NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design (Applied General 2016 and 2017)

  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

The NCFE Certificate in Art and Design is listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables in the Applied General category.

This Level 3 qualification is designed to develop transferable knowledge, skills and understanding through applied learning in art and design.

Applied General qualifications are recognised by at least three higher education providers.

The qualification develops learners’ knowledge and understanding across a range of art and design practices. It aims to extend learners' art and design skills and use of techniques to an advanced level, and enables them to use materials and techniques fluently, competently and safely.

Learners 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.

Education context

Following the Wolf review of vocational qualifications in England in 2011, the Department for Education announced a number of characteristics that Level 3 Applied General qualifications have to demonstrate to feature in performance tables from 2016.

As a result, over 90% of the Level 3 qualifications previously recognised in performance tables will not be recognised in 2016 and beyond.

The new characteristics define purpose, size and recognition.

Qualifications to be included in the performance tables from 2018 will have to meet further requirements in respect of content, assessment, and grading.

Qualifications can be included in the 2017 performance tables according to the 2016 (interim) or 2018 (full) requirements.

The additional 2018 requirements are not reflected in this qualification.

This qualification is designed for use in 16 – 19 study programmes, which are designed to provide students with a structured and challenging individualised learning programme that supports their development and progression in line with their future career plans.

Study programmes normally include substantial academic or applied and technical qualifications, non-qualification activity including work experience, and the study of English and maths where students do not hold a GCSE graded A* – C in these subjects.

They are focused on progression to the next level of education, a Traineeship or Apprenticeship, or other employment.

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification code
500/8551/7 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design)

This qualification has three mandatory units.

Subject areas

The mandatory units are:

  • Materials, techniques and processes in art and design (R/502/4967)
  • Ideas and concepts in art and design (K/502/5736)
  • Execute, present and critically evaluate final art and design work (A/600/4092)
  • Level 3

UK Level 3 Qualification regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)[1]

A levels are Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)[2]

Level 3 is aligned with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6

[1] The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications.

[2] The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.



The qualification is graded Pass, Not yet achieved.


Internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.

Learners are set assignments. These 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, evaluations etc.

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

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

100 per cent of the assessment is by the internally assessed and externally assured portfolio of evidence.

Resit arrangements

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

Learners who aren’t successful can resubmit work within the registration period.

Guided / notional learning hours
160 hours
Guided / notional learning hours notes

250 hours total qualification time (TQT)

UCAS Tariff points

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Learners may combine the Level 3 Certificate in Art and Design with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications.

Applied General qualifications are recognised by at least three higher education providers as fulfilling entry requirements to a range of courses, either by themselves or alongside other Level 3 qualifications.

Holders of this qualification may have limited experience of external assessment.

Timing of assessments and results

Learners are assessed throughout their programme of learning and may submit their portfolio of evidence at any point. Results are provided on a rolling basis.

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Certification information

Certification of this qualification is reported on the basis of the number of certificates achieved over a 12-month period.

Progression information

The NCFE Certificate in Art and Design is designed to support progression to higher education, either by itself or together with other Level 3 qualifications.

The qualification has been developed with a panel of experts to ensure that the content is current and relevant.

It develops transferable knowledge and skills, rather than specialist knowledge and skills and so may not lead directly into employment. 

It requires learners to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills which support progression to higher education.

Most progression opportunities in the art and design sector are on the basis of a portfolio.

Further information

Further information can be found in the qualification specification below: NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Art and Design (500/8551/7)