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How hard is the NEBOSH International Diploma?


The NEBOSH International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is an intense qualification. So, it’s no surprise one of the most common questions our course advisors get asked is “how hard is the course?”

Your ability to study and current level of knowledge will naturally play a big impact on how difficult you find the course. But, there’s also other barriers that you may come against that will impact how hard you find the course.

Barriers to learning are common and are often defined as “anything that stands in the way of you being able to learn effectively". Don’t let that put you off though. Instead of barriers, think of them as obstacles to be overcome. Like so many things in life, there are various ways to overcome obstacles.

Level of Health and Safety Knowledge

Find out how hard the NEBOSH International Diploma isThe NEBOSH International Diploma is for health and safety professionals who want to expand their knowledge at a higher level. It's designed to give you a greater understanding of key health and safety issues such as: workplace hazards, management systems, fault trees, reliability, event trees, fire prevention and occupational health. It builds on the foundations of the NEBOSH International General Certificate. 

The course is set at an academic level and is considered to be comparable to Honours Degree standard. The amount of information that you have to absorb is vast, and you’ll have to prove that you understand it.

Like any academic course, the taught element is only a small part of the course. For the most part you’ll have to do your own independent reading on topics. Some topics you’ll have already covered in the NEBOSH International General Certificate course, but the level of detail you need to contain within your answers in the exams will be much greater in content.

To give yourself the best chance, it’s recommended that you complete the NEBOSH International General Certificate. This will make sure you’re familiar with key health and safety concepts, as well as the NEBOSH exam process.

It’s also a good idea to look at the ILO website. Download a document to see if you can understand it, or more importantly, how long it has taken you to understand it.

Language Obstacles

To pass the NEBOSH International Diploma, you’ll need to have a good level of English, especially in reading and writing. You’ll be expected to read and understand technical journals written in English and relay what you’ve learnt by answering long, essay-type questions. Remember, if the examiner can’t understand your answer, they can’t award you any marks.

Ask your course provider for a sample of the course to get an idea of the language used. Examiner reports on past exam papers are also available which will show you how much detail is required in your answers.

Time to Study

How much time do you need to study the NEBOSH International Diploma?To do well in the NEBOSH International Diploma you'll need a desire to learn, dedication and perseverance. Time is by far the biggest obstacle to overcome. The course has a recommended study time of 466 hours; 226 taught hours and about 240 hours of private study.

Planning your study time is essential to getting the most out of your learning experience, so you’ll need to be organised. Short, regular study sessions are more effective than long, sporadic ones. So, you should expect to dedicate an hour or so to studying every day…and more on the weekend.

To help with this obstacle, we’ve designed our online course to include progress checks, course maps, webinars and regular check-ins from your tutor to make sure you’re on track with your learning. If your employer is supportive, it’s also worth asking them if they could spare you some time at work to help with your studies and revision.

If you haven’t studied for some time, take look at some of the study guide books that are out there. These will refresh your skill sets on studying, taking notes and revision techniques.

Above all, you’ll need to have a willingness to make sacrifices, especially with your free time.


To achieve your NEBOSH International Diploma you’ll need to pass 3 x written exams. These must be taken under exam conditions in an approved NEBOSH exam centre. Before you sign up to the course, make sure you check where your nearest exam centre is; you may find you have to factor in time and cost for travelling.

As we’ve mentioned, to pass the exams you must be able to both understand and articulate the concepts contained in the syllabus. At the start of each unit there are the learning outcomes set out for the topic. It’s these learning outcomes that the examiner can ask questions on, so master these and you’ll be well on your way to passing the exam.

Many learners get nervous over the thought of sitting exams. This is completely normal, especially if you haven’t studied in a long time. But don't worry, you'll get plenty of support and exam preparation with your course. 

Despite these obstacles, research carried out by NEBOSH of successful NEBOSH International Diploma students showed that 100% of respondents would recommend the qualification to others. Although a challenge, the NEBOSH International Diploma rewards your efforts by opening doors to exciting new job opportunities, on-the-job development and recognition by employers all over the world. 

Take your NEBOSH Diploma course online  

Build a successful long-term career and gain professional recognition in health and safety with our online course

With our NEBOSH Diploma online course you can learn when and where you want, on your computer or mobile device. This interactive NEBOSH Diploma course helps you pass the exams with tutor support, revision webinars and mini mock exams.

Find out why you should take our NEBOSH Diploma online course

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"I really enjoyed it, especially the interaction between the tutor and students."

NEBOSH International Diploma, Astutis online learning delegate