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NEBOSH Diploma Qualifications

A NEBOSH Diploma gives holders an internationally-recognised and respected health and safety qualification, which is specifically intended for health and safety advisers and practitioners.

A number of universities accept a NEBOSH Diploma as part of any pre-requisites for MSc programmes, and the amount of work required means that previous health and safety qualifications such as NEBOSH Certificate qualifications are highly advisable before signing up to undertake a NEBOSH Diploma.

Achieving a NEBOSH Diploma qualification is one of the hardest things a health and safety professional will have to do. The amount of information involved, the time requirements of the training, the hours of self-study necessary, and all of the revision needed culminate in ensuring that a NEBOSH Diploma course is as much about dedication, determination and self-discipline as it is about learning the information taught by the tutor.

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Students graduating after passing qualification A senior safety technician and a younger employee

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NEBOSH National Diploma

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals. Since its introduction in 1988 it has become established as the most popular qualification of its kind, with over 10,000 students having successfully gained the NEBOSH Diploma.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

NEBOSH National Diploma
A senior safety technician

NEBOSH International Diploma

Unlike the NEBOSH National Diploma which focuses specifically on UK law, the NEBOSH International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is intended for those who are currently, or who may in the future, be working outside of the UK elsewhere in the world.

Health and safety laws and legislation will differ from country to country. Therefore a course which tries to cover legislation for each country will not only be impractical, but would be irrelevant for anyone attending who would not be going to that country to work! The syllabus of the NEBOSH International Diploma instead concentrates on best practices and international conventions.

NEBOSH International Diploma
Two male employees wearing orange safety jackets discussing work

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Learning Information for NEBOSH Diploma Success

The NEBOSH Diploma is a Tough Qualification to Acquire

Where many students slip up with accredited health and safety courses is not putting in the required time and effort for revision. Whilst the majority of shorter training courses such as the IOSH Managing Safely or CITB courses will teach those attending them the necessary knowledge during the session, longer and more comprehensive qualifications like the NEBOSH Diploma or NEBOSH General Certificate will require a significant element of self-study and revision in conjunction with attending tutor-led training. Without it, delegates with struggle to possess and retain the necessary level of knowledge to successfully pass the examinations and assessments associated with the training course.

As far as the NEBOSH Diploma course is concerned, this is one of the most lengthy and comprehensive (if not the most), of all the health and safety qualifications that can be taken. The overall qualification syllabus incorporates a large amount of self-study as part of the course, as well as the requirement for many hours of revision. The sheer quantity of information taught and needing to be learnt makes revising it all essential for examination success.

The Need for Self-Study and Revision

Although some candidates can get away with doing less revision and self study than others for certain courses, when it comes to NEBOSH Diploma success it is vital that a student is disciplined and dedicated enough to allocate sufficient time for self-study and put in the tremendous amount of effort expected.

It is no surprise that the national average pass rates for the Diploma are much lower than for the other NEBOSH courses. This is not only due to the higher level of the qualification (the NEBOSH Diploma is a Level 6 qualification), but also because many students grossly underestimate the effort which they personally need to put in. It is not everyone by any means, but a common misconception is that it is simply a matter of turning up to more training days, being reminded of common sense health and safety issues, and then writing them down in the exam. The harsh reality is that not only is there a great deal of complex and detailed knowledge required to be learnt such as specific health and safety legislation for instance, but there is a definitive requirement for self-study. The recommended figure is approximately 257 hours of self-study, not including the time involved in actually attending the training element of the course, and is a primary reason as to why many individuals struggle to see it through and the national pass rate is so low.

Hard But By No Means Impossible

Whilst a NEBOSH Diploma may sound like a daunting prospect, it is most certainly achievable for those who are willing to commit to the necessary time and work endeavour. The amount of information and complexity of the syllabus means that a taught course greatly increases the potential for achieving the qualification rather than doing it all yourself via an e-learning or distance learning option. It is also far more conducive to successfully passing the assessments if the NEBOSH Diploma is taken as an intensive course where the classes are conducted on a full-day, full-week basis rather than spreading it out over many years and forgetting most of what was taught at the beginning.

The Benefits of Achieving a NEBOSH Diploma

Acquiring a NEBOSH Diploma health and safety qualification will put an individual in an elite group of health and safety professionals. The difficulty of the qualification means that there are relatively few people who have the Diploma compared to Certificate-level qualifications, which elevates those individuals which do possess it to a higher level in the eyes of current and potential employees. NEBOSH Diploma holders are highly respected and sought after in the health and safety profession, which means they can frequently command high salaries and demand for their knowledge and expertise.


One of the primary reasons behind exam failure is not a lack of ability on the part of the individual, but rather a lack of application. Although not all by any means, the majority of candidates who fail the examinations and assessments do so because they underestimated the amount of effort, revision and self-study that is needed to pass these qualifications. It is especially true of those who have been in professions for a long period of time which are quite high risk and so are used to certain health and safety procedures. They believe that the course content and the exams will be a simple matter of common sense and can get away with using their past experience as a guide.

The truth is that passing the exams requires much more than this. Correct examination technique is a crucial component of successfully passing them, such as understanding what the questions are specifically asking, the amount of content which needs to be given in an answer according to the number of marks available, tailoring answers according to the keywords used in the question (outline, describe, state) etc.

Whilst the above is true for all health and safety courses which have exams and assessments at the end of them, it is absolutely essential for the lengthy exams that come at the conclusion of the NEBOSH Diploma training. The last thing a delegate wants to do is fail the exams after spending so much time and money on the course, which means that the syllabus and the training should be given their full attention, respect and commitment at all times.

Why Do So Few People Achieve The NEBOSH Diploma?

The Dangers of Overconfidence or Naivety

Many individuals have come unstuck in the past through believing that all they need to do is turn up to a health and safety training course, sit through it, and then be rewarded with the certificate at the conclusion. Typically this comes from the belief that all health and safety is simply a matter of common sense, and so surely any examinations must also be a case of giving the most sensible answer.

The reality is extremely different however. Whilst there is an element of common sense when it comes to health and safety, the overwhelming majority of the information will need to be learnt. For instance, only when an employee is taught about the specific dangers associated with a particular chemical through appropriate COSHH training will they be able to use, handle and store the substance safely and appropriately.

Passing Examinations for Accredited Courses

Similarly, when it comes to examinations at the conclusion of accredited training courses, the questions will ask for detailed information in a specific way. Only those who have been taught the information and how to answer the question in the way it has been asked will be able to provide the exam marker with the information they are looking for. Examination success is not simply a matter of learning information and then writing down as much as you can remember. Examinations and assessments for a course like the NEBOSH General Certificate require questions to be answered according to certain action words (describe, outline, explain etc.), and for students to show how they can relate the knowledge which they have acquired on the course to real-world situations. This means a significant part of what the examiners are looking for is concerned with how the information can be applied, rather than just remembering facts and figures or applying common sense statements such as "don't use it" for instance.

This requirement to answer exam questions in a specific way, along with the sheer amount of information which needs to be studied and understood of course, means that the NEBOSH General Certificate is a difficult qualification to achieve. However, trumping this is the NEBOSH Diploma. This health and safety qualification requires approximately seven weeks of full-time study, not to mention hundreds of hours of self-study. By far the most comprehensive course and qualification which we offer, the NEBOSH Diploma is therefore not something which will be suitable for everyone. It is not a course which can be taken by someone because "it sounds like a good idea to have it" or "it must be mainly common sense so I won't need to put in that many hours". Only those health and safety practitioners who truly want to undertake it will stand any chance of seeing it through to the end, doing all of the work required of them, performing suitable levels of revision, and passing the examinations and assessments at the conclusion.

The Amount of Work Causes Many to Fail

The reason as to why the national average pass rate for the NEBOSH Diploma health and safety qualification is so much lower than for courses such as the NEBOSH Certificates is because of the level of work involved. Even those with the best of intentions, who actually begin well, are likely to start to struggle to maintain the levels of effort necessary to see the Diploma through to its successful completion.

It is Possible to Achieve the NEBOSH Diploma

Despite all of the forewarnings above, it is certainly not the case that the NEBOSH Diploma is impossible to achieve. Those with the right attitude and the time available to dedicate towards the work, self-study and revision necessary can most certainly accomplish it. But there is no denying or getting away from the fact that it will take a supreme effort to succeed.

For those who do acquire the NEBOSH Diploma, they will be in a distinguished group of individuals who are highly respected and sought-after by potential employers. As such they will typically be at the top of the shortlist when it comes to employment opportunities, and able to command high salaries too as their knowledge and expertise is in high demand.

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