Extended Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3)

The Art, Design & Media industries include an incredibly wide variety of different subjects and opportunities for employment.  Due to this diversity it can be very difficult to identify what course might suit you, where you will flourish and where you will be happy. The majority of our students who come to us after Year 11 have a good knowledge of art and/or media, but are not sure of how to apply or widen their skills.

Our specialist status and resources mean we can really help you to look at a wide variety of art and design and encourage you to take on new ways of being creative, as well as allowing you to develop your preferred subjects. 


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First Year (Level 3 Diploma Year)

At the beginning of the course all students start with a common first year which gives you a grounding in skills such as research ideas development, practical problem solving and reflective practice. It will also introduce you to a wide range of new skills such as printmaking, video, ceramics, photography, textiles, and working with different materials such as clay and metal.

Assessment is continuous - you will have a constant dialogue with your group tutor about your progress so you will always know where you need to improve. Ideas development and visual imagery are recorded in a range of ways including sketchbooks and blogs.

Students also study English and Maths as an integral part of the course and will take Functional Skills qualifications and/or work towards GCSEs as appropriate.

By the end of the first year you will have the opportunity to present work in an end of year exhibition moderated by UAL which will result in a grade for the year. An end of year interview will also help determine your specialist group for the second year which are:

  • Contemporary Design Crafts & Jewellery
  • Textiles & Fashion
  • Fine Art
  • Photography & Film
  • Graphic Design & Media
  • Illustration & Animation


More details about the specialist areas can be found further below


Second Year ( Level 3 Extended Diploma Year)

In the second year, your elected specialist year, you will start to feel more confident about your own work and you will continue to develop your skills and understanding of the area you are most interested in. This is an important stage of the course as it often underpins your plans for the future. Tutors will encourage and guide you to work towards producing a professional standard portfolio of work and support your application for higher education. On average, about 70% of students progress to university or college. Alternatively, students have the opportunity to develop a range of transferable and entrepreneurial skills that opens up a number of employment opportunities. The Second year also results in an end of year exhibition moderated by UAL resulting in an external grade. The combination of grades from both years will allow you to progress to HE level.


On completion, the course is worth the equivalent of three A Levels.

Progression and Careers

Students who successfully complete this course are qualified to progress directly on to any of the college's University-Level courses, which will train students to meet the demands of a professional creative life.  They will also be eligible to apply for a Progression bursary.

Students are also qualified to progress on to Higher Education at Universities and Colleges throughout the country, or to potentially gain entry to employment within the art and design industries at a junior level.


Fine Art+

Focuses on  the many subject areas within Art and Design. Students are encouraged to work on a multidisciplinary basis, through combining processes and materials and generating new ideas and products. Students have the opportunity of developing their 2D and 3D skills within class or in the specialist workshops.



Illustration involves the visual communication of message and meaning. Students are encouraged to use a broad range of techniques and media to create imagery that communicates their narrative. This includes problem solving, creative thinking, ideas generation and the presentation of visual solutions. Students create Illustrations for a range of creative outcomes including, print media, advertising and multimedia, concept art and storyboarding, comic book and graphic novels, book and fashion.


Graphic & Media Design+

Involves the visual communication of ideas and information through a combination of words and images. Students are encouraged to develop ideas in response to a wide range of situations and projects. The Students specialise in graphics for magazines, books, fashion, music promotion, advertising, information graphics and packaging.

Contemporary Design Crafts+

Contemporary Design Crafts is a multi-disciplinary approach to the designing and realisation of Design Craft ideas and outcomes.  Throughout this specialism you will be encouraged to explore and extend your critically considered ideas and communicate them through the use of various process workshops and materials.  The students specialise within CDC to become: independent Craft Artists/Designers, Jewellers, Ceramicists, Carpenters, Design Innovators and Curators.

Textiles & Fashion+

Encourages students to explore specialist processes such as surface design, print, fabric manipulation, embroidery and stitch, to produce designs for a variety of outcomes including fashion and clothing, homeware and interior furnishings. Students specialise in fashion design, fashion illustration, textile design, print & weave, surface design, printmaking and mixed media.

Photography & Film+

Concerned with ideas and themes using both traditional and digital photographic techniques. Students are encouraged to develop ideas in response to a wide range of situations and projects, using black and white, colour and digital formats. Students will explore areas such as documentary photography, studio photography, photojournalism, fashion imaging, and creative photography for advertising and for use on the web and moving image.


2 years, full-time


When we asked students :
96% feel our staff are enthusiastic & knowledgeable

95% say the workshop resources for the course are good

93% feel feedback on work helps clarify things they didn't understand


"There are always exhibitions by other artists going on around the college - it's really inspiring"

Entry Requirements

  • Minimum age 16
  • Minimum 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above (to ensure that you qualify it is highly desirable that you achieve at least a grade C or above in both English and Maths)
  • or BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Art & Design (Merit or above)
  • Interview and portfolio
  • Applicants will also be required to complete a short piece of written work


College-Level 3


No tuition fees (with the exception of students from the Channel Islands) will be charged to students aged under 19 on 31st August in the year in which the student begins the course


Firstly, come along to one of our Open Events - meet our staff, current students, walk round the studios and workshops, and find out more about the course.

More on How to Apply

More on Fees & Funding