NCFE Level 3 Photography suite

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NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Photography

NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography

  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

These qualifications are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables.

These Level 3 qualifications are designed for learners who want to further develop their photography knowledge and skills.

They develop learners’ knowledge, skills and understanding in areas such as camera techniques, image processing and manipulation, history of photography and styles of photography such as portrait, location and documentary.

These are qualifications which aim to help learners develop the skills and understanding required to work in the sector or to undertake further learning.

Learners will develop generic, transferable skills valued by employers, such as, communication, planning and health and safety principles.

They will also research job opportunities or freelance options and assess their strengths in areas such as positive attitude, punctuality and self-motivation.

In addition, the requirement to complete optional units means that learners are able to develop more specialist knowledge and skills in particular areas.

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.

The qualifications have been endorsed by the Royal Photographic Society, and they offer exemption for the Licentiateship of the RPS.

Education context

The NCFE Level 3 Photography qualifications are designed for use within 16 – 19 study programmes, which 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 mathematics 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 codes
601/0376/0 (NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Photography)
601/0377/2 (NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography)

To achieve the Level 3 Certificate in Photography, learners must achieve a minimum of 26 credits from Group A and a minimum of one unit from Group C.

To achieve the Level 3 Diploma in Photography, learners must achieve a minimum of 73 credits: five units from Group A; two units from Group B and two units from Group C.

Subject areas

Group A units

  • Use camera techniques to creatively control visual outcomes (M/505/3067)
  • Print and present a portfolio of photographs (T/505/3068) Plan and complete a photographic project (A/505/3069)
  • Safety in the workplace for photography (M/505/3070)
  • Awareness of employment in the Creative Media sector (L/600/9037)

Group B units

  • Image processing, manipulation and storage (T/505/3071)
  • The history of photography (A/505/3072)
  • Image documentation and storage (K/505/3066)

Group C units

  • Studio photography (M/505/3084)
  • Documentary photography (T/505/3085)
  • Location photography (A/505/3086)
  • Portrait photography (F/505/3073)
  • Experimental photographic imaging (J/505/3074)
  • Level 3

The qualification is graded Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction*.

The unit grades and external assessment grades are aggregated to form the final overall qualification grade.

A Distinction* grade will be awarded to learners who have consistently achieved a Distinction grade in every unit.


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. They are contextualised using realistic scenarios. The assessment may require students to write a report, write a business proposal, deliver a presentation, or make conclusions based on extensive research into a practical investigation.

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 assessment is by the internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.

Resit arrangements

To achieve the NCFE Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Photography, 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 notes

NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Photography is 165 – 175 GLH.  Total qualification time is 260 hours.

NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography is 450 – 495 GLH. Total qualification time is 730 hours.

UCAS Tariff points

NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography

Grade Points
P 48

NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Photography

Grade Points
P 24
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Learners may combine the Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Photography with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications.

Learners holding these qualifications may have limited experience of external assessment.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

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.

Reporting and certification information

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

Progression information

This suite of qualifications has been developed in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) to ensure that the content is current and relevant. The RPS has endorsed these qualifications and they provide a recognised exemption for the Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society (LRPS).

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