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CIPD Level 5 HR Explained

CIPD Level 5 in Human Resource Management; what is it and is it right for me?

The CIPD Level 5 qualifications in HR Management are the same academic level as an undergraduate degree and the middle of the CIPD accredited options. Within them, you will explore HR models and practices as well internal and external factors which impact on organisations. You will deepen your understanding of the human resources function, how to increase the impact HR has within an organisation and develop strategic thinking.

Are the CIPD Level 5 HR qualifications for me?

The CIPD Level 5 quals are for HR Managers or if that’s the next step for you. You can skip the CIPD Level 3 but you will get much more from the course if you have a couple of year’s HR experience behind you. Academically, your assignments will be at degree level, so if you haven’t studied for a while it’s good to be aware that it might take a little time to get back into your study groove.

The CIPD Level 5 is a great generalist qualification, you don’t have to tick all of the points below but they might help you narrow it down:

  • currently work in HR management
  • have responsibility for implementing HR policies and strategies
  • are an aspiring HR Manager
  • have a relevant degree or work experience and wish to further develop your career
  • have studied the CIPD Level 3 Certificate in HR Practice
  • wish to build credibility within the HR profession.

If you don’t work in HR and don’t have a relevant degree you can still go straight to the Level 5 in HR Management. It’s important to think about what you want at the end of the course. If you’re applying for your first HR job, like a HR Assistant, then the Level 3 in HR Practice Diploma will probably give you the skills and confidence you need. You may then find that, once you’re settled, your employer will sponsor you to complete the CIPD Level 5.


What skills will I develop during this course?

CIPD Level 5 HR  Diploma is a fab generalist qualification, giving you a range of practical skills which are transferable between different industries and types of organisations. You will gain the opportunity to apply knowledge to your own environment and share ideas with those you’re studying with.

Once you have completed the CIPD Level 5 Diploma in HR Management you will understand:

  • What it takes to perform as an effective HR professional who adds value to their organisation
  • The contemporary issues and responsibilities of the HR department in the ethical functioning of an organisation
  • Labour market trends and how they impact on different organisations in different contexts
  • Effective, legal management of the HR cycle from recruitment, section and induction to dismissal, retirement and redundancy
  • Talent planning to attract, develop and retain employees in line with resourcing strategies
  • How data can be used intelligently to draw accurate and meaningful conclusions creating a sustainable, high performance culture
  • Employment Law to ensure issues including pay, working hours, performance, grievances and restructuring, are dealt with in a fair and legal way
  • How to effectively build business cases and concise reports on HR issues.

What topics does the CIPD Level 5 in HR cover?

With the CIPD Level 5 HR Certificate and Diploma there are core modules which you will have to study, plus several optional modules. The training centre you choose to study with will impact on which optional modules you can choose from. Some providers will not give you a choice of topics, others will offer more variety.

Core units: For the Certificate you will need to complete the first three modules below, however the Diploma requires all four to be completed.

  1. Developing Professional Practice
  2. Using Information in HR
  3. Business Issues and the Contexts of HR
  4. Managing and Coordinating the HR Function (core module for the Diploma only)

Optional units: For the Certificate you will need to build up to 6 modules and for the Level 5 Diploma you will need 8 modules in total.

  • Resourcing and Talent Planning
  • Reward Management
  • Improving Organisational Performance
  • Employee Engagement
  • Contemporary Developments in Employment Relations
  • Employment Law*
  • Organisation Design
  • Organisation Development
  • Human Resources Service Delivery
  • Using Facilitation Skills
  • Implementing Coaching and Mentoring
  • Developing Leadership and Management Skills
  • Developing and Using Consultancy Skills

*The Employment Law module is based on UK law so is not recommended if you work internationally. The CIPD is currently reviewing how it manages the Employment Law but no changes will be made before 2021.

There are rules of combination which mean there are certain modules which can’t be taken together. These rules are set by the CIPD but the training provider you choose will be able to help with this. To find out more about the modules Acacia offer, visit our CIPD Level 5 in HR Management course page.

How much do the CIPD Level 5 qualifications cost?

The cost of the course will depend on which size of qualification you choose (Award, Certificate or Diploma), how you wish to study (online or classroom) and who you wish to study with. A CIPD Level 5 Certificate can cost between £2,500 and £5000. Some further education colleges and universities will be slightly cheaper if you are paying for the course yourself as they do not have to pay VAT. However, if your company is paying for the course, they will be able to claim the VAT back.

Elearning study will often be the cheapest option as the costs to deliver it are significantly lower than classroom or live online learning. Consider what you want to get from the qualification, what is included and how you learn best before deciding which option delivers the best value for money for you.

Some providers will offer monthly interest-free installment plans to help you to manage the cost of the programme. If you are currently working in HR, consider asking your employer whether they will sponsor you or contribute to the course fees. Talk to one of our Course Advisors for advice on how to make your case for funding.

How long does it take?

Within the CIPD Level 5 HR there are three sizes of qualification; the Award, Certificate and Diploma. The length of the programme will depend on which of these options you choose:

  • CIPD Awards are bite-sized programmes covering one topic area. They range from 15 to 60 hours of study and will normally be completed over a month of part-time study.
  • CIPD Certificate has six modules covering the core of HR management. This 32 credit course will take from 6 to 12 months to complete part-time, depending how you choose to study.
  • CIPD Diploma is the most comprehensive with eight modules for an overview of the whole HR function. Again, depending on how you choose to study the Diploma will take from 8 to 16 months of part-time study.

Most people choose either the Certificate or Diploma as these cover the range of topics employers will expect you to have as a HR professional. Further to this, Diplomas and Certificates give you CIPD professional membership; Awards don’t.

How will I be assessed?

Each of the modules has a written assessment which is between 2,500 and 4,000 words and each one is broken down into learning outcomes. The CIPD Level 5 in HR is a pass or fail course so you will not receive a grade for your work. You do however need to show in your assignment that you have met all of the learning objectives for that module. You will be able to resubmit an assignment once if you haven’t met all of the criteria. Your centre should give you detailed written feedback telling you exactly which parts of the assignment have not quite met the brief. A good question to ask before you sign up with a centre is what support you will get if you do fail an assignment.

Your training centre or university will mark your written assessments before they are internally moderated. Every centre will also have at least one visit from the CIPD each year (depending on their size) to check quality standards are being maintained. Some centres will also offer a CIPD competency assessment for professionals with more experience.

Entry requirements

Although there are no formal entry requirements to study the CIPD Level 5 HR qualifications, you should have at least one of the following:

  • some experience in a HR role
  • line management or office management experience
  • an undergraduate degree and the academic confidence to take a higher level of study than the CIPD Foundation qualifications.

To complete this training course, you will have to complete written assignments in English. If English is not your first language, we recommend you have an ESOL Level 2 or IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

What is the CIPD Level 5 in HR Management equivalent to?

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) places the CIPD’s intermediate qualification at Level 5, so it is internationally recognised as an undergraduate degree level qualification.

Who can I study with?

The CIPD have approved several universities, colleges and private providers to deliver qualifications, but which options centres are approved to deliver will vary. Some relevant university undergraduate degrees come with CIPD accreditation at Level 5. These will often be a slightly different version of the qualification than you will receive from a private provider. Private providers often target those who are already in work and need more flexible study options than a university or college can provide.

Online or classroom study

There are lots of options of how to study for your CIPD qualifications. You should consider your learning style before deciding which is the best option for you.

CIPD Online study

Many online CIPD providers have taken a very traditional e-learning approach which is highly self-directed and individual. There are also ‘live-online’ options which focus more on webinars to develop understanding. Some providers will use these minimally and the webinars will be open to very large groups. Other providers will choose to keep groups small to maximise interaction and discussion. Make sure you ask your online provider what learning with them would look like and that it matches how you best learn.

CIPD Classroom study

Face-to-face workshops will often give you the chance to apply and share learning with others as well as benefit from the experience of your lecturer. The quality and quantity of workshops will vary considerably between different providers. Important questions to ask include:

  • The number and frequency of workshops
  • The qualifications and experience of the tutors
  • How many students will be in each group?

Many classroom-based courses will include an element of blended learning. A blended learning course will mean you’re expected to do some independent learning alongside your classroom sessions. Before you choose a provider ask what extra resources, they will provide you with to support your independent learning.

What jobs will the CIPD Level 5 in HR Management qualify me for?

Some of the roles this qualification will prepare you for include:

  • Human Resources Manager
  • HR Advisor
  • HR Business Partner
  • Recruitment Manager

Being CIPD qualified is often a prerequisite for roles in the human resources field. Often being able to demonstrate that you are working towards achieving the qualification is enough to progress into a new role. The nature of the qualification means that you will be able to apply learning within a work context as soon as you start the course.

There is a huge variation in pay within HR depending on the size of company, industry and location. PayScale put the average pay for a HR manager at over £40,000 in London but this could go as high as £58,000 plus bonuses.

What is next after the CIPD Level 5 in HR Management?

Once you have completed your CIPD Level 5 Certificate or Diploma you can move onto either a CIPD Level 7 qualification or a Master’s in Human Resource Management. A Level 7 qualification normally takes about two years of part-time study. If you’re not sure about how the different CIPD levels slot together checkout our blog post on CIPD Levels 3, 5 & 7 Explained.

What is the CIPD?

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) is a registered charity which aims to improve working life through good practice in human resources and learning and develop. They set the standard for HR professionals across the world, provide research and guidance and act as an awarding body for qualifications.

How does CIPD membership work?

Completing the either the Level 5 Intermediate Certificate or Diploma leads to Associate membership of the CIPD. Associate membership is the first level of professional membership and allows you to use Assoc CIPD after your name. Professional membership of the CIPD not only shows your commitment to the professional standards but gives you access to resources and networking events. Visit the CIPD’s website to find out more on becoming a CIPD member.

Who we are?

Acacia Learning is an approved CIPD centre. This family run business has delivered professional qualifications for 13 years and currently has three offices and a team of 45 fabulous tutors. Find out more about our CIPD Level 5 Qualifications in HR Management.


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