School leaver

Start Date: Duration: Level: Study mode: Course location: Course Type:
September 2 years Level 3 Full-Time Hartlepool Sixth Form Full-time Vocational Apply Enquire

What’s it all about?

Our region boasts some of the most innovative technology companies in the UK, particularly in the fast-paced games, animation, and VFX industries. Join us at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, where we guide you in becoming a part of this digital revolution!

Hartlepool Sixth Form College is one of only 18 UK colleges approved to deliver the award-winning NextGen Skills Academy qualification. Developed in partnership with industry leaders, this qualification equips you with the essential skills to join the next generation of leading talent in the games, animation and VFX industries.

As the only industry backed course of its kind, it has been created in collaboration with employers across games, animation and VFX, including Blue Zoo, Industrial Light & Magic, Framestore, DNEG, Playground Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, Ubisoft and Centroid 3D.

The Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation, and VFX Skills is designed to ensure that young talents are industry-ready, blending a keen awareness of industry practices with essential skills. The course provides students with a solid foundation in art, design, maths, and computing skills—attributes highly sought-after within the industry.

Crafted for those keen on game development, our programme focuses on hands-on activities where theory meets practice head-on. Engage with employer-assigned projects, receive genuine industry feedback, and gain valuable remote work experience with industry leaders as essential components of your learning journey.

Aimed at students aged 16+, this Extended Diploma is comparable with 3 A-Levels and comes with UCAS points so you can progress to university or a higher apprenticeship.

You will need 5 GCSEs at grade 4-9, including English Language and Maths, plus IT skills, self-motivation and a passion for computer games, animation and VFX.

Additionally, you should have great creativity and imagination, be able to express your ideas, and be a logical problem-solver. You also need to be able to work under pressure, meet deadlines, work well in teams, and have an interest in the future of technology.

Study level Cost Additional fees
19+ please enquire You may be required to pay for stationery, art materials, trips and visits. It would be beneficial if you have a computer at home that is powerful enough to play games, however, this is not essential as you will have access to computers and technology at college. More specific information of system requirements can be provided depending on your budget.

You will be taught using a range of techniques including:

- Individual projects
- Large scale group work projects
- Demonstrations
- Peer learning
- Independent guided learning
- Practical workshop sessions
- Industry workshops (online and face-to-face)
- Industry feedback

You will be assessed by:

- Coursework – through an online blog
- Periodic formative feedback
- Presentations of projects
- Academic writing essays
- Mock exams
- Externally set exams

English and Maths are important life skills that will help you to achieve the best in your studies and progress to your dream career, and this course will help you to continue building upon your English and Maths skills.

You are required to have achieved a grade 4 or above in both English and Maths to enrol onto this course. These skills are crucial to the development of games, animation and VFX projects that we use on a daily basis in our practical work and presentation of work.

As well as hands-on projects you will be assessed through academic essays; Art Theory in year one and Emerging Technologies in year two.

Additionally, there is an exam in first year based around Maths, programming and game design. In second year, there is a written exam focusing on industry practices.

There will be a number of remote work experience weeks throughout the year in which all students are expected to take part. Taking place within sixth form and spanning a full week, students will be ‘off timetable’ and working in teams on a variety of briefs. These weeks are organised by the NextGen Skills Academy and students are guided by industry feedback throughout the week.

Additionally, work experience opportunities are regularly available through our NextGen partners, and students are encouraged to engage with these. Work experience roles can often take a variety of forms and may vary in duration to enrich your student experience and strengthen your skills.

Through the NextGen Skills Academy we have links to industry to ensure you gain an outstanding learning experience with us and are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to progress to a career in the creative industries. These include:

- Ubisoft
- BlueZoo
- Infinity 27
- Creative Assembly
- MediaTonic
- Framestore
- Sony
- Microsoft
- Zerolight
- Centroid

Mon-Fri between 9am-4pm. Days and times of study are subject to change. Timetables are confirmed at the start of term.

You will study around 16 hours per week in college and will be expected to take time outside of college to develop your coursework further. Lecturers will set tasks and guide you so that you stay organised and continue to develop your creative and technical skills. Additionally, you will be set weekly homework to complete that will develop your knowledge further.

As part of your study programme, you will also be expected to attend sessions for personal tutorial, group tutorial (Self, Society and Skills) and Talents and Interests, alongside your main qualification.

The aim of the course is to develop skills and knowledge relevant to the games, animation and VFX industries. This includes art theory, concept art, 3D modelling, animation, VFX, game design, Maths, and programming fundamentals.

We also develop skills and knowledge with business practices, production management, teamwork, and communication. This will allow you to progress to a career in a range of creative industries using the transferable skills that we cover.

Most students progress onto Higher Education, internally or externally, and then achieve jobs in the industry. You could also progress in wider industries, such as visualisation, advertising, marketing, education and more.

The creative industries are also evolving, with an increasing number of apprenticeship opportunities becoming available. Through our links with the NextGen Skills Academy, our students will get the most up to date and current opportunities.

You will undertake assessments using the knowledge you have learnt from a range of industry focused units.

Year 1 Units:
- 3D Tools Creative and Technical 3D Modelling
- Fundamental Animation Skills for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
- VFX Fundamentals for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
- Core Principles of Game Design
- Art Fundamentals for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
- Fundamental Product Programming Skills
- Maths and Logic Fundamentals for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries

Year 1 Assessments:
- Core Principles Exam (Maths, programming, and game design)
- Art Theory in Context Essay
- Asset Development Portfolio

Year 2 Units:
- Emerging Technologies/Trends in the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
- Images and Sounds for Imagined Worlds
- Storyboard/Playboarding
- Production Management for the Games, Animation and VFX Industries
- Working in the Games, Animation and VFX Industries

Year 2 Assessments:
- Synoptic Group Project
- Case Study Exam
- Emerging Technologies Essay

What’s next?

This a course has multiple destinations for students and is defined by the skills that the creative industries of games, animation and VFX need for future innovation and growth. It’s much more than just a qualification – it’s the start of a career journey.

Successful completion of the NextGen Skills Academy qualification, along with an appropriate grade and strong portfolio, will provide access to a wide range of external and internal specialist Higher Education courses and higher apprenticeships.

You could take the internal progression Higher Education Level 4 and Level 5 foundational degree (Fda) in Game Design and Production. There is also the option to top up to a Level 6 full BA (Hons) degree.

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Why sixth form is different to school

A fresh start

Sometimes you just need a clean break to become the person you were destined to be. Starting college is the perfect opportunity to break free and become that new person!

New people

Our diverse student community means that you will meet lots of new people of different ages, backgrounds and interests, so you can enjoy making lifelong friendships!

Specialist Staff

Most of our lecturers are industry savvy and are experts in teaching 16-18 year olds. They have lots of valuable experience and knowledge to pass onto you.


College is a more mature and relaxed environment than school and you are treated like an adult. You’ll be on first name terms with your lecturers so no more Sir and Miss! You can also start to make your own decisions.

Free time

Your timetable will be very different to school. You will have a lot more free time to take part in extra-curricular activities, study, or get extra money and work experience with a part-time job.

Different environment

College is a very different learning environment to school. You may even become more inspired and have a new motivation to work towards your future goal in a college environment.

More choice

A college can offer a much wider choice of A-Level subjects, plus vocational courses in lots of different subjects and at different levels.

More opportunities

You will have the opportunity to take part in lots of different activities outside of the classroom to boost your confidence and help you develop your skills and personal qualities.

Specialist facilities

A college can invest in an extensive range of industry-standard facilities to give you the skills and knowledge to prepare for university or employment, and can also offer subjects that need specialist facilities.

97.2% of our students progress to a positive destination

(*Destination data for Hartlepool Sixth Form students aged 16-18, academic year 2017/18).

Why choose Hartlepool Sixth Form?

We are the College of the Year.

(*Top college nationally for BTECs, Pearson 2019)

100% pass rate in 20 A-Level subjects including Computer Science, Economics, History and Maths. 

*Summer 2019

99.1% overall A-Level pass rate

*Summer 2019

We have recently invested in a brand new state-of-the-art digital suite and health simulation ward.