Art & Design – Graphics and 3D Design Pathway

Graphics & 3D and Photography pathways may be delivered together in Year 12 and/or Year 13
Why study Graphics?
  • This course allows students to develop their 2D & 3D 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.
  • Graphic & 3D designers are always in demand, particularly those with digital skills.
  • A Graphics qualification opens the door to a huge range of careers including Graphic Designer, Product Designer, Brand Identity Developer, Packaging Designer, Illustrator, Motion Graphics Designer and Web Designer.
Why study Graphics at Solihull Sixth Form College?
  • Students have successfully gone on to study Graphic Communication at Birmingham City University, Graphic Design at Nottingham Trent University and Graphic and Communication Design at the University of Leeds.
  • Essential and meaningful gallery visits will help inform your contextual investigation and support your idea generation.
  • 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. An overseas trip to visit galleries and museums in a major European city is also open to all Visual Arts students.
  • 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 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 to both HE and/or employment.

Course Outline

Year 12
The specification allows for an introductory, skills based period. This is an opportunity to work with a wide and exciting range of materials, media and processes. You will develop skills in areas such as drawing, 3D design and making skills, the use of computers and design related software as well as printing techniques. You will be supported by your teachers in 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.

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. 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 (Graphics & 3D design).

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 (Graphics &/or 3D design).


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

Special Entry Requirements

A GCSE or equivalent qualification at grade 4 or above in Art, Photography, Graphics, Textiles, Design and Technology or Media 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?

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 & 3D Starter Pack (£30) 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. Visits usually cost between £20 and £30. Students will get the chance to visit local artists’ studios too. 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 course allows you to focus your Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on an area of study that is not covered in the A level. 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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