NCFE Level 3 Creative Media suite

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This QIP covers vocational qualifications which are not listed on the Department for Education (DfE) 16 – 19 Performance Tables for England.

These qualifications are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because they are not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.

  • England
  • 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.

These Level 3 qualifications 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.

They are the substantial qualification component of the study programme and develop students’ knowledge and understanding across a range of creative media practices and students’ collaborative working and entrepreneurial awareness. Students will also develop advanced technical skills and knowledge in one of the following pathways:

  • Social media
  • Graphic design
  • Animation
  • Games
  • Interactive media
  • Film and television
  • Radio

Students will 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 qualifications will enable them to develop higher level learning skills such as independent working, research, self-reflection and collaborative learning.

Education context

These qualifications are designed for post-16 students and fall 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.

These qualifications have 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.

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

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification codes
601/3812/9 (NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Creative Media)
601/3842/7 (NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media)

The Diplomas have three mandatory units and three optional units specific to each pathway.

The Extended Diplomas have three mandatory units and six optional units specific to each pathway.

Subject areas

The mandatory units are:

  • collaboration in the creative sector
  • entrepreneurial skills
  • plan and produce work to a commercial brief

The optional units are available in the following sector pathways:

  • Social media
  • Graphic design
  • Animation
  • Games
  • Interactive media
  • Film and television
  • Radio
  • 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 on a three-country basis.

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


The qualifications are graded Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction*.

The unit grades are aggregated to form the final overall qualification grade. A Distinction* grade will be awarded to students who have consistently achieved a Distinction grade in every unit.


Internally assessed and externally quality assured Portfolio of Evidence.

Students are set assignments. These may be in the form of briefs, scenarios, 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% of the assessment is from the internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.

Resit arrangements

To achieve the NCFE Level 3 in Creative Media suite, students must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes of the units as detailed in the qualification specification.

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

Guided/notional learning hours
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Creative Media (TQT = 600 hours): 360 hours
NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media (TQT = 900 hours): 540 hours
UCAS Tariff points

NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media

Grade Points
D* 84
D 72
M 48
P 32

NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Creative Media

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16


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.

Students may combine the Level 3 Diplomas in Creative Media with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Students 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

These qualifications are current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of these qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

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

Progression information

These qualifications have been developed with a panel of experts to ensure that the content is current and relevant and can lead to employment in the creative and media sector.

The qualifications require students to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills. These skills support progression to higher education.

Further information

The Level 3 Creative Media suite had an operational end date of 31 July 2018. Therefore, the specification is no longer available and we are no longer accepting learner registrations.