UAL Applied Generals (reformed)

Last updated
Last verified
The QIP covers all UAL Awarding Body Applied General qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.
Countries
  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland
Purpose

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 providers, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved Applied General qualifications listed.

The UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art & Design provides post-16 students with the skills, knowledge, and understanding necessary to progress into further or higher education and training. The skills developed throughout these qualifications may also support students to progress into appropriate entry level roles in employment, and training programmes or apprenticeships in the creative industry. They provide an opportunity for those who have an interest in the visual arts to explore, develop, and test their creativity within a qualification structure which is stimulating and demanding, and provides a supportive transition from further to higher education.

The content of the qualifications was developed collaboratively with experts from universities, further education colleges, and sixth form colleges.

There are no formal entry requirements for these qualifications. However, it is recommended that students have a minimum of four GCSEs, at grade 4 or grade C or above, at least one of which should be in an art and design subject, or the equivalent Level 2 qualification in an appropriate subject. There are no age restrictions for these qualifications. The majority of students are 16 – 18 year olds, but some are 19 and over. The UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art & Design are not currently available as part of an apprenticeship.

Who supports the qualifications?

Letters of support can be found on the UAL Awarding Body website at: www.arts.ac.uk/about-ual/awarding-body/qualifications.

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 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. 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 (Technical 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 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 Generals 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 General 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 qualifications.


UAL Awarding Body designs and awards creative qualifications. Qualifications are developed in collaboration with education and industry partners to ensure they are responsive and relevant to industry needs. They are delivered by further education colleges, sixth forms, adult education colleges, schools, and universities. UAL is selective about who it works with, and actively seeks out providers that are innovative, creative, and committed to arts education. UAL Awarding Body qualifications have high retention and achievement rates, because they are flexible and equip students with the skills required to progress.

Awarding organisation
  • UAL Awarding Body
Qualification codes
603/1457/6 (UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art & Design)
603/1459/X (UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art & Design )
Structure

The UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art & Design focus on developing students’ understanding and application of visual language and the creative process, to enable them to develop creative ideas, solutions, and outcomes. They also provide students with the opportunity to further extend and develop their knowledge, understanding, and skills of visual language and the creative process within a specialist practice. They comprise two units:

  • Unit 1: Diagnostic investigation in Art and Design – 600 GLH
  • Unit 2: Specialist Practice in Art and Design – 560 GLH

In Unit 1, students will undertake a diagnostic investigation into art and design practices. This diagnostic investigation allows students to explore a wide range of art and design disciplines as part of their journey to, or reinforcement of, a specialist practice in Unit 2. Students will demonstrate their learning by responding to a creative brief that is set and marked by UAL Awarding Body.

In Unit 2, students will further develop their skills and knowledge of the creative process in art and design, but in a particular area of practice, such as fashion, photography, or graphics. Students will demonstrate an increased level of autonomy, and identify a self-initiated project, in which they can demonstrate the culmination of learning across both units of the qualification. Both units are mandatory to achieve the qualifications.

Subject areas
  • Art and design
  • Arts
  • Art and design: design
Levels
  • 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.

Grading

Awarding the qualification grade

UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art & Design

The final grade for the UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art & Design is determined entirely by the grade achieved in Unit 1. The final grade for this qualification is based on a structure of Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction.

UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art & Design

The grades for Unit 1 and Unit 2 are based on a structure of Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction. The final grade for the UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art & Design is determined by aggregating the grades achieved in both units on a 50/50 basis, to be awarded one of five grades Pass, High Pass, Merit, High Merit, or Distinction.

Both units are weighted equally, due to their significance in developing competence in art and design practice. The table below shows how both units are aggregated to form the overall grade of the qualification.

Unit 1 (weighted 50%)

Unit 2 (weighted 50%)

Qualification grade

Distinction

Distinction

Distinction

Merit

Distinction

High Merit

Pass

Distinction

Merit

Distinction

Merit

High Merit

Merit

Merit

Merit

Pass

Merit

High Pass

Distinction

Pass

Merit

Merit

Pass

High Pass

Pass

Pass

Pass

Assessment

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.

Assessment and moderation

Assessment is the process of measuring students’ skills, knowledge, and understanding against the standards set in a qualification.

The assessment for the UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art & Design consists of one type of assessment:

  • External assessment – tasks are set, assessed, and graded by UAL Awarding Body, and are taken under controlled conditions

The assessment for the UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art & Design consists of two types of assessment:

  • External assessment – tasks are set, assessed, and graded by UAL Awarding Body, are taken under controlled conditions, and are completed at the end of Unit 1
  • Internal assessment – students produce a portfolio of evidence, which is assessed and graded by centre staff, and externally moderated by UAL Awarding Body at the end of Unit 2.

External assessment

The single external assessment (Unit 1) is:

  • 100% of the grade of the Diploma
  • 50% of the grade of the Extended Diploma

The design of this assessment ensures there is sufficient stretch and challenge, enabling the assessment of knowledge, understanding, and skills at the end of the learning period. The external assessment is synoptic and is based on set tasks that require students to demonstrate that they can identify and use an appropriate selection of skills, techniques, concepts, theories and knowledge from across Unit 1 in an integrated way.

Setting the assessment

The external assessment is set and marked by UAL Awarding Body, and assesses students’ skills, knowledge, and understanding of the learning undertaken in Unit 1 – Diagnostic Investigation in Art and Design. The external assessment is in the style of set tasks. UAL Awarding Body requires students to demonstrate their understanding and application of knowledge and skills, through the completion of a series of tasks, and in response to a set theme. Students must have a thorough understanding of unit content prior to commencing the external assessment. Work produced prior to external assessment must not be used as evidence in the external assessment.

Conducting the assessment

The external assessment will involve:

  1. A preparatory period (ten hours recommended), following receipt of the set brief, students will conduct initial research, planning, and prepare their response to a series of tasks.
  2. Supervised time (173 hours), following the preparatory period, students must complete 173 hours of work under supervised conditions, and undertake further research, experiment with a range of materials, processes, and techniques, and produce their final outcome or series of outcomes, informed by their preparatory work. The first three hours of supervised time must be consecutive, and should be used by students to complete their project proposal. Preparatory work and the rest of the work produced in the supervised time must be stored securely in between sessions of supervised time. The work produced during the supervised time must be clearly identified as such.
  3. Invigilated time (12 hours), students must complete a number of specific tasks in a set time, under invigilated conditions, and prepare their work and complete their final evaluation. Further instructions on how to administer the external assessment, and the conditions under which it must be sat, are issued with the external assessment materials.

Internal assessment

The single internal assessment is 50% of the grade of the Extended Diploma. The internal assessment is also synoptic, and requires students to demonstrate they can identify and use an appropriate selection of skills, techniques, concepts, theories, and knowledge from across the entire qualification in an integrated way.

Setting the assessment

The assessment approach is set by UAL Awarding Body, and is designed to assess students’ skills, knowledge, and understanding of the learning undertaken in Unit 1 and Unit 2. Students must develop a self-initiated project within the parameters set by UAL Awarding Body.

A student’s achievement will be assessed through their portfolio of evidence. The portfolio of evidence must include:

  • a completed project proposal
  • records of planning, research, and ideas development
  • records of analysis and reflection
  • records of project development and realisation
  • records of presentation and communication
  • setting final evaluation

Students should be encouraged to develop the most appropriate evidence to demonstrate their achievement of the unit learning outcomes and grading criteria. However, recommended forms of evidence could include: 

  • records of planning, research, and ideas development presented in workbooks, digital format, notebooks, or personal reflective journals 
  • records of analysis and reflection presented in workbooks, digital format, notebooks, or personal reflective journals
  • records of project development and realisation presented in workbooks, digital format, visual development work, images, designs, media, artefacts, notebooks, or personal reflective journals 
  • records of presentations and communications presented in workbooks, digital format, notebooks, or personal reflective journals. 

UAL Awarding Body has created a template and supporting guidance for the project proposal which must be used for Unit 2, and must form part of the assessment evidence. UAL Awarding Body maintains quality oversight of assessments through the process of external moderation, whereby trained external moderators sample assessment and grading decisions to ensure they are in line with the required standards.

Preparing for assessment

Students must have a thorough understanding of unit content prior to commencing the assessment. Centres will need to ensure that they specify times in which all students must complete specific tasks, or guide their independent working over a number of weeks. With both approaches, tutors must give students formative feedback on their progress at defined points. UAL Awarding Body also requires centres to set controls for the time, resources, supervision, and opportunities for collaboration.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art & Design

The final grade is determined entirely by the grade achieved in Unit 1. The final grade for this qualification is based on a structure of Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction.

UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art & Design

The grades for Unit 1 and Unit 2 are based on a structure of Fail, Pass, Merit, and Distinction. The final grade is determined by aggregating the grades achieved in both units on a 50/50 basis, to be awarded one of five grades Pass, High Pass, Merit, High Merit, or Distinction.

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
Diploma: 600 hours
Extended Diploma: 1160 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Diploma: 780 TQT

Extended Diploma: 1620 TQT

UCAS Tariff points

UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art & Design

Grade Points
D 168
HM 144
M 120
HP 96
P 72

UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art & Design

Grade Points
D 84
M 60
P 36

<

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 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 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 on their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
  • A larger mandatory core means HEPs who that require certain levels of achievement in particular units, or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements that 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

Timing of assessments is at the discretion of the centre. 

Results are not provided at a fixed time. The centres upload the results, the External Moderator must verify the results within five days, and UAL Awarding Body aims to deliver certificates within ten days from verification.

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2017
Qualification dates notes

These qualifications are current. The qualifications will be first awarded in August 2018.

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.

UAL Awarding Body submits data returns to UCAS in June for UAL Level 3 Diplomas. 

UAL Awarding Body submits certification information to Ofqual, which is accessed by the Northern Ireland regulator, CCEA. UAL Awarding Body also submits certification information to the Department for Education.

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.


The primary purpose of the UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art & Design is to aid students to progress to further or higher learning. However, the transferable skills and knowledge developed as part of this qualification will support students to progress into appropriate entry level roles, or higher apprenticeships in the creative sector.

The content of the qualifications was developed collaboratively with experts from universities, further education colleges, and sixth form colleges to ensure they provide students with the skills, knowledge, and understanding they need to progress into further and higher education.

The qualifications will support students to progress to a range of further education and vocational courses, such as:

  • UAL Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design – Foundation Studies
  • UAL Level 4 Diploma in Art and Design – Foundation Studies higher education

The following subject areas could complement the courses:

  • Film studies
  • Media studies
  • Music
  • IT
  • Art history
  • Sociology
  • Performance
  • Maths
  • English
  • Modern languages