NCFE Applied Generals (interim-reformed)

Qualification codes
500/8551/7 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design)
500/8123/8 (NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Interactive Media)

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Applied General qualifications as follows:

Applied General qualifications are rigorous, advanced (Level 3) qualifications that allow 16 to 19 year old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills. They are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning. Applied General qualifications allow entry to a range of higher education courses, either by meeting the entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at Level 3 such as A levels. Higher education institutions, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved applied general qualifications listed.

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design (500/8551/7)

The NCFE Certificate in Art and Design qualification is designed to develop transferable knowledge, skills and understanding through applied learning in art and design. It develops students’ knowledge and understanding across a range of art and design practices, aims to extend students' art and design skills and use of techniques to an advanced level, and enables them to use materials and techniques fluently, competently and safely.

Students develop generic, transferable skills valued by employers, such as effective teamwork, planning and health and safety principles, as well as extending their creative and intellectual abilities, e.g. communication, innovation and critical evaluation. 

For those who wish to study at a higher level, the qualification enables them to develop higher level learning skills such as independent working, research, self-reflection and collaborative learning.

NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Interactive Media (QCF) (500/8123/8)

This qualification is designed for students who have a genuine interest in interactive media and wish to extend their existing knowledge and skills with a view to accessing further or higher education in an interactive media related field.

The primary purpose of the NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Interactive Media is to enable students to extend their skills in using interactive media processes to an advanced level. The secondary purpose is to provide a basis for progression to further study.

The objectives of the NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Interactive Media are to:

  • enable students to use equipment and software competently and safely
  • understand how to use interactive media to meet the needs of a design brief
  • investigate different forms of interactive technology
  • plan and produce an interactive media product

These qualifications are graded Pass or Not Yet Achieved.

To achieve the NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Art and Design/NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Interactive Media, students must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes of the units as detailed in the qualification specification.


These qualifications are internally assessed through a portfolio of evidence which is externally quality assured.

Students are set assignments which may be in the form of briefs, problem solving exercises, and research investigations and exploratory work. They are contextualised using realistic scenarios. The assessment may require students to produce a portfolio of evidence which could include research files and sketchbooks, reports, rough and visual designs, storyboards, prototypes, final product, and evaluations.

All assessment is criterion-referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit within a qualification has specified assessment guidance.

Further information

Applied General qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.

Applicants holding interim-reformed Applied General qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.

The popularity of Applied Generals has risen over recent years. The entry rate for the combined BTEC only and A level and BTEC groups was 6.0 per cent in 2016, up from 5.8 per cent in 2015.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Applied General qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • The fully-reformed and interim-reformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
  • The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the fully-reformed versions and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

View DfE's technical guidance

Read more details in the full specification on the NCFE website