Art and Design

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AQA Art and Design 

To complete the full A level in Art & Design students must complete 2 modules over 2 years, both modules are assessed at the end of year 13. The first module is the “Personal Investigation” which is worth 60% of the final grade and the second module is the “Externally Set Assignment” which makes up the remaining 40%. The A level is no longer formed of the ‘AS’ plus ‘A2’.

A Level Art & Design provides the skills and experience for students to study a wide range of Higher Education courses such as Architecture, Fine Art, Illustration, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Photography, Textile Design, 3D Design, Web Design, and many more. Most students wishing to study a degree that will enable them to pursue a career in the Creative Sector will need A Level Art & Design to access their chosen course. 

Entry requirements

Art & Design is a very demanding course in terms of the amount of time students must spend on their work outside of lessons. You should not consider opting for A Level Art & Design if you are not extremely motivated and passionate about the subject.   

Students applying to study A Level Art & Design must have achieved at least a grade 5 in GCSE Art & Design. 

Course structure

Year 12 is comprised of two components. We begin with a series of workshops aimed at developing confidence with knowledge, skills, techniques and processes. In January students are given the opportunity to select their own theme and independently produce a body of work in response to that theme. At the end of Year 12 there is a residential trip that prepares students for the “Personal Investigation” that is going to be completed at the start of Year 13. After February half term students will receive the “Externally Set Assignment”.

Course content

Workshop Component

During this component, students will be given a broad theme such “Portraiture” or “Natural Forms”. Students will be introduced to a range of Artists, Craftspeople and Practitioners and develop their knowledge, skills and ability to analyse and evaluate. This aspect of the component will be supported by visits to galleries, museums and exhibitions. We have close links with all major galleries and work in conjunction to deliver workshops and sessions taught by gallery staff both in school and in the galleries. During this component, students are introduced to a wide range of practical skills, techniques and approaches to gathering visual information and making art. The aim of this part of the course is to develop confidence through a process of experimentation and investigation. Techniques that will be introduced include drawing using a wide range of materials, painting using watercolours, acrylics and oils, dry point etching, lino printing, reduction printing and many more.  

Independent Project

The Independent Project acts as preparation for the “Externally Set Assignment” and follows the same structure and time scale. Students choose their own starting point and produce a body of work that covers all assessment objectives and concludes in a series of outcomes.

Personal Study

The “Personal Study” is an independent project that is based on a starting point that the student selects with support from teachers. This component of the course is very important and the chosen theme needs to be considered with a lot of consideration. Students produce a substantial body of work that covers all assessment objectives and concludes in a series of outcomes. There is a short written element required as part of the “Personal Study” within which students need to explain their ideas, inspiration and how their project has progressed.

Externally Set Assignment

The “Externally Set Assignment” is set by the Exam Board. Students get a list of 7 or 8 starting points or themes from which they need to choose one. They are then required to independently construct a body of work in response to their chosen theme that covers all assessment objectives and concludes in a series of outcomes that are produced during the timed 15 hour controlled session.


The “Personal Investigation” is worth 60% of the final grade and the “Externally Set Assignment” makes up the remaining 40%. The “Externally Set Assignment” concludes with a timed 15 hour controlled session during which students are expected to produce the outcomes that conclude their projects.

All of the work that the students produce must address the four Assessment Objectives. Each Assessment Objective contributes one quarter of the final mark for each component.

Assessment Objective 1: Develop ideas through sustained and focused investigations informed by contextual and other sources, demonstrating analytical and critical understanding.

Assessment Objective 2: Explore and select appropriate resources, media, materials, techniques and processes, reviewing and refining ideas as work develops.

 Assessment Objective 3: Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions, reflecting critically on work and progress.

Assessment Objective 4: Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and, where appropriate, makes connections between visual and other elements.

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