Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE)

In need of a boost to your job or college application? The Duke of Edinburgh's Award could be the answer, and hopefully you'll end up with some new best friends and great memories.

Boy lost in the woods

Er...Prince Philip? Where are you?

What is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award?

It’s an award/qualification you can get, organised by the Queen’s hubby. It looks great on your CV. Mainly because it’s pretty hard to complete and employers know this. If you’re 16 and over, you go for the ‘Gold’ award. This usually takes between 12 and 18 months. Once finished, you’ll be invited to St James Palace to celebrate with the Duke of Edinburgh himself.

What does DofE involve?

You have to complete five elements to get the gold award. These are:


This bit’s all about helping others. That could be volunteering to work with children, elderly people, providing first aid, helping in a charity shop or at a drop-in centre. The only stipulation is it has to be helping other people, and you can’t get paid for it. For the gold award, you need to volunteer for 12-18 months for at least an hour a week.


This involves a skill you develop. It can be pretty much any type of hobby or activity, from learning sign language, photography, to playing an instrument. You have to prove you’ve broadened your knowledge and increased your expertise in whatever you choose. Your skill can’t be something physical, as that’s a different category.

Physical recreation

This means doing something that gets your heart pumping for at least an hour a week. This category is about getting out and doing something: from trampolining, roller blading, or Tae Kwon-Do to more traditional sports like football, swimming and running.


Probably what the DofE award is best known for, this is the massive trek you’ll have to do. Sneaky hitchhiking is strictly not allowed. You’ll have to pick a spot to get to, and plan and train for getting there. For the gold award, your expedition must take four days and three nights long.


For the Gold level of the award, you’ll have to go away for at least five days and four nights, with other people your age you’ve never met before.

What do I get out of doing DofE?

The reason so many people do their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is because it’s recognised and well-regarded by tutors and employers. Having a DofE Gold Award on your CV is a very quick way of telling potential employers that you are a committed and motivated person who doesn’t spend their entire life watching DVD boxsets while eating pizza.

On top of that, the DofE can get you doing stuff you wouldn’t normally do at the same time as making new friends. Most people who complete their DofE come away with positive memories from their experience, and many continue volunteering or taking part in a physical activity long after they completed their award.

How do I get involved?

Unfortunately you won’t be going hiking with the Duke of Edinburgh himself. Instead you get involved in the scheme through one of the 300 ‘operating authorities’ that exist around the country. These range from schools, youth clubs, university groups, national bodies (like the Scouts or Air Training Corps), businesses and sometimes groups set up purely to work on their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. If you already belong to an organisation that operates the DofE, you’ll usually get involved through them, but you don’t have to. You can find local operating authorities on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme website.

Photo of lost boy in woods by Shutterstock

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015