New qualification – Level 3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art & Design

From September 2017, UAL Awarding Body will be running for the first time, the following qualifications:

  • UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art & Design (603/1457/6)
  • UAL Level 3 Applied General Extended Diploma in Art & Design (603/1459/X)

These are designed to be ‘Applied General’ qualifications that provide post-16 students with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to progress into further education, higher education and training or employment.

Both qualifications include external assessment and have been designed to meet the criteria for inclusion in 2019’s 16–19 performance tables.

You can find out more about the qualifications on the UAL Awarding Body website.

Are these qualifications replacements for the existing Level 3 Art & Design qualifications?

No, there are currently no plans to remove the existing Level 3 qualification and centres will be able to choose which qualification they would like to run.

Centres are still able to deliver the existing qualifications:

  • UAL Level 3 Diploma in Art & Design (600/2827/0)
  • UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art & Design (600/2826/9)

UAL Awarding Body will notify centres when they can transition over to the new qualifications.

When will we know if the new qualifications are approved on performance tables?
UAL Awarding Body will be informed by the DfE of whether the qualifications have been included in performance tables by the end of August. We will notify centres of the outcome via our September newsletter.

Who will be delivering the new qualifications?
A small number of centres have been selected to pilot the qualification in September 2017.

What if I want to deliver the qualification?
These qualifications will only be available at selected centres during the pilot year. If you are interested in delivering one of these qualifications in the future, please register your interest with Ioanna Saltaferidi at

UCAS tariff points for Level 3 Music and Fashion Business qualifications

We are pleased to confirm that our Level 3 Fashion Business Retail and Level 3 Music Performance and Production qualifications have been allocated UCAS Tariff points. Students applying for HE courses starting from September 2018 onwards will be able to access the following tariff points:

Music Performance and Production

Grade Level 3 Diploma UCAS points Level 3 Extended Diploma UCAS Points
Pass 36 72
High Pass 96
Merit 60 120
High Merit 144
Distinction 84 168


Fashion Business and Retail

Grade Level 3 Diploma UCAS points Level 3 Extended Diploma UCAS Points
Pass 36 72
High Pass 96
Merit 60 120
High Merit 144
Distinction 84 168


All UAL Level 3 qualifications are now in the UCAS tariff points system and the newly allocated tariff points are in line with the rest of our Level 3 qualifications.

Image: Academy of Contemporary Music. Copyright Liz Carrington

Emerge 2017

UAL Awarding Body hosted Emerge, our first music and performing arts showcase event, on Saturday 3 June. 

More than 80 students from nine centres approved to deliver UAL Awarding Body qualifications performed at Emerge, which took place at Central Saint Martins’ Platform Theatre and Bar.

Produced by No|Ordinary|Experience, the day featured: dance, drama and musical theatre performances; sets from live bands, DJs and solo artists; screenings of filmed performances; an open mic session, and Q&As with host Deborah Coughlin.

Thanks to all of the colleges who took part:

  • South Essex College
  • The Sheffield College
  • The Academy of Contemporary Music
  • Uxbridge College
  • South Gloucestershire and Stroud College
  • Sussed Downs College
  • Reynolds Training Academy
  • West Suffolk College

Watch our short film for interviews with some of the students who took part in Emerge 2017:

You can view some photos from the day below…

The Uxbridge Lot, Uxbridge College

Dimensions, South Essex College

Lauren Walton, Academy of Contemporary Music

Students from BSix College and SGS College are interviewed by host Deborah Coughlin

Musical theatre, Sheffield College

EJK, Academy of Contemporary Music. All photos by James Hopkirk.


Colleges pilot national Barbican project with Complicite

Two colleges that deliver UAL Awarding Body’s qualifications have been selected to pilot a national education programme with leading international arts centre, the Barbican

Students studying UAL’s Level 3 Diploma in Performing & Production Arts qualification at Carmel College and Macclesfield College have been taking part in Barbican Box since February.

Barbican Box is a creative education programme designed for secondary schools and FE colleges, which aims to ignite, support and facilitate music, theatre and visual art making in schools through a process of devising and creating work from scratch.

Institutions taking part in Barbican Box receive: a box containing stimuli and learning resources curated by a leading artist; teacher continuing professional development (CPD) training; tickets to a theatre, music or visual arts event; mentoring and workshops from professional artists; and the opportunity to showcase their work at a venue.

Barbican Box has previously only been available to schools in East London, but if the regional pilot proves successful, the Barbican hopes to roll it out nationally.

Jenny Mollica, Head of Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning said:

We are thrilled to bring the Barbican Box to students and teachers from Carmel College and Macclesfield College. The Box, which changes every year, is designed to give schools and colleges all of the creative ingredients and ongoing support they need to create exciting new theatre, art or music. It is one of our most popular Creative Learning programmes and we hope it will continue to inspire lots more young people across the UK in future.

Leading British theatre company Complicite, which specialises in physical and devised theatre, are the artists leading the process, with support from cross-arts production company No | Ordinary | Experience. The project began in February 2017 and staff from both colleges took part in teacher CPD training in March.

Sarah Bacon, Course Leader for Performing Arts at Macclesfield College said:

Barbican Box has been an incredible experience both for the students involved and me as a teacher. Right from the start of the project, the students have been inspired to create exciting and challenging drama through the exploration of the objects and themes of the box.

The two-day CPD programme gave me the opportunity to work with practitioners involved in international theatre projects. My mentor Sasha Milavic Davies has worked with Complicite, Hamburg Opera, Young Vic, and Opera de Lyon. Engaging in CPD from practitioners of this calibre has significantly improved my own practice. This will have an enormous impact on the quality of teaching and learning during the Box project and beyond.

Michelle Mahoney, Teacher of Dance and Performance at Carmel College said

Working with The Barbican and Complicite has been amazing. For students from a small town in the North West to be able to work with two world-known theatre establishments has really helped to put their learning into a wider context and establish aspirations beyond their local area. The students have been enthused and excited by the Complicite workshops, leaving them full of ideas of concepts they want to explore. The CPD and support provided for teachers has been outstanding too, it has given me the inspiration to try out new methods and explore different methods of working.

The students will showcase their work in front of an invited audience at the prestigious Manchester HOME Theatre on 20 June 2017.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Barbican Box please contact:

10 tips for organising the perfect end of year exhibition

Vicky Cull is the course leader for  Suffolk New College’s Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and Extended Diploma in Art & Design courses. She has been responsible for planning and organising all of the college’s final art and design shows for the last 20 years and is also planning the University of Suffolk‘s BA and MA Fine Art & Arts Practice shows this year. She shares her tips for organising a successful end of year exhibition…

My advice to anyone embarking on a student exhibition is to plan, plan, plan some more… and be prepared to compromise!

I always start by asking a series of questions that are specific to the course, team and exhibition spaces. These may typically be:

  • What sort of show do we want (e.g. minimal, salon hang, interactive, multi-platform)?
  • Why are we having a show (what does it need to achieve, who is it for)?
  • Where is it going to be (e.g. in a gallery space, studios/workshops, corridors, off-site) and how can these spaces be adapted?
  • Do students have an input into the planning of the space?
  • Who decides what goes where – the course leader, subject leader or the students?

With answers to these questions established, here are my 10 top tips for organising your end of year show…

1. Let your students know what type of show you are organising
This may sound like an obvious tip, but in the pursuit of ‘trying to get everything done’, it’s easy to overlook the simple process of communication with your students. Talk to them in good time. Give them a flavour of what’s to come and get them excited!

2. Have a clear understanding of all of your students’ project themes
Talk to each student to gain an understanding of their requirements for the exhibition and to ensure that their individual needs are taken into consideration. Some courses have very large cohorts so it is useful to collate this information in advance for the whole team to work from.

3. Create a visual consistency
There should be a visual consistency running through your show collateral and promotional materials, including but not limited to: labels, statements, invites, posters, social media assets, digital content and show signage. This may even include agreed hanging processes and other methods for displaying work.

4. Clearly define your team’s roles
Clearly defined roles will help to minimise creative and conceptual disagreements. Provide everyone involved with a clearly defined role at the beginning of the planning process (including staff, technicians and students) and create a short written guide to ensure that they all have a shared approach to the exhibition.

5. Understand your deadlines – and stick to them! 
Develop a clear week-by-week plan, including key responsibilities and deadlines, at the beginning of the final major project. Share it with your students and all staff involved in the process (including support staff, caretakers, security, health and safety and marketing).

6. Work out your timings
Ensure you allocate appropriate amounts of time for building the show, hanging work, marking work and the external moderation visit.

7. Find a cohesion
As a curator, you need to find a way to pull all of the projects together in a cohesive way. Students generally want the exhibition to represent their own individuality, so compromise is necessary!

8. Collect technical requests
Some students will have specific technical requirements; it’s best to ascertain their needs early on to decide where in the exhibition to place them. Technical requirements might include:

  • Plug sockets
  • Corners
  • Shelves
  • Lighting
  • Dark spaces
  • Sound proof spaces
  • Number of plinths
  • Shelves
  • Cabinets
  • Projectors

9. Publish Your dos and don’ts
Publish a list of dos and don’ts for students in advance of the show. This might include aesthetic considerations, health and safety guidance and hanging instructions. It can also be helpful to share a code of conduct outlining the behaviour you expect from your students.

10. Future proof your show’s design process
Hold a wash-up meeting at the end of the exhibition with all of the staff involved. This will help you to review what went well and what could be improved ahead of next year’s show.

The Origins experience

Origins, our annual exhibition of student work, is now open for entries.

Now in its seventh year, Origins showcases the best art, design, fashion and creative media work being produced by students taking our further education qualifications at FE institutions across the UK.

This year we have booked a large space at the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch and will be exhibiting as part of the established show Free Range (5-11 July 2017). We aim to showcase up to 130 exhibits, including but not limited to: paintings, drawings, sculpture, fashion, photography, animation and film.

We caught up with three exhibitors from last year’s show, to see what they thought of the experience…

Urmila Chowdhury from Blackburn College exhibited her Level 2 Art & Design work:
I was very excited and happy to be selected for Origins. It felt like the culmination of all of my hard work. It also helped to build my confidence; it surprised me that UAL welcomed me although I am an asylum seeker.

I had a very good experience at the private view because of the opportunity it provided to see a variety of work and meet new people. I was glad to meet with the artist Bob and Roberta Smith, UAL staff and visitors to the exhibition.

I am now studying the UAL Foundation Art & Design course at Blackburn College. In Sep 2017 I am going on to study a BA Hons in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.

I would definitely recommend others to apply for Origins, because it opens the door of opportunity to display your work in wider community and build your confidence.”

Work by Urmila Chowdhury


Carla Binder from Canterbury College exhibited her Level 2 Creative Media work:
“I was so surprised and lost for words, when I got the email through to say I’d be selected for Origins as it was my first time that my work had been exhibited.

I attended the private view, which I really enjoyed; especially seeing other people’s reaction to my documentary, Voices To Be Heard, about why 16 and 17-year-olds should have been allowed to vote for Brexit.

I’m currently studying L3 Film and Television at Canterbury College and was recently one of 150 filmmakers accepted for a Channel 4 pop-up event in Bristol. I am still creating films with a focus on raising awareness of political and social issues.

I would 100% recommend students and tutors to apply for Origins because it’s a chance to show the public what you can do and achieve. The exhibition boosts your confidence so much and gives you a few connections along the way too.”

Charlie Clover from Suffolk New College exhibited his Level 2 Art & Design work:
“When I received the email telling me my work had been selected for Origins I was very surprised and excited as it was completely new experience for me.

I really enjoyed attending the private view and seeing the culmination of everyone’s work. The highlight of the event would have to be the talk from Bob and Roberta Smith – I found his “All schools should be art schools!” talk very encouraging!

I am now studying for my L3 Extended Diploma in Art & Design at Suffolk New College. I’m currently busy creating final major project piece and preparing for university.”

Work by Charlie Clover


Tutors from centres approved to deliver UAL Awarding Body qualifications are invited to submit work by up to three students for each qualification. Find out more and enter your students online by Wednesday 14 June 2017.

The future of Applied General qualifications

The UK government has recently announced that Applied General qualifications in England will remain as a route of study but will be subject to a formal review. Ruben Hale, Deputy Director, explores this decision and the effects it will have on centres, UAL Awarding Body and the wider sector.

What are “Applied General” qualifications?
Applied General is the name given to a wide range of qualifications from many different awarding organisations. The majority of UAL Awarding Body’s qualifications fall into this category, as well as qualifications from several other awarding organisations including BTECs.

  • At Level 3, they are usually designed to support progression to HE
  • They usually have a vocational approach
  • These qualifications are usually broad and provide students with specific interests with deeper opportunities to explore their chosen subjects.

What’s happening?
In the last four years, the government has reviewed 14-18 education in England. It has reformed A levels and GCSEs and proposed a new suite of Technical and Apprenticeship routes through education.

Having announced that Applied General qualifications will remain, the Department for Education (DfE) will team up with qualification regulator Ofqual to recommend an approach to reviewing these qualifications in the summer of 2017.

Why does this matter?
This government has been very keen on a clear, and quite simplistic, divide between academic and vocational subjects. With a review of these qualifications pending, this view could be detrimental to creative subjects, where job roles typically require the critical skills and adaptability afforded by an HE degree, and future employment competencies are less clearly defined.

The future needs of this sector are likely to change unpredictably – our designers, film-makers, media producers, directors, games designers, artists and fashion industry professionals will need the broad adaptive skills afforded by Applied General qualifications in order to maintain and grow the world-leading UK creative economy. It’s no accident that these skills delivered £84.1 billion (or 5.2%) of the UK economy in 2015.

Performance tables and creative subjects
In both Technical and Applied General qualifications, the DfE and government have promoted External Assessment as a way to drive comparability and quality. This exam-based model is very difficult to implement sensibly in creative subjects, meaning that comparability of grades comes at the cost of validity. The danger is that students are judged on outcomes that are easy and cheap to measure rather than relevant to their programme of study or needs.

What is UAL Awarding Body doing about this?
UAL Awarding Body is very fortunate to be part of Europe’s largest creative HE institution and a prominent supporter of the Creative Industries Federation. We understand the needs of the sector and the fact that – in order to thrive – our students need to explore, experiment, develop and then pull together outstanding learning over a meaningful period of study.

UAL Awarding Body qualifications continue to be highly regarded, attract UCAS points and funding, and are delivered across a growing number of centres in the UK. The innovation and confidence our qualifications promote and the support framework of training and events we provide continue to be highly popular with staff and students.

We recognise that the 16–19 Performance Tables are important for some centres, so we are carefully redesigning our Level 3 qualifications to meet the DfE’s requirements. This work is being undertaken in consultation with centres and in-line with our view that piecemeal and inappropriate assessments damage creative education. A small-scale and controlled pilot will launch during 2017/18.

We are also lobbying the DfE, with whom we have already had positive engagement. It’s important for us to work with DfE, Ofqual and any other bodies (including the new Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education) to promote a reframed definition of External Assessment and comparability for the creative sector.

UAL Awarding Body’s position
We want a joined-up education system that respects the needs and ambitions of students and different subjects. We believe this is compatible with maintaining standards and comparability, but it is currently unclear how the combined system, including a series of as yet undefined ‘bridging qualifications’ will function in the interests of learners.

How you can contribute
Whether you teach a creative subject, head up a creative department or are a senior manager please come to our events, and share your experiences and knowledge with us. Alternatively, please contribute to our LinkedIn group or drop an email to with ‘Applied General’ in the subject line. We draw fantastic insights and evidence from you and hugely appreciate your support and input.


Preparing for moderation

Matt Moseley recently joined UAL Awarding Body as Chief Examiner for Art & Design at Levels 1 and 2. We asked him to share his tips for centres preparing for moderation…

Matt Moseley, photo by Ivan Jones.


Prior to joining UAL Awarding Body, I spent many years working with their qualifications on the other side of the fence; most recently managing creative courses at Suffolk New College in sunny Ipswich. During my seven-year tenure as Programme Leader there, I worked with staff and students to deliver successful UAL programmes in Art & Design, Media, Games Design and Performing Arts at levels 1-4. During this period, we benefitted from many positive visits from UAL External Moderators and Chief Examiners, so when the opportunity arose to write a blog on ‘how to prepare for moderation’ I felt I should share my experiences.

Below are a selection of hints and tips that I would like to share in order to help you get your institution ready for this summer’s moderations:

The Centre Handbook:
The first port of call for any pre-moderation preparations should be the UAL Awarding Body Centre Handbook. This document is a one-stop-shop, covering the delivery, assessment and moderation of UAL Awarding Body courses. It provides wide-ranging advice that covers all the subject pathways as well as more specific guidance on moderation in sections 3.1 and 3.2. Here you’ll find a breakdown of the moderation process from its overall purpose, through to sampling, feedback and next steps. If you are booked in for a moderation, make sure that you give these sections a thorough read.

The students:
It’s worth keeping moderation in mind when planning the final major project with your students. Encouraging students to ‘flag post’ their projects prior to submission will make it easier to mark, and in turn help your moderator to identify where and why grades have been awarded accurately. Students can quickly and easily use post-it notes or tags to show where they have made key creative decisions, documented pivotal research or solved specific problems. This practice can also really help students to structure their project analysis and evaluation.

Talk to your students about moderation too; let them know the process and how important it is that their work is presented clearly and coherently, showing the narrative of their project in a considered manner. Make them aware that blind-markers will be new to their work and will not have the understanding that you do.

Your colleagues:
Don’t try to tackle moderation preparation single handedly (particularly with large cohorts) as there can be a lot to do. Undergoing moderation is a team activity so make sure you organise a meeting in good time to identify roles and responsibilities for each of your team members. Check that all members of your team have a clear understanding of the moderation process as this will increase buy-in and support. If other areas of your institution are delivering UAL Awarding Body qualifications, discuss your plans with them and share practice where possible. A standardised approach across the department will save time and make preparation more efficient.

The moderator:
The most valuable support mechanism offered by UAL Awarding Body is the ‘human element’. Moderators are often tutors who deliver UAL Awarding Body qualifications at other institutions, so you should view them as approachable. They will be happy to be communicated with and willing to offer support and guidance on preparing for moderation.

Moderators can’t advise on the grading of student work – as they are there to check your course team’s assessment against the national standards – but they are able to answer questions on moderation preparation in the lead up to a visit. You will receive an email from your moderator prior to their visit, so use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Issues raised prior to moderation will have no negative bearing on the visit, so do not worry about asking questions (even if you think they are obvious).

The sample:
Ensure that you afford yourself enough time between submission, assessment of work, and the moderation visit. In addition to checking and organising work ready for sampling, you will need time to identify and resolve any missing student authentication forms, bibliographies and other essential paperwork. Any referred work should also be re-marked at the point of moderation.

Lay the work out in the largest space available and, once organised, draw a simple map of where each student’s work is. Some centres have very large cohorts of students and being able to lay your hands on a sample quickly and easily makes for a smoother moderation.

Once you have your sample organised, set up a mock moderation visit with a staff member who hasn’t worked with the group, to see if they can easily find the samples and navigate their way through the projects. Inviting a member of your senior leadership team along can be beneficial too; it can be a good way to showcase your students’ work to management and in turn gain recognition for your team.

If you are including digital or video evidence in the sample, make sure all students are clearly labelled and be prepared to help the moderator to navigate sampled students’ work. Make sure that you test any technology (internet access, blogs, dvd players, network logins etc.) on the morning of the moderation to ensure that all is working. It may also be useful to inform your IT and Facilities teams of your moderation date, so they can be on-hand to assist if required.

This is no means an exhaustive list, and at the exam board we believe in a culture of sharing to support, so if you have any additional suggestions you think may help your fellow practitioners, please post them below…

Tips for producing a successful student performance

With the end of year show season fast approaching, we asked Marc Mollica, our Chief Examiner for Performing & Production Arts, to share his top tips for producing a successful student showcase…

Marc Mollica, photo by Ivan Jones.


As UAL Awarding Body’s Chief Examiner for Performing & Production Arts, I often get asked “what is the best way to approach the extended project?”

I always find this question difficult to answer; our ethos at UAL Awarding Body is to resist prescribing a particular approach to prevent work from becoming too formulaic. We want our moderation teams to report back on a diverse and creative season of student work, not identical looking productions that conform to a set of narrow principles.

“Yes, we understand that, but do you have any helpful tips” I hear you all cry?
Whilst I wouldn’t want to be prescriptive, I do have a number of tips, ideals and provocations from my own teaching experience that can be deliberated by students whilst they are working on their final creative projects:

Is the ambition for the project clear?
To start with, it would be wise to remind students what the ambitions and aims for the extended project actually are – these are not the aims from the specification but more importantly the ambitions of the project itself. In all likelihood, the extended project will serve as the students’ final memory of their time at your college, so the project needs to be an unforgettable experience that will be forever etched into their memories.

Creating such unforgettable experiences and life-long memories is a tall order, but if students are fully immersed within their projects, they will carry that same sense of curiosity and wonderment (as they progress) onto their next project.

Are the students being courageous with their choices?
We continually ask students to take risks, so is their final project pushing boundaries? Are they creating a stirring audience experience? Is the work verging on the dangerous or are they playing it safe? Are the stakes sky-high? Is the work surprising?

Are they being creative?
Sounds obvious, but is the project providing a platform to allow imaginations to take flight? Are they enjoying exploring the wider world of the project or are their minds too fixed on the end-point and are simply chasing a grade? If the focus in the rehearsal room is firmly fixed on creativity the grade will naturally follow but if the focus in the room is fixed on the final grade the creativity will struggle to flourish.

Is research informing practice?
Is the project consuming the student? Are they entering into the rehearsal buzzing from some research they have discovered over the weekend that will help propel the project forward and are now desperate to test it out with their peers? Are they becoming experts in their chosen fields? Are the supporting notes actually supporting the project? I was told recently of students working on a production of Cabaret who took it upon themselves to go to Berlin during their half-term holiday in order to experience first-hand the actual sights and smells of their project. This, I would assert, is already a successful project as the field trip is directly stimulating their creative endeavors whilst creating unique cherished memories.

In short, a reliable barometer of a successful end of year show can be easily detected if the students’ are proud of their final offering. Success is so often pinned to a statistic, but real success can be easily determined (and measured) by the students’ personal investment. The extended project sits proudly at the end of the students’ training and promotes (and celebrates) their inventiveness, curiosity, determination and sense of wonderment. Real success will therefore be found in the students’ journeys into the unknown.

West Suffolk College wins TES FE Award and is praised in PMQs by Theresa May

West Suffolk College’s School of Art and Design has been recognised at the annual Times Educational Supplement’s TES FE Awards for an innovative project that brings together maths, art, religion and science teaching.

Derek Johnson accepting the TES FE Award on behalf of West Suffolk College


The college’s annual MARS Award requires its 400 art students, studying at different levels, to take on a challenging assignment in term two that combines maths, art, religion and science (MARS) subjects. The project aims to encourage students to embrace the wider world and to develop inquisitive minds.

Art and design students work with the School of Science on a series of challenging assignments which are evaluated by an invited panel of judges. Winners from each course are awarded prizes – with one overall winner. The current winner is Lauren Jones, a Graphic Design student who explored religion, maths and the periodic table. Lauren reinvented the periodic table of chemical elements into new design forms, alongside studies into the creation of the universe.
Judges for the TES FE Awards unanimously agreed that the college’s “completely amazing” MARS Award project “leaped out” and presented it with the award for Best Teaching and Learning Initiative.
A delighted Derek Johnson, who accepted the award, said:

It is wonderful to have this high-level recognition for the hard and innovative work of our staff and students. We have embraced the opportunity to stretch and challenge the students, and the MARS Award has raised standards of depth, integrity, technical and creative skills as a result. Above all – and most importantly in education – for all staff and students, it has developed inquisitive minds.

During Prime Minister Questions on Wednesday 1 March, the college’s local MP, Jo Churchill praised West Suffolk College for its MARS Award initiative. Teresa May PM congratulated the college, stating:

We need to ensure that young people do not just have a skills-set, but also the enquiring mind that enables them to look forward to what may be different careers throughout their lives, to be able to embrace new skills and change throughout their careers.

Current winner of the MARS Award, graphics student Lauren Jones


Derek Johnson, Director of the School of Art and Design, presented the college’s MARS Award at the 2016 UAL Awarding Body conference and three subsequent Teaching Maths and Art CPD events.