Art & Design – Fine Art Pathway

Why study Fine Art?
  • This course allows students to develop their fine art skills in areas such as drawing, painting, 3D/installation, textiles, printmaking, mixed media and photography.
  • This is a creative course, with the emphasis on practical project work, supported by analytical and written elements throughout.
  • A qualification in Fine Art can open doors to a range of career options such as Community arts worker, Illustrator, Fine artist, Textiles Designer/Maker, Higher education lecturer, Printmaker and Exhibition designer.
Why study Fine Art at Solihull Sixth Form College?
  • Students have gone on to study Fine Art at Camberwell, University of the Arts London, Loughborough University, Edinburgh College of Art and Norwich University of the Arts. Other progression routes include Illustration at Birmingham City University and Architecture at the University of Sheffield.
  • You will have the opportunity to collaborate on a live brief with a client, gaining invaluable vocational experience. Past students have had the opportunity to work with Ensall & Hall, who create contemporary prints for the fashion and interior design industries.
  • There will also be the opportunity to take part in a range of additional trips and visits. In previous years, students have visited places such as the National Portrait Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery.
  • You will have access to all staff in the Art department, as well as equipment. This includes 2 Fine Art studios, a Sculpture studio with a kiln and a print studio, including a brand new screen-printing facility.
  • Your end of Year 12 and Year 13 final outcomes will be exhibited in the department’s end of year exhibition. During this time you will have the opportunity to compete for prizes including The Arden Prize for Fine Art and the Stephen Earl Rogers Prize for Painting.

Course Outline

Year 12
The specification allows for an introductory, skills based period where students’ work will not be externally assessed. This is a time for experiencing the opportunity of working with a wide and exciting range of materials, media and processes. You will develop a foundation of practical skills in areas such as drawing, painting, collage, textiles, printmaking, digital/moving image and 3D, whilst gaining experience in producing a high quality project, from research stages through to final outcomes. You will be supported by your teachers, who will be preparing you for the challenge of the personal investigation project, which you will start later on in the year and continue with in Year 13. Students will be introduced to a range of contextual inspirations and will develop skills in research and analysis in order to support your practical investigation.

Year 13
The second year is split into two components; the personal investigation project that will be completed by the end of January, and the externally-set assignment, which runs from the start of February to the handing-in day in the middle of May. Both of these projects will be an opportunity for you to follow a personal direction, building on your individual strengths, interests and future progression goals.

Personal Investigation: The personal investigation project, which is practical by nature, leads to a final piece(s) and is supported by a compulsory written element that links the work of other practitioners to the project. In this component you are in charge and with our support you will produce a portfolio of work that reflects your strengths and interests. You will be encouraged to work in a variety of ways, exploring fully the subject you have chosen. You will work within 2 areas of study for this component.

The Externally Set Assignment: Similar to the last component, but working from a series of starting points set by AQA, you will produce a portfolio of work that leads to a final piece(s), produced in exam conditions. This work will be personal to you and can be produced using techniques and materials that you have chosen. Students, by this stage, are independent learners who work alongside the teachers in the department to realise their ambitions and be given support with their chosen progression pathway. You will work within 1 or more areas of study for this component.

Independent studio practice: Each week, in addition to lessons, you will have a timetabled session for independent studio practice. These sessions provide you with access to the studio facilities and equipment (including IT facilities, textiles facilities, photography studio, print room, 3D studio etc.), supported by our technicians. You will use this time for continuous development of your practical and contextual investigations.


The Personal Investigation (Coursework) – 60%
Externally Set Assignment (Exam) – 40%
Examining Board – AQA

Special Entry Requirements

A GCSE or equivalent qualification at grade 4 or above in Art, Photography, Graphics, Textiles or Design and Technology is essential. Students must be prepared to work hard and have a passion for this subject. A personal approach is encouraged throughout the course and it is expected that students will work in their own time to independently develop their projects. In addition, standard A level entry requirements apply.

Prohibited Options

Students can only study on one pathway (Graphics & 3D Design, Photography or Fine Art). For this reason, students interested in 2 or more pathways would be best suited to the BTEC Art & Design Practice course.

What do our students go on to do?

Some students wishing to go onto an Art or Design career progress straight on to specialist degree level courses or in some cases take an Art Foundation course for one year. We are very successful at placing our students on these courses. We also aim to provide students with relevant employability skills to support progression in the work place. Through the year, ex-students visit to share their experiences of progression both at HE and in employment. We also host a wide range of talks from universities and professionals.

Cost Implications

The College supplies most art materials that you will need during your lessons and materials such as paint, clay, paper etc. are available in all studios. Students are strongly advised to buy an Art Starter Pack (£30)at the start of the year which contains sketchbooks, folders and brushes from the Department. Please note, this course requires students to purchase electronic storage devices (such as an external hard drive) to save and store large files, such as images and music. We advise that students also back up these files via online Cloud storage such as Microsoft OneDrive to ensure their files are secure. In both Y12 and Y13, students are required to attend a compulsory local visit. Visits usually cost between £20 and £30. An overseas trip to visit galleries and museums in a major European city is also open to all Visual Arts students – we have visited many cities including Barcelona, Paris, Madrid and Rome & Florence. This visit usually costs about £650.

Complementary Subjects or Enrichment Courses

Year 12 students can join the College’s Visual Arts Academy, which is a Qualification Enrichment. This opportunity is ideal for students aspiring to study Architecture at University or wishing to develop work for a portfolio that is not covered in this A level (e.g. Fashion Design). Other enrichment options that complement Visual Arts courses include the Student Magazine and the Stretch & Challenge programme.

This information is correct for September 2022 entry.

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