This is course information for 2019 entry (which we are no longer enrolling for). An update for 2020 entry will follow soon.

This course allows students to develop their design, illustration and digital photography skills, as well as introducing a range of computer design software. This is a creative course, with the emphasis on practical project work, supported by analytical and written elements throughout. Essential and meaningful gallery visits will help inform your contextual investigation and support your idea generation. You will also have the opportunity to collaborate on a live brief in which you will be asked to design a poster for the department’s end of year exhibition, gaining invaluable vocational experience. A prize will be awarded to for the chosen designer and the poster will by screen-printed both for display and your portfolio. Your end of Year 12 and Year 13 final outcomes will be exhibited in the department’s end of year exhibition. You will be supported in developing a portfolio of your work throughout the year which will aid your progression in to both HE and/or employment.

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 skills in areas such as drawing, the use of computers and design related software as well as printing techniques. 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. You 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 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.

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.


The Personal Investigation (Coursework) – 60%
Externally-set Assignment (Exams) – 40%
Examining Board – AQA.

Special Entry Requirements

A GCSE pass of grade 4 or above (A-C) in Art, 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 study on the following courses: A level Art, A level Graphics, A level Photography. Students interested in more than one should be aware that although they are able to take two subjects from the Art specification, some universities may only recognise the combined grades as one A level. Before starting the course students are strongly advised to check how this may affect their future application to Higher Education. For this reason students cannot study both A level Graphics and A level Photography together at the College. Students interested in all 3 options would be best suited to the BTEC Art & Design course.

Career and Progression Opportunities

Students wishing to go onto an Art or Design career, can 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 materials that you will need during your lessons. Students are strongly advised to buy a Graphics Starter Pack at the start of the year which contains sketchbooks, folders and pens from the Department. These are sold at a reduced cost and become essential for producing and storing the work you will create throughout the two years of your course. Please note, this course requires students to purchase electronic storage devices (such as an external hard drives) to save and store large files, such as images and music. Students will not be able to save these large files onto the College IT network. 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 Year 12 and Year 13, students are required to attend a compulsory local visit. This ensures all students are able to experience a gallery/museum setting to develop their practical and contextual understanding. The visit will inform essential visual recording and research for the Introductory Project, Personal Investigation and Externally Set Assignment.


In additional to the set visits, 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 Ikon Gallery and the Ashmolean Museum. These 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 – in 2016 this trip was to Paris, in 2017 it was to Barcelona and Rome & Florence in 2018. This visits usually cost £650 on average.

Other Information

You will have access to all staff in the department, as well as equipment. This includes over 40 Apple iMacs with the latest design software, including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. We also have drawing tablets, DSLR cameras and a range of printers which consists of A4/A3 inkjets, as well as an A3 laser printer. We also have a print studio which you will have access to, which includes a brand new screen-printing facility. You will be expected to develop your work both during formal lessons and in your own time. The department operates an open door policy, encouraging students to return during private study time and work independently in the studios. This course can be tailored to your needs and aspirations, providing a first rate grounding for progression to university.

This information is correct for September 2019 entry.

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