Art and Design

Qualification: A-Level

Awarding Body:
Students follow the AQA Specification at A level
Length of Course:
2 years



This course is made up of 3 units which comprise of:

Coursework Portfolio

  • Students produce a portfolio of work from school set starting points, topics. Currently these themes are ‘Portraits and the Figure’ and ‘Structures.’ Both topics allow students a vast degree of individuality and creativity whilst enabling them to explore a range of materials and processes relevant to their personal intentions. The main focus of this is the inclusion of work that shows exploration, research, acquisition of techniques and skills whilst working towards a personalised outcome.
  • Students produce and select for submission a body of work which reflects their best artistic practice while simultaneously answering the grading criteria of the course. Staff facilitate this learning by guiding students and highlighting areas within their portfolio which may need strengthening, ultimately assisting each student to achieve a high level of work which can be examined.
  • The Portfolio is assessed holistically through all of the four assessment objectives. Students are given a range of opportunities to respond to these objectives in personally creative ways, open to their own artistic interpretation.



Personal Investigation (60% of A level marks)

  • Students submit one major project that has personal significance to them. They decide this topic in conversation with their subject teacher, after the completion of their year 12 studies. This topic is heavily personalised and acts as a portfolio in which students can explore a theme related directly to a university course or area of study in further education, for example, Architecture.  The subsequent portfolio produced can then accompany students to university interviews to demonstrate their high ability and level of creative work in a variety of disciplines.
  • Their Personal Investigation is also accompanied by a piece of related critical writing. This draws upon significant artists or periods in Art history which relate to their chosen theme. The essay should be between 3000 and 3500 This assignment acts as an academic accompaniment to the creative characteristics addressed in their portfolio.  It is assessed as part of their whole coursework under the umbrella of assessment objective one.

Exam – Externally Set Task (40% of A level marks)


  • Students select one starting point from a question paper set by the board and are given a set period of preparatory time in which to complete it. This begins on 1st Feb or at the nearest point after this date.  Between February and April, they work on their preparatory work in their sketchbook, utilizing class time, study periods and any gained time at home.
  • At the end of the exam period students are given 15 hours of controlled time to realise their ideas into final outcomes. This takes the form of three days off timetable, normally at the end of April.
  • The end of the 15 hours exam time signifies the end of the entire A level course. Some changes and additions may be added to student’s coursework modules but assessment of work begins in the middle of May internally within the department and subsequently this is moderated.


  • The setup of the A level course is very similar to a GCSE course in an Art subject. Students who have this prior knowledge often find it easier to manage time and commitments as they have learned from the GCSE expectations.  The department aims to undertake a continental tour as often as is practical to allow students to view work in some of the greatest galleries in Europe and to be inspired by the places they visit.  In recent years we have visited Amsterdam, London, Paris, Barcelona and Venice.  We believe this AQA course to be the most challenging and rewarding for all students wishing to embark upon a creative career path.  Its breadth and depth have significant impact across a multitude of further education subject areas and establishments. This is reflected in the university entries and submissions in recent years. We have had students apply to study at some of the most prestigious art schools across the UK such as the Glasgow School of Art and Central St. Martins, whilst also encouraging students into more local universities and courses including, Sunderland, Newcastle, Teesside and The Northern School of Art.

Entry Requirements

It is desirable but not essential to have a Grade 5 at GCSE