment contains four parts: questions based on a scenario, a workplace-based assessment, reflective tasks, and a short research project. All four parts must be completed within 30 working days of the assessment date, and it should take around 60 hours to complete within this time.

ND2 and ND3 are scenario-based assessment papers completed as open book examinations online, which should take around 40 hours each.

We are a Gold Standard NEBOSH Learning partner

If you would like any more information about either of these courses, please feel free to get in touch with our NEBOSH course advisors. Our advisors will be able to answer any of your questions and help you to understand if the course is suitable for your needs.


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