About the Award Structure


There are three levels of the Award: Bronze, Silver and Gold. At each level, participants must set themselves personal goals in each section. These goals should be achievable and progressive, and ultimately allow the young person to feel a sense of achievement when they complete each section. It is important that the Award Leader and Assessor help the young person identify and try to achieve these goals.


The Award has four sections designed to provide a balanced programme of personal development.



Its aim is to understand the value of giving service to others and their community.

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Its aim is to encourage the development of personal interests, creativity or practical skills.

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Physical Recreation

Its aim is to encourage participation in sport and other physical recreation for the improvement of health and fitness.

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Adventurous Journey

Its aim is to encourage a spirit of adventure and discovery whilst undertaking a journey in a group.

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Residential Project

This is an additional requirement to complete the Gold level. Its aim is to broaden participants' horizons through involvement with others in a residential setting.

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Participant age requirements

The Award is available to young people between their 14th and 25th birthdays. If a participant is unable to complete their Award before their 25th birthday because of illness, accident or other unavoidable circumstances, application for an extension needs to be made by the participant’s Award operator to the relevant national office or to the International Award Foundation.

Once participants are above these minimum ages, they may choose to enter the Award at any level. At Bronze level, if a young person is a few months younger than 14, but they are part of a peer group where the majority are 14 or older, then some discretion is given to national operators to allow them to start the Bronze level with the rest of their peer group. Independent Award Centres and Independent Award Open Centres are required to obtain permission from The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation.

Discretion and permission also applies to allow participants who have completed their Bronze level, but who have not yet reached the age of 15, to make a start on their Silver level without imposing a delay.

No activity undertaken before a participant's 16th birthday counts towards their Gold level.

Minimum timescale for each level by section

Service Skill Physical Recreation Plus... Adventurous Journey
Bronze 3 months 3 months 3 months All participants must do an extra 3 months in either Physical Recreation or Skills or Service 2 days + 1 night
Silver 6 months 6 months 6 months Non Bronze holders must do an extra 6 months in either Physical Recreation or Skills or Service 3 days + 2 nights
Gold 12 months 12 months 12 months Non Silver holders must do an extra 6 months in either Physical Recreation or Skills or Service 4 days + 3 nights
* Plus additional requirement of 5 days & 4 night Residential Project

The Award’s requirements and structure have remained largely unchanged over the years because they provide for a straightforward and effective framework that allows young people to commit to and experience activities that have a positive impact on their lives. The requirement of commitment over time is the key element to ensuring that young people realise the experiential learning cycle advocated by Kurt Hahn.

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