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EQF-Levels and the Rail Career Matrix


The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) has been developed by the EU. It was set up in 2008 and revised in 2017. It works like a translation tool for different national qualifications in order to make national qualifications better comparable. The EQF consists of 8 qualification levels for which the learning outcomes are defined, e.g. the knowledge a person has and the person’s skills. (Source:

Table 1 shows level 5 to 8 of the EQF which are relevant in higher education and in the ASTONRail project. National examples for the different levels can be found at

Table 1: EQF-levels (Source for knowledge, skills, responsibility and autonomy in the different levels:

Knowledge Skills Responsiblity and Autonomy Examples
Level 5 Comprehensive, specialised, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge A comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems Exercise management and supervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change; review and develop performance of self and others For country specific examples see
Level 6 Advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles Advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study Manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision-making in unpredictable work or study contexts; take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups For country specific examples see
Level 7 Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research. Critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields Specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields Manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches; take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams For country specific examples see
Level 8 Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields The most advanced and specialised skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice Demonstrate substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research For country specific examples see

Rail Career Matrix

The Rail Career Matrix (RCM) includes three responsibility levels (strategic, tactical and operational) and seven activity domains (infrastructure, vehicles, operations, signalling, economics, administration, academia) and lists job roles accordingly (source:

Figure 1: Rail Career Matrix

In the ASTONRail project the rail related study paths at the partner universities have been analysed, showing which Post Master or Master course is accessable from which Master or Bachelor course. By showing which level of the RCM and which career graduates can achieve, a career map scheme has been developed for each partner university. Figure 2 shows how the career map has been visualized in the career map scheme. For more information see Intellectual Output 3 of WG 3.

Career map scheme

Figure 2: Career map scheme

Combining all rail related career paths of the ASTONRail partner universities the following picture can be developed, showing from which EQF-level which career level from the RCM can be achieved for graduates from the partner universitie's study courses.

From EQF-level 5 (not offered by partner universities) starting a career in the operational level in railways is realistic. Graduates from Bachelor's courses (level 6) of the partner universities can work in the operational and in the tactical level of the rail careers matrix. Graduates from Master's courses (level 7) and post master courses (level 8) are prepared to start a career in the tactical and in the strategic RCM level.

Figure 3: Combination of EQF-level and RCM career level

astonrail_handbook/hei_teachers/eqf_levels.txt · Last modified: 2023/06/22 16:52 by martin_l