TLM Applied Generals (reformed)

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The QIP covers all TLM Applied General qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.

This is part of a number of Applied General qualifications in STEM subjects offered by TLM.

  • England

The Department for Education (DfE) describes 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 providers, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved applied general qualifications listed.

Education context

Some vocational qualifications offered at Level 3 have been reformed as a result of changes to school performance tables. Vocational qualifications must meet the criteria set by the Department for Education (DfE) to count towards school performance tables. These reforms mean that 91% of the Level 3 qualifications that previously counted towards school performance tables were removed from performance tables in 2016.

For accountability purposes, vocational qualifications are now be classified as:

  • Applied General qualifications: the purpose of these qualifications is to provide a broader vocational education. They are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including endorsement by at least three universities and colleges.
  • Tech level qualifications: the purpose of these qualifications is to lead to a ‘recognised occupation’. Examples provided by the DfE include engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and IT. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including the endorsement of five employers registered at Companies House.

The reform to vocational qualifications is being conducted in two stages: an interim stage and full stage. Each of these stages introduced new criteria for vocational qualifications to meet to count towards school performance tables.

The first teaching of the qualifications reformed on an interim basis was from 2014, and these counted towards school performance tables in 2016. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables, if the qualifications are approved for teaching by the Secretary of State under Section 96.

Read Section 96

The characteristics that must be met by Applied General qualifications as detailed in the DfE criteria are as follows:

  Interim requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables) Full requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)
A. Declared purpose X X
B. Size X X
C. Recognition X X
D. Synoptic assessment   X
E. External assessment   X
F. Grading   X
G. Employer involvement (Tech level qualifications only)   X
H. Progression   X
I. Proven track record   X


These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Size: Applied General qualifications must require at least 150 guided learning hours (GLH). Tech level qualifications must require at least 300 GLH.
  • Appropriate content: A qualification specification must state the specific content that students must pass to achieve the qualification. Mandatory content and the associated contribution to the overall grade must make up at least:
    • 60% of an Applied General
    • 40% of a Tech level
  • Appropriate assessment: Applied General must have at least 40% external assessment. Tech levels must have 30% external assessment. Students will also be given one opportunity to resit.
  • Synoptic assessment.
  • Grading: All vocational qualifications must be graded using three grading points or more, such as Distinction/Merit/Pass.

Further information about Applied General qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet these requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

Regulation of Applied General and Tech Level qualifications

The regulation of Applied General and Tech Level qualifications delivered in England is the responsibility of Ofqual.

The regulatory approach undertaken for Applied General and Tech Level qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Applied Generals, as there are for GCSEs, and AS and A levels currently. Applied Generals is a category introduced by the Department for Education for accountability purposes, rather than a specific type of regulated qualification. To be included in the Applied General category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features outlined in the table above.

Applied Generals must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualification.

Awarding organisation
  • TLM
Qualification code
601/8775/X (TLM Level 3 Certificate in User Skills in Cloud Systems and Services (ITQ))

The qualification consists of five units of study. Three units form the basis of the external examination, and the remaining two units can be chosen from a selection of additional units.

The five units of study make up the coursework component which is a pass/fail component. Once passed, the coursework will comprise 30 marks towards the overall 100 marks required. The examination marks determine the final grade. An E grade will be 30 marks coursework and 20 marks exam, so 60% coursework and 40% exam. An A* grade will be 30 marks coursework and 50 marks exam, so 38% coursework and 62% exam.

The two units which do not inform the examination can be chosen from a selection of 50 plus units, depending on the student’s area of interest. Some of these are based on vendor certification programs from industry/leading IT companies.

Subject areas
  • Cyber security and security administration
  • Digital technology
  • Digital marketing
  • Software systems development
  • Networking
  • Cyber security
  • Information and communication technology
  • Administration and information technology
  • Cyber security and security administration
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

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


A* – E


As noted in 'Education Context' to be classified as an Applied General qualification, the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

  • a minimum of 40% external assessment
  • a minimum of 60% mandatory core content
  • an element of synoptic assessment
  • there is a single resit opportunity

The above are the minimum requirements set out by the Department for Education. However, the application of these may differ by awarding organisation, therefore if providers require full assessment detail, they should review the specification of the individual qualification they are interested in.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

The overall grading is dependent on what score is achieved on the examination, as the coursework carries a fixed value of 30 marks towards the total. The percentage of coursework to exam will depend on the final exam grade. As a minimum, an E grade will be 60% coursework and 40% external exam.

Resit arrangements

Reformed Applied General qualifications are only allowed one resit opportunity per unit. The resit must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

Guided/notional learning hours
150 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Total Qualification Time (TQT): 240 hours

Additional hours are expected beyond the guided learning hours for research and work experience placements, to increase practical skills and knowledge.

UCAS Tariff points

TLM Level 3 Certificate in User Skills in Cloud Systems and Services (ITQ)

Grade Points
A* 28
A 24
B 20
C 16
D 12
E 8


Key issues for UK HE admissions

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

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% in 2016, up from 5.8% in 2015.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Applied General qualifications that meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors, and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains uptodate.
  • The reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer students passing the qualification. Equally, it is likely that grade distributions will change. In light of this, HEPs may wish to review their entry requirements, offer-making, and decision-making strategies in relation to these qualifications.
  • The 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.
  • A larger mandatory core means HEPs that require certain levels of achievement in particular units, or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements, should familiarise themselves with the new content specifications to ensure these requirements are still valid. It should be noted that not all students will be able choose their optional units, and these may be prescribed by the school or college, therefore HEPs should be cautious if requiring achievement in optional modules as part of their entry requirements, offer-making, and decision-making strategies.
Timing of assessments/results for learners

The coursework component of this qualification is moderated on demand, and feedback given to centres to ensure students meet the required standard. Once this standard has been met, centres can request an external exam.

Qualification results are available to centres and candidates as soon as exams have been marked and quality assured.

Certificates are available immediately, and can be reprinted as required. The validation of the award is controlled through a QR code on the certificate that links directly to our database.

Qualification date
Starting from 05 Jan 2016
Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Candidates have been awarded the certificate since June 2017.

Reporting and certification information

ABL quals

The results of TLM Level 3 Certificate in User Skills in Cloud Systems and Services (ITQ) qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

Non-ABL quals

The results of TLM Level 3 Certificate in User Skills in Cloud Systems and Services (ITQ) are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not refect the validity of the qualification. HE providers will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

View the results available through ABL.

TLM also submits results to Ofqual and Raiseonline for the DfE.

Progression information

Applied General qualifications differ in size, some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right in a related area, and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications, for instance, A levels. In addition, some higher education courses may require specific levels of achievement in particular units, or ask for additional qualifications to satisfy subject knowledge requirements.

TLM worked with organisations such as the Open University and Cisco to make sure the skills met both academic and industry needs. In addition, some certification programmes from organisations like CiW, Cisco, and LPI have been used to ensure students gain skills that are industry recognised.

Further information

DfE 2019 Technical Guidance

Qualification specifications: Purpose Statement and Structure

Any other appropriate links: Detailed Delivery Guidance