SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications submitted for public comment, or registered on the National Qualifications Framework, are public property. Thus, the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction: it is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

Higher Certificate in Art Direction and Graphic Design 
91755  Higher Certificate in Art Direction and Graphic Design 
The Design, Art Direction & Animation Academy (DADA) 
CHE - Council on Higher Education  HEQSF - Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework 
Higher Certificate  Field 02 - Culture and Arts  Design Studies 
Undefined  120  Not Applicable  NQF Level 05  Regular-Provider-ELOAC 
Reregistered  SAQA 06120/18  2018-07-01  2021-06-30 
2022-06-30   2025-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of the course is two-fold. Firstly, it aims to produce well-rounded students capable of performing a junior, generalist job at the entry level of the brand communications industry, as print graphic designers, or junior art directors, or both. This not only serves the needs of students, but industry too.

Secondly, it is an intensive foundation year, which prepares those students who wish to pursue future advanced study. It provides a solid foundation for study in a variety of creative communication art fields, such as art direction, graphic design, web design, environmental design, animation, 3D animation and gaming.

Graduates will obtain vocational and academic skills and abilities that allow them to successfully enter into a variety of fields within the brand communication industry and become valuable contributions therein. The successful student will display the following attributes:
  • Critical and conceptual thinking ability.
  • Creative and problem-solving ability.
  • Independent research ability.
  • Professional computer production skills.
  • Media and print production methods and processes comprehension and analytical ability.
  • Effective oral and written communications skills.
  • Team orientated skills.

    Successful students will be able to confidently apply for employment in the following types of positions: junior graphic designer in a design studio, junior art director in an advertising agency, graphic designer/art director in a through-the-line studio, designer in an in-house creative studio, junior designer in book or magazine publishing, designer at a printer, designer at a sign manufacturer, desk-top publisher.

    This qualification has been developed, with the help of active, senior industry personnel, to address the current needs of the brand communication industry, by placing an emphasis on preparing and presenting a portfolio of relevant artwork, on learning about the industry itself and on a balance of manual and practical skills, with theoretical subjects and software training.

    It has also been developed to give students with potential the opportunity to enter the industry with competent skills after one year of intensive study, rather than having to afford fees for a longer period of study. This will allow for the inclusion of disadvantaged and previously-disadvantaged students to follow a career path in the industry. In addition, it can form a foundation year for those students who want to and can afford to study further in a similar or allied field.

    Typical candidate students are those with an aptitude for and basic proficiency in art or technical drawing or creative thinking or computer work, who wish to pursue a career in art direction and graphic design, or any other creative career in the brand communication industry.

    Although the industry has for some time operated in a digital, technological environment, concept and art skills - intellectual and craft ability - are still the foundation on which the industry functions. It needs creative artists, who are adept in the basic manual skills of communication art, so students are given solid grounding in manual art direction and graphic design, as well as computer skills.

    The qualification is an optimum mixture of theory (such as history, appreciation of design and advertising, and structure and operations of agencies), relevant practical assignments (real world, real brands) and computer software lessons (the relevant Adobe design software).

    The digital era has brought about several new job types to the creative industry. In addition, a major shift towards technology, specifically software knowledge, expertise and specialisation has occurred recently. As brand communication has become more sophisticated, people entering industry need to know more about it to be able to secure a job. They also need to be multi-skilled or generalists, as the vast majority of jobs require generalist skills. 

    It is assumed that learners are competent in communication and have achieved the equivalent of a NQF Level 4 qualification.

    Recognition of Prior Learning:
    Learners may achieve this qualification in part through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Learners may apply for credits or exemptions for subjects already passed in-house or at other recognised institutions. Skills, knowledge and experience in respect of competencies aquired through informal or non-formal learning are also assessed in the RPL process for access into the qualification.

    Access to the Qualification:
  • Senior Certificate with Matriculation exemption.
  • National Senior Certificate (NSC) granting access to Certificate studies.
  • National Certificate Vocational (NCV), at NQF Level 4 granting access to Certificate studies.
  • Candidates having attempted Matriculation/Grade 12, having attained the age of 23 before or during the first year of registration with three years' work experience and proven ability relating to the proposed programme as well as adequate communicative skills. 


    All modules are at NQF Level 5 and are compulsory:
  • Drawing and Illustration, 20 Credits.
  • History of Graphic Design and Art Direction, 5 Credits.
  • The Brand Communication Industry, 10 Credits.
  • The Media, 5 Credits.
  • Production Theory, 5 Credits.
  • Graphic Design, 25 Credits.
  • Art Direction, 25 Credits.
  • Digital Design and Production, 10 Credits.
  • Portfolio and Professional Practice, 15 Credits.
    Total: 120 Credits. 

    1. Use various drawing and illustration tools, styles and techniques and knowledge of the history of drawing and illustration to create visual ideas.
    2. Demonstrate theoretical knowledge of the history of art direction and graphic design, the various theories of the brand communication industry, its disciplines and associated media and production theory.
    3. Produce typographical designs, brand identities and the relevant format and media expressions.
    4. Generate advertising in various formats for various media, for advertising campaigns.
    5. Use various software packages to produce graphic design and advertising executions.
    6. Create and present a personalised portfolio of artwork. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Describe the fundamental methods of observational and expressive drawing practice.
  • Apply knowledge of form, structure, colour, mass, light and shade in drawing from life.
  • Use a number of different drawing tools and techniques.
  • Draw the human and other life forms.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of illustration styles.
  • Process and evaluate visual concepts.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in analytical and expressive drawing techniques.
  • Apply graphic representations to ideas.
  • Communicate effectively through visual media.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the history of illustration and techniques.
  • Use research and compare different illustration styles in history.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the history and the evolution of visual communication.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • Explain how symbols, illustration, advertising and typography developed.
  • Identify and compare the study of different important periods that launched new eras.
  • Describe and evaluate the seven brand communication disciplines, how technology has changed design and advertising and possible developments in the future of design technology.
  • Describe the structure of an agency and how it operates.
  • Describe the roles, responsibilities and functions in a creative studio.
  • Describe the component parts of a creative brief and show knowledge of their order, definitions and functions.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the component parts of the media and their functions and uses.
  • Explain the Living Standards Measurement as a target audience tool.
  • Explore and discuss the colour systems, sizes, formats, and paper types used in art direction and graphic design.
  • Assess the various types of printing and the pre-production requirements.
  • Describe the various formats and sizes of print media.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of fonts and font families, types, history and software.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Demonstrate practical knowledge, understanding of, and ability with typography in graphic design.
  • Render sketches and finished colour drawings of ideas.
  • Demonstrate practical and theoretical knowledge of the roles of symbols and illustration in graphic design.
  • Demonstrate the practical ability to design brand identities - logotypes, fonts, colour, component parts of a brand signature, expressions of a brand signature and design language.
  • Understand a brand persona and interpret it into a brand identity.
  • Demonstrate a practical ability to design packaging and other three-dimensional elements.
  • Demonstrate an ability to make oral, digital and mechanical presentations.
  • Demonstrate the ability to process, analyse and evaluate graphic design executions.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 4:
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of typography in advertising.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and use of various illustrative techniques, in rendering advertising ideas.
  • Use the principles of layout design to create visual concepts which engage an audience.
  • Render ideas as advertising for different media using the principles of different disciplines.
  • Use concepts, visual, communication and rendering skills to present advertising ideas and finished executions.
  • Create advertising campaigns.
  • Compose oral, digital and mechanical presentations.
  • Process, analyse and evaluate advertising executions.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 5:
  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills in computer operation and maintenance for use in graphic design.
  • Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of Mac operating systems and associated software, freeware, stock vector and photographic and font libraries.
  • Demonstrate competence in an efficient system of file naming, storage and archiving.
  • Create various/different file formats.
  • Demonstrate aptitude in the fundamentals of digital design and production methods and systems using the relevant design software packages.
  • Digitally design and produce ideas and designs.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 6:
  • Design a personal brand identity.
  • Personalise a portfolio with a brand identity and extend it onto basic operational stationery.
  • Design and compile a portfolio of artwork.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the tenets of professional practice in the industry.

    Integrated Assessment:
    An integrated approach to assessment is incorporated into the qualification.

    Formative and summative assessment:
    Formative assessment occurs with every written test and practical assignment.

    Summative assessment occurs at the end of each of four terms. The final summative assessment occurs with the presentation by the students of a final portfolio of work.

    Continuous assessment is provided through:
  • Compilation of a portfolio.
  • Practical assignments.
  • Written tests.
  • Peer group evaluation.
  • Competency evaluations of skills.
  • Face to face contact with learners. 

    India - WLCI College: Professional Certificate II-Visual Communication:
    During this programme, students undertake 'live' projects, integrating theory and practice which support career prospects and further education. Students are provided with a Unique Traineeship opportunity to work in the industry where they gain experience in handling challenging projects in a competitive environment.

    Students undertake industry briefs in which they demonstrate their understanding of design and brand communication that match current industry trends. They learn to work in cross-functional teams and develop creative proposals based on an understanding of the market and consumer requirements. This is followed by creating storyboards, media treatments visuals and presenting highly-finished 'industry benchmarked' proposals for campaigns. In the Self Negotiated Final Project (SNFP) students present their ideas, research and strategy and concept development relevant to the project.

    Students learn to use 3DS Max, Web for internet advertising, e-business and interactive multimedia. They also learn to create an animated sequence using animation software.

    Course Curriculum:
  • Portfolio Development.
  • Self Negotiated Final Project (SNFP).
  • New Media.
  • 3DS Max.
  • TVC Copywriting (Optional unit).
  • Group Exhibition.

    The United Kingdom - University of Arts London College of Communication: Foundation Diploma in Art and Design:
    This is a year-long course, designed to prepare students for art, design and media courses in higher education.

    The aim of the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design is to provide students with the opportunity to explore and experiment within a wide range of project-based art, design and media-based activities in order to prepare them for progression into Higher Education art, design and media courses. The course provides a structure to assist students in making informed choices for future education and careers.

    The Foundation course draws on the expertise of staff teaching within the following Pathway areas:
  • Graphic design.
  • Film.
  • Photography.
  • 3D Design.
  • Surface design.

    The Higher Certificate: Art Direction and Graphic Design compares favourably with the given international qualifications in terms of content and duration. The Higher Certificate: Art Direction and Graphic Design goes further by incorporating aspects of media and brand communication, whiles the two qualifications deal specifically with design only. 

    Horizontal Articulation:
    Learners will be able to access further study at an NQF 5 Level in all areas of creative practice and advertising such Art Direction, Graphic Design, Web Design, Animation, 3D Animation, Gaming, Marketing, Copywriting, Media Studies and Photography.

    Vertical Articulation:
    Upon successful completion of the Higher Certificate: Art Direction and Graphic Design, a learner may continue with Advanced Certificate or Diploma in the same or similar disciplines such as Art Direction, Graphic Design, Web Design, Animation, 3D Animation and Gaming. 

  • Internal and external moderation/examination will be conducted.
  • Internal assessment of practical assignments is executed by the lecturer of each subject. Theory written tests are assessed by the lecturer and moderated by the course coordinator or another lecturer, where the coordinator is also the lecturer.
  • An overall term practical assessment is made by the lecturer and moderated by the course coordinator or another lecturer, where the coordinator is also the lecturer.
  • The final portfolio is assessed by all lecturers and moderated by the course coordinator and an external moderator.
  • An external moderator will be appointed according to the existing moderation guidelines of the HEQC.
  • Moderators must show competence in the moderation process and procedures and must be subject matter experts.
  • The Moderator will conduct moderation activities to ensure that:
    > The standard of achievement is uniform.
    > The achievement of competencies and assessment processes as described in the Exit Level Outcomes and Integrated Assessment options as described above is validated.
    > Each assessment task matches the specified outcomes and performance criteria listed in the subject guide.
    > Assessment is consistent through "cross-marking" a sample of submissions.
    > All relevant resources required for the assessment task are available.
    > Accurate and current records of students' performance are maintained.
    > Timely feedback is provided to students. 

    For an applicant to register as an assessor, the applicant needs:
  • Interpersonal skills, subject matter expertise and assessment experience.
  • To be competent in the planning and conducting of assessment of learning outcomes.
  • A qualification of at least one level higher than NQF Level 5, in a similar or related field.
  • Minimum of 5 years', preferably 10 years' experience within the art direction, graphic design or associated environment. 

  • NOTES 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
    1. The Design, Art Direction & Animation Academy (DADA) 
    2. The Design, Art Direction and Animation Academy Pty Ltd 

    All qualifications and part qualifications submitted for public comment, or registered on the National Qualifications Framework, are public property. Thus, the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction: it is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.