SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications 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 Print and Publishing Design 
85248  Higher Certificate in Print and Publishing Design 
Friends of Design - Academy of Digital Arts 
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 1141/23  2021-07-01  2024-06-30 
2025-06-30   2028-06-30  

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. 


This qualification is designed for individuals who seek a thorough grounding in the knowledge and skills needed to work in the print media industries. Successful completion of the qualification will enable progression into an Advanced Certificate, Diploma or Degree programme in the same or a similar field.

The course is intended for the individual to master the latest print-related technologies and develop and utilise design skills acquired on the course to produce professional and appropriate visual print and screen solutions to suit their client's needs.

Learners will master the tools, practices and terminology required to work in the print media industry, and be confident to apply their skills from pre-press to post-press. Learners will develop skills and knowledge in design and layout to produce print-ready publications, using industry-standard applications such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Acrobat, together with all the essential skills needed to create documents for print and digital distribution.

On completion of the qualification, successful learners will be able to:
  • Receive a brief and conceptualise a visual solution.
  • Present the ideas professionally through the use of scamping, storyboarding and moodboards.
  • Execute a concept digitally through the use of and integration of the wide range of industry standard application programmes.
  • Apply finishing art techniques to take to press.
  • Present the final work in a professional manner.

    The programme is intended to address the urgent skills shortage in the country and make further education more accessible to the masses.


    The qualification is primarily vocational and oriented to the Print and Publishing industry. The qualification serves to provide students with the basic introductory knowledge, cognitive and conceptual tools and practical techniques for further higher education studies in their chosen field of study. The knowledge emphasises general principles and application.

    This qualification signifies that the learner has attained a basic level of higher education knowledge and competence in Print and Publishing and is capable of applying such knowledge and competence in an occupation or role in the workplace. The Higher Certificate includes a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) component.

    Rapid advancements in technology and the presence of the pixel era in which we live and professionally function has led to a greater demands on the average creative professional to implement a broader set of skills to produce a wider range of material. The demand for designers, both locally and internationally, is also increasing because of the rapidly expanding market for Web-based information and expansion of the video entertainment market, including television, movies, video and made-for-Internet outlets. Designers with Website design and animation experience will especially be needed, as demand for design projects increases for interactive media, websites, video games, cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other technology.

    There is an important need in the print design market for skilled, digital design-competent graduates. The qualification encompasses specific practical exercises and practical projects in print design, interactive design, interface design, motion graphic and dynamic web design. It also pursues theoretical aspects of design, as well as business practice studies in the area of digital media. A strongly studio-based working method maximises opportunities for group work, peer learning and the development of a strong team ethos. The qualification's general approach is to equip the students with the tools and techniques to plan, analyse and create visual solutions to communication problems. They will be able to independently decide the most effective way of portraying a message in a print environment, using a variety of methods such as colour, type, illustration, and various print and layout techniques. Learners advance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical work, exercises and critique in a group context. We believe that this learning approach will make them more employable in the current market.

    The qualification will prepare learners for a wide range of careers, such as: Game Design, Web Design, Graphic Design, Virtual Exhibit Design, Exhibit Design, Communication Design, Advertising, Medical Imaging and Presentation and Education. 

  • Proficiency in English at NQF Level 4.

    Recognition of Prior Learning:

    This qualification may be achieved in part through the recognition of relevant prior learning and through prior experience as a practitioner in one of the sub-fields of Arts and Design. Such assessment of individual cases is subject to moderation by independent-assessors.

    Access to the Qualification:

    Access to the Higher Certificate is granted to learners in possession of a National Senior Certificate granting access to Higher Certificate study. 


    The qualification consists of the following eight NQF Level 5 modules, all of which are compulsory:
  • Freestyle/Introduction to Desktop Publishing: 32 credits.
  • Raster Image Editing/Manipulation: 28 credits.
  • Electronic Portfolio and Presentation Techniques: 4 credits.
  • Layout Design Principles and Techniques: 16 credits.
  • Vector Illustration Principles and Techniques: 24 credits.
  • Interactive Presentation Techniques: 24 credits.
  • Cross Media Publishing: 12 credits.
  • Final Portfolio: 12 credits.

    Total minimum Credits required to achieve the qualification: 152. 

    1. Receive a brief and conceptualise a visual solution.
    2. Present the ideas professionally through the use of scamping, storyboarding and moodboards.
    3. Execute a concept digitally through the use and integration of the wide range of industry standard application programmes.
    4. Apply finishing art techniques to take to press.
    5. Present the final work in a professional manner.

    Critical Cross-Field Outcomes:

    This qualification addresses all the Critical Cross-Field Outcomes. 

    These are applied in an integrated manner to assess the Exit Level Outcomes:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the main areas of Print and Publishing, related disciplines and practices, including an understanding of the key terms, concepts, facts, principles, rules and theories of Print and Publishing and print design, discipline or practice.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of how knowledge (or a knowledge system) develops and evolves within the area of study or operation.
  • Select and apply standard methods, procedures, and/or techniques within the field of Print and Publishing to plan and manage an implementation process within a supported environment.
    > Range of activities include but are not limited to: accepting, reading and understanding a brief, conceptualising a visual solution, sketching and planning the solution, presenting the idea, digital implementation, reverts and corrections and final output onto the planned medium.
  • Identify, evaluate and solve defined, routine and new problems within a familiar context.
  • Apply solutions based on relevant evidence and procedures and/or other forms of explanation appropriate to the field of Print and Publishing.
  • Take account of and act in accordance with prescribed organisational and professional ethical codes of conduct, values and practices.
  • Seek guidance on ethical and professional issues where necessary.
  • Gather information from a range of sources, including oral, written and/or symbolic texts, to select information appropriate to the task.
  • Apply basic processes of analysis, synthesis and evaluation on that information.
  • Communicate information reliably, accurately and coherently, using conventions appropriate to the context, either in writing, verbally or in practical demonstration.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and respect for conventions around intellectual property, copyright and plagiarism.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different kinds of systems, their constituent parts and the relationships between these parts.
  • Operate in a range of familiar and new contexts, indicating how actions in one area impact on other areas within the same system.
  • Demonstrate an ability to take responsibility for own learning within a structured learning process and to promote the learning of others.
  • Assess own and others' performance and to take appropriate action where necessary.
  • Answer for own actions, work effectively with and respect others.
  • Take supervisory responsibility for others in a defined context, including the responsible use of resources where appropriate.

    Integrated Assessment:

    The programme entails a number of tests of ability and understanding throughout the year, including:
  • Observation.
  • Written tests.
  • Oral tests or questioning.
  • Simulation.
  • Case study/ies.
  • Peer reviews.
  • Reports.
  • Portfolios.

    Formative Assessments:

    Formative assessments are most commonly delivered in the form of class exercises, of varying levels of difficulty that not only facilitate the academy's "building block" style training method, but also test the learners' comprehension of the subject matter as the content of the module is taught. These smaller projects are issued on an ongoing basis throughout the learning period.

    The learners work within close proximity of one another, within groups or teams at times and are also required to listen to and evaluate each other's concepts during presentations. They are required to respond to ideas and provide feedback or criticism within a controlled classroom environment.

    Examples of such formative assessments would include demonstrating the use of particular software tools in the software module, such as Photoshop, or demonstrations of application of programming tools within smaller controlled scenarios.

    Summative Assessments:

    More detailed and complex practical projects are delivered at the end of each module to prove the learners' competency in each compulsory module. A further, final comprehensive project is required at the end of the programme to prove the learners' integrated competence in order to obtain the overall qualification. An example of summative assessment required is the final digital portfolio of the years' web and motion graphic works, delivered at the end of the programme on DVD, complete with packaging, CV and business card.

    Internal/ External Moderation:

    The academy follows standard moderation procedures and has an external examiner system in place. 

    The University of Waikato, New Zealand, offers a Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design (BCGD).

    The programme includes:
  • Design 1.
  • Design 2.
  • Graphic Design Study.
  • Historical Studies in Design.
  • Graphic Design Study.
  • Introduction to Computer Science 1.
  • COMP125 - Visual Computing.
  • COMP126 - Computing Media.
  • Computer Graphic Design 1.
  • Computer Graphic Design 2.
  • Critical Studies in Design.
  • Information Discovery.
  • Internet Applications.
  • Programming Usable Systems.
  • Interactive Computing.
  • Computer Graphic Design 3.
  • Computer Graphic Design 4.
  • Intern Project.
  • Degree Project.
  • Interactive Multimedia Systems.
  • Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction.
  • Graphics and Computer Games.

    The Billy Blue College of Design, Sydney, Australia, is renowned for producing creative and successful designers. It offers a Bachelor of Applied Design (Digital Media).

    Course Modules include:
  • Design Culture and Theory.
  • Ideas Generation in Visual Communication.
  • Systems of Communication.
  • Introduction to Design Practice.
  • Frameworks of Design.
  • Typography and Context.
  • Studio Practice.
  • Internet Design Technologies.
  • Introduction to Design Research.
  • 3D Design 1 - Theory Planning and Concept Development.
  • Digital Video Composition and Storytelling.
  • Advanced Internet Design Studio.
  • Social Design Studio.
  • 3D Design 2: Applied 3D Design in Game Design and Animation.
  • Title and Credit Design.
  • Business and Culture of Game Design.
  • Culture of Change and Innovation.
  • Design Studio Management.
  • Design and Business.
  • Positioning the Design Practice.
  • Independent Design Practice 1.
  • Independent Design Practice 2.
  • Design in Practice 1.
  • Design in Practice 2 (Group Interactive Design Project).

    Natcoll is New Zealand's largest specialist private tertiary provider of creative digital technology courses and related resources. It offers a Diploma of Computer Graphic Design with the following course components:
  • Layout design - study the principles of page design, and learn how to design and lay out documents for effective communication.
  • Digital illustration - learn digital illustration and editing methods using a range of techniques.
  • Image capture and manipulation - study the creation of digital imagery, including image capture, manipulation and preparation for print.
  • Design and visualisation - explore a wide range of creative and design processes to achieve effective visual communication.
  • Branding and advertising - investigate the importance of company branding and production of effective advertising material.
  • Pre-press and problem-solving - prepare electronic files for commercial printing, solve the problems associated with producing a quality output.
  • Packaging - design and produce printed packaging items.
  • Typography - explore the nature and treatment of type and its applications.

    Pierce College, Washington, USA is a flourishing two-year public institution in Southern California, providing opportunities for occupational training, transfer education and life-long learning. They offer an Associate in Digital Design Degree Programme which is a two-year, broad-based programme requiring courses in two main areas, namely traditional Graphic Design and Rich Media Production.

    The programme explores:
  • Computer and traditional illustration.
  • Digital photography and image manipulation.
  • Print-based page layout.
  • Web design.
  • 3D modelling.
  • 2D and 3D animation.
  • Video production.
  • DVD authoring.
  • Rich media authoring.

    Graduates are expected to be readily capable of competing for jobs in the graphic arts industry, or they can choose to pursue an advanced degree at a four-year institution.

    The University of Edinburgh is offering a Master of Science in Digital Media and Culture.

    The programme consists of:
  • Introduction to Design Media.
  • Interactive Design Media.
  • Media and Culture.
  • Practice, Reflection and Action.
  • Dynamic Web Design.
  • The Digital Marketplace.
  • Digital Media Studio Project.

    All the above-mentioned programmes are degree programmes and are hence of a longer duration and contain print as well as web and motion graphics. However, all programmes include print design and publishing in the first or second year as focus subjects which is the content and the purpose of Friends of Design's Higher Certificate in Print Design and Publishing.

    Therefore, the Higher Certificate in Print Design and Publishing by Friends of Design is comparable with the above mentioned international programmes. 

    Horizontal Articulation:

    This qualification articulates horizontally with a cognate Higher Certificate at NQF Level 5.

    Vertical Articulation:

    This qualification articulates vertically with a cognate Advanced Certificate or a cognate Diploma at NQF Level 6. 

    The School Director moderates the learner achievements internally according to the Moderation Policy, while an appointed external examiner does so according to the External Examiner System. 

    Assessors and moderators should be in possession of a relevant qualification at least one level higher on the NQF than that of the qualification. 

    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 



    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. Friends of Design - Academy of Digital Arts 

    All qualifications and part qualifications 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.