Pre Degree students at Plymouth College of Art 1

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Extended Diploma vs A-Levels: Your Pathway to Creative Excellence

Arts University Plymouth’s specialist post-16 Extended Diploma offers ambitious young creatives a dedicated arts campus within a UK award-winning university.
<p dir="ltr">As you stand at the crossroads deciding where to go next after your GCSEs, choosing the right educational path is crucial for your creative aspirations. At Arts University Plymouth, we offer the UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in various specialisms of art and design, offering a unique experience that will help you to prepare for university and degree-level education.</p> <p dir="ltr">Arts University Plymouth’s specialist post-16 Extended Diploma offers ambitious young creatives a dedicated arts campus within a UK award-winning university. Students develop their unique perspective, meet like-minded people and gain the sought after skills, confidence and UCAS points needed to progress to their university of choice or to the UK’s booming creative industries. </p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re still not sure whether an Extended Diploma is right for you, we’ve pulled together some reasons why we think you should apply.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">Unlike A-levels in a traditional school sixth form, the Extended Diploma offers in-depth study in creative disciplines, making it ideal for students passionate about art and design. Hannah Ryan, who studied Extended Diploma in Film, Animation and Media Production said, “I went to a grammar school with high academic expectations, and I felt there was too much structure for me there. I got good GCSE results and decided to study at Arts University Plymouth where there are facilities and equipment that wouldn’t have been available at school. It makes a big difference that this is a specialist place for art and design, and everyone has a similar mindset.”<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">The Extended Diploma places an emphasis on hands-on, practical work, providing real-world skills and a strong portfolio, which is essential for creative careers. Having studied Extended Diploma in Fashion and Textiles, Emma-Louise Thompson said, “I used to come to Saturday Arts Club when I was 13 and it opened my eyes to genres and media I’d no access to at school. I did my GCSEs in partnership with Arts University Plymouth as I didn’t like the school environment. I’ve learned so much about sewing, designing, even life drawing and pattern cutting. I’m enjoying fashion promotion and marketing and we’ve done several trips to research retail environments and concepts already! It also helps us get to know one another, and we all get on really well.”<br /></p>
Pre Degree fashion students low res
<p dir="ltr">Students are immersed in a creative community, surrounded by like-minded peers and mentors, allowing for artistic growth and community support. Jasmine Hoey, who studied an Extended Diploma in Film, Animation and Media Production said, “It’s fun! You get all the support you possibly need and everyone’s kind and caring. We all help each other out. I don’t think you could get the same experience at school, it probably wouldn’t be as much fun and the facilities wouldn’t be as good. It’s comfortable at Arts University Plymouth - without being too cosy or too safe. You always feel nicely challenged - and you gain experience from that and you’re not afraid to experiment.”<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">The course allows for exploration across various art and design fields, helping students discover and refine their special interests. Another graduate of Extended Diploma in Film, Animation and Media Production, Lee Douch, said, “I left school at 15, they said I was lazy! I joined the Army and during that time I found out I’m dyslexic. One day, on a whim, I came up to Arts University Plymouth and asked if there was a course for someone like me, expecting a no! At first it was hard, getting back into education, I did feel a bit out of sorts, but I’ve really fit in. I love everything about being here. I have experience in things like project management that means I can contribute, and I like to think I bring a bit of discipline to group projects. I want to be a film and theatre critic or a journalist. My next stop will be higher education in film journalism or a BA in Film, followed by an MA in journalism.”<br /></p>
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Design to Sell 2023

<p dir="ltr">The course is designed to seamlessly transition you into undergraduate studies, equipped with a robust portfolio and a clear vision for your creative future. On completing this two-year course, you’ll gain a Level 3 Extended Diploma - equivalent to three full A-levels or a maximum of 168 UCAS points. Many of our students go on to a variety of degree level programmes here at Arts University Plymouth, alternatively you might take the transferable skills that this course gives you and look for study in another subject area (e.g. psychology, advertising), or enter employment. As well as the ongoing advice, guidance and support you’ll receive from your course team, the university has a specialist careers service that will help you make the right decisions for your future.<br /></p>
Palace Court

Palace Court, Arts University Plymouth's Pre-Degree & Sixth Form campus

<p dir="ltr">Upon completing the Extended Diploma in Art &amp; Design, alumni have successfully progressed to prestigious degree studies both in the UK and internationally. Annie Williams earned her UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Art &amp; Design in 2019, continuing her education at the London College of Fashion, graduating in 2022 with a BA (Hons) Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding degree. Annie currently serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Officer at Arts University Plymouth, but has previously contributed to leading marketing campaigns and communications related to blockchain and web3 technology for stakeholders such as Nissan, Cadburys and Atos.</p> <p dir="ltr">Alumni Tom Bispham studied an Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Filmmaking &amp; Media Production, achieving a Distinction in 2019. He went on to study BA (Hons) Digital Media Production (now BA (Hons) Film &amp; Screen Arts) at Arts University Plymouth, and has since worked with a range of brands, companies and influencers, including DJ Tom Zanette, Glastonbury Festival, MISFITS Boxing, Northcore, and UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh.</p> <p dir="ltr">Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Graphics, Illustration and Game Arts graduate Oliver Brooks secured an internship at the world’s largest independent design agencies, Pentagram, on graduating Pre-Degree study at Arts University Plymouth. Achieving a Distinction for Pre-Degree studies, the equivalent to 3 A*s at A-level (or 168 UCAS points for a university application) he was also awarded the Design Aesthetic Award for his commitment to the field of graphic design during his time at the university.<br /></p>
<ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">For 16-19 year olds</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Two year course</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Gain first hand experience of your chosen specialism</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Guaranteed place on one of our BA (Hons) programmes</p></li></ul>
<p dir="ltr">Entry requirements: We normally offer places to students who have at least four GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and preferably with one in a creative subject (or 9-4 in the new grading scheme), and who show commitment and enthusiasm for art and design through examples of creative work.</p> <p dir="ltr">When you successfully complete this two-year course, you’ll gain a Level 3 Extended Diploma – equivalent to three full A-levels, or a maximum of 168 UCAS points.</p> <p dir="ltr">Are you ready to take your next step into creative education? Get in touch with our Admissions Team via email at <a href=""></a>, via telephone on +44(0)1752 203434 or chat to us on WhatsApp on 07722 744184.<br /></p>