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Art & Design

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Why study Art & Design?

Exam board and specification: AQA A-level Art, craft and design 7201

This is a broad-based course exploring practical and critical/contextual work through a range of 2D and/or 3D processes and media associated with two or more of the titles of either fine art, graphic communication, textile design, three-dimensional design or photography. Students develop practical and theoretical knowledge and understanding of:

  • Relevant materials, processes, technologies and resources
  • How ideas, feelings and meanings can be conveyed and interpreted in images and artefacts
  • How images and artefacts relate to the time and place in which they were made and to their social and cultural contexts
  • Continuity and change in different genres, styles and traditions
  • A working vocabulary and specialist terminology

What is covered by the course?

AS – if relevant

As an art department, students work towards their full A-level from the beginning of year 12. They would only be put in for the AS if they wanted to have this as a stand alone qualification without going on to complete their full A level in year 13.

A-Level year one

Students are introduced to a variety of experiences that explore a range of two-dimensional and/or three-dimensional media, processes and techniques. They are made aware of both traditional and new media. Students explore the use of drawing for different purposes, using a variety of methods and media on a variety of scales. They may use sketchbooks/workbooks/journals to underpin their work where appropriate.

Students should explore relevant images, artefacts and resources relating to a range of art, craft and design, from the past and from recent times, including European and non-European examples. This should be integral to the investigating and making processes. Students' responses to these examples must be shown through practical and critical activities that demonstrate their understanding of different styles, genres and traditions

Students are made aware of the four assessment objectives to be demonstrated in the context of the content and skills presented. Students are also made aware of the importance of process as well as product.

A-level year two

Component 1: Must show evidence of working in areas of study drawn from two or more of the endorsed titles of fine art, graphic communication, textile design, three-dimensional design or photography. This is a practical personal and focused investigation supported by written material. In Component 1, students develop work based on an idea, issue, concept or theme leading to a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes. Practical elements should make connections with some aspect of contemporary or past practice of artist(s), designer(s), photographers or craftspeople and include written work of no less than 1000 and no more than 3000 words, which supports the practical work.

Component 2: Must show evidence of areas of study drawn from one or more of the endorsed titles. The area(s) of study selected for Component 1 can be the same as, or different to, those selected for Component 2. In Component 2, students respond to a stimulus, provided by AQA, to produce work which provides evidence of their ability to work independently within specified time constraints, developing a personal and meaningful response which addresses all the assessment objectives and leads to a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes.

How is it examined?

Component 1: Personal investigation

  • No time limit
  • 96 marks
  • 60% of A-level

Component 2: Externally set assignment

  • Preparatory period (from 1st February) + 15 hours supervised time (in May)
  • 96 marks
  • 40% of A-level

Related university courses and careers:

Typical art careers include: Fine Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, Animator, Graphic designer Architect, Arts administrator, Printmaker, Teacher/university lecturer

University courses: All of the above can be taken as subjects at degree and postgraduate level.

Suggested reading:


National Gallery

Saatchi Gallery

Royal Academy

Design Museum

The Photographers Gallery 


Wallace Collection 

Serpentine Galleries 

Somerset House

British Museum