UAL Applied Generals (interim-reformed)

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The QIP covers all UAL Applied General (interim-reformed) qualifications that do not meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and do not contribute towards performance measures from 2018.

These qualifications meet the interim-reformed requirements for 2016 and/or 2017 performance tables.

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

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.

UAL Level 3 Diplomas and Extended Diplomas are qualifications which have been designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to access and progress to higher levels of study and employment in the creative sectors: art and design, creative and media production, and the performing and production arts.

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) in order 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 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 in order 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. However, only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. The qualifications listed in this QIP are classified as Applied General qualifications however do not meet the full criteria to count towards performance tables from 2018 in respect of content, assessment and grading. 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 2016 UAL Applied Generals meet the interim requirements set by the DfE and therefore may be offered in schools and colleges alongside the 2018 fully reformed versions:


Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose



B. Size



C. Recognition



D. Synoptic Assessment



E. External Assessment



F. Grading



G. Employer involvement (Tech Level Qualifications only)



H. Progression



I. Proven Track Record




As noted in the table above, the 2016 and 2018 versions of Applied General qualifications are fundamentally different.

For more information on the specific changes to 2018 Applied Generals, please refer to a reformed QIP. Please also see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’ for some additional considerations when assessing these qualifications.

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

Read more information 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, 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, as outlined in the table above.

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

These qualifications were created for the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and have been updated to meet the requirements of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

Awarding organisation
  • UAL Awarding Body
Qualification codes
600/2826/9 (Extended Diploma in Art and Design)
600/2827/0 (Diploma in Art and Design)
500/5316/4 (Diploma in Art and Design – Foundation Studies)
601/3987/0 (Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology)
601/3986/9 (Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology)
601/1790/4 (Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts)
601/1780/1 (Diploma in Performing and Production Arts)

UAL Level 3 (RQF) qualifications are unit-based qualifications in a range of subjects.

There are two sizes of qualifications:

  • Diploma
  • Extended Diploma

The Diploma is the first year of the Extended Diploma.

The structure and number of units that make up a qualification varies according to the requirements of the sector. However most qualifications comprise all mandatory units with the final summative unit of the Extended Diploma being offered at Level 3 or Level 4.

Subject areas
  • Art and design
  • Creative media production
  • Performing arts
  • Music

Students are able to specialise in a particular pathway within each of these subjects as appropriate.

  • 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.


Individual units are graded: Pass, Merit, Distinction.

The Diploma and Extended Diploma are graded overall: Pass, Merit, Distinction.


All units for these qualifications are internally assessed. They do not currently include any externally-assessed units.

Students are set assignments/projects which may be in the form of briefs, scenarios, problem solving exercises, and/or research investigations. Where possible they are contextualised using realistic, work-related scenarios and may be provided by local employers.

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

Assessment and grading are subject to internal and external moderation.

Providers wishing to deliver UAL qualifications require approval from the awarding organisation.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Students must achieve all of the assessment criteria to achieve the a Pass grade.

Students are awarded a Merit or Distinction qualification grade if they achieve all of the assessment criteria listed in the unit, in addition to the grade criteria listed against the Merit and Distinction bands.

Resit arrangements

Students will only be allowed one opportunity to resit each internally-assessed unit before being awarded a Fail.

Guided/notional learning hours
Minimum GLH for the Extended Diploma: 1140 hours
Minimum GLH for the Diploma: 600 hours
Minimum GLH for Foundation Studies: 680 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes
  GLH range (hours) TQT range (hours)
Extended Diploma 1,140 – 1,170 2,030 – 2,075
Diploma 600 – 630 1,040 – 1,085
Foundation 680 1,200

All UAL Level 3 qualifications have been assigned a Total Qualification Time (TQT) which is the total amount of time that it could reasonably be expected for a student to achieve and demonstrate the outcomes of the qualifications to an acceptable standard.

TQT comprises Guided Learning Hours (supervised time) and independent study time.

UCAS Tariff points

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Grade Points

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Grade Points

Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)

Grade Points
D 112
M 96
P 80

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Grade Points


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.

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 applicants holding at least one BTEC (either alone or in combination with A levels) 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.
Timing of assessments/results for learners

All UAL qualifications are assessed and moderated annually. Assessments take place between May and July.

Results are released shortly after the moderation visit has taken place, and therefore are available between May and July.

Qualification dates notes

The Diploma in Art and Design – Foundation Studies will be a legacy qualification from 2016 and no longer be offered thereafter.

All other qualifications will be legacy from 2017 and no longer be offered thereafter.

Reporting and certification information

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

View the results available through ABL

Certification results are submitted quarterly to both the Department for Education (submission of regulated qualifications achieved) and the regulator Ofqual (collection of certificates awarded in vocational qualifications).

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.

UAL qualifications develop transferable knowledge and skills, rather than specialist knowledge and skills and so may not lead directly into employment.

Some highly selective universities and colleges ask for Tariff points that require a Distinction grade. However, most progression opportunities in the sectors served by UAL qualifications are on the basis of a portfolio.

Progression information is captured at the point of results submission and is published annually in the UAL's chief examiner reports (by qualification).

View the UAL Chief Examiner's reports