Gaussian beam mode analysis (GBMA) offers a more intuitive physical insight into how light beams evolve as they propagate than the conventional Fresnel diffraction integral approach. In this paper we illustrate that GBMA is a computationally efficient, alternative technique for tracing the evolution of a diffracting coherent beam. In previous papers we demonstrated the straightforward application of GBMA to the computation of the classical diffraction patterns associated with a range of standard apertures. In this paper we show how the GBMA technique can be expanded to investigate the effects of aberrations in the presence of diffraction by introducing the appropriate phase error term into the propagating quasi-optical beam. We compare our technique to the standard diffraction integral calculation for coma, astigmatism and spherical aberration, taking-for comparison-examples from the classic text 'Principles of Optics' by Born and Wolf. We show the advantages of GBMA for allowing the defocusing of an aberrated image to be evaluated quickly, which is particularly important and useful for probing the consequences of astigmatism and spherical aberration.