AIM Awards Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills

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This QIP covers a vocational qualification which is not listed on the Department for Education (DfE) 16 – 19 performance tables for England.

This qualification is not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because it is not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales

Vocational qualifications are either work-related qualifications designed to enable students to gain the skills required to perform a particular job , or qualifications that may be taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.

Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the DfE performance tables, if approved for teaching to 16-19 year olds by the Secretary of State for Education in England under Section 96, where this is in the best interests of individual students.

This employer-led qualification has been designed to provide students with the broad range of skills to enable them to progress to degree level study in the three occupational areas; games, animation and VFX.

The qualification structure enables learning to encompass the development of STEAM skills; sophisticated technical skills in animation, visual effects, games design, principles of 3D design, art, maths and product programming, as well as industry working practice, project and production management and a knowledge of the ecosystem of the industries.

The content of the qualification has been supported by a number of universities and colleges as supporting entrance to appropriate degree courses. It is currently being delivered by FE Colleges across England.

Education context

This qualification is designed for post-16 students and falls under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). A significant number of students will undertake these qualifications post-19.

Following its 2012 review of post-19 qualifications the ESFA removed 1,800 qualifications from public funding and a further 1,000 in 2014. In March 2014 the government published a Reform Plan for Vocational Education.

This qualification has not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old students), however the ESFA has implemented a new set of business rules for the approval of qualifications for funding, based on the 2013 Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications in England. These rules recognise that adults may have different needs, aspirations and ambitions to younger people and include that qualifications should be:

  • relevant to individuals and employers and affordable for all sizes of business and for individuals
  • rigorous and based on a robust future-looking occupational standard designed and assessed by the sector
  • recognised as worthy of investment, giving a clear signal of the economically valuable skills, knowledge and understanding required in an occupation now and in the future.

Regulation of vocational qualifications

The regulation of vocational qualifications is the responsibility of the respective regulators in each UK country – Ofqual (England), CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland) SQA (Scotland) and Qualifications Wales (Wales). The regulatory approach undertaken for vocational qualifications is different from A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification criteria for vocational qualifications, as there currently are for GCSEs, AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

Awarding organisation
  • AIM Awards
Qualification code
601/6428/1 (Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills)

Students must achieve all mandatory units at Level 3 to achieve this qualification.

Assessment of this qualification is through completion of an assessment pack as well as passing two externally set written examinations and an externally set synoptic project.

Subject areas

Mandatory content/units:

  • The Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • Maths and Logic Fundamentals for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • Fundamental Product Programming Skills
  • Art Fundamentals for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • Fundamental Animation Skills for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • VFX Fundamentals for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • 3D Tools: Principles and Practice
  • Core Principles of Game Design
  • Images and Sounds for Imagined Worlds
  • Story/Playboarding
  • Production Management for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • Business and Common Working Practice in the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • Emerging Technologies/Trends in the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
  • Creative and Technical 3D Modelling
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, though many may be offered primarily on a three-country basis.

Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.


Pass, Merit, Distinction


Students are assessed via:

  • Maths examination
  • Programming examination
  • Reflective blog
  • Written assignment
  • Asset development portfolio
  • Externally set synoptic project, showcase portfolio
  • Research report
Contribution of assessment components to overall grade
  • External Maths examination contributes to 7.5% of overall grade
  • External Programming examination contributes to 7.5% of overall grade
  • Reflective blog contributes to 15% of overall grade
  • Written assignment contributes to 5% of overall grade
  • Asset development portfolio contributes to 20% of overall grade
  • Externally set Synoptic project contributes to 25% of overall grade
  • Showcase portfolio contributes to 12.5% of overall grade
  • Research report contributes to 7.5% of overall grade
Resit arrangements

Students can resit the examinations a minimum of 20 working days from the original examination to allow for further teaching and learning activities to take place at the centre.

Guided/notional learning hours
1080 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

1080 GLH is the same size as three A levels. 

UCAS Tariff points

Unknown qualification

Grade Points


Key issues for UK HE admissions

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing vocational qualifications that are not listed on the DfE 16-19 performance tables for England:

  • Some of these qualifications are occupational, and may not be designed specifically for progression to HE.
  • Applicants holding these qualifications may be school or college leavers, however, some may be more mature students who are likely to have other relevant experience alongside these qualifications.
  • These qualifications may have been taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
  • If they are presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.

The first cohort of students with AIM Awards Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills completed their qualifications in June /July 2017 and applied to higher education for September 2017 entry.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Students are assessed at the end of the course in May of the second year.

UCAS applicants will have their results sent directly to UCAS either before or on the same day as A level students.

Qualification dates notes

This is a current qualification.

Reporting and certification information

The results of this qualification are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

As a new qualification, statistics on learner registrations and certification will be available after the first teaching year.

Progression information

Students may progress into higher education to any games, animation or VFX degree or higher Apprenticeship or into employment.