Course Information

Who is the course for?

This is a chance to extend your skills and to learn more about Graphic Designers, along with improving and developing new techniques. This course is ideal for anyone who wishes to progress to university/college or pursue a career in the Design Industry. The coursework comprises of 60% of the overall mark. It is therefore essential that you are highly motivated to consistently work on your projects. It is not recommended that you study this subject with more than one other art related subject. Graphics is based on ideas and designs that create thought and interest. The course is art based and it is essential that you have good drawing skills. It would not be suitable for anyone interested in technical drawing or product design. The course is structured so that students gradually acquire skills within a disciplined approach. Students are encouraged to solve creative problems with flair, imagination and personal initiative.

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What will I study on the course?

Components of the course include:

  • Drawing
  • Printing
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Digital photography
  • Packaging design
  • Illustration
  • Typography
  • Contextual study for A2 level candidates only
  • Image manipulation on MACs

Unit 1: Coursework

You will develop your understanding of how elements such as colour, surface, composition, line and tone can be used to express ideas. You will also have the opportunity to explore a range of materials and processes to help you record and develop your ideas. Your work will be informed by a growing knowledge of designers' work and clients needs. You will also learn how to develop ideas from a given starting point towards final outcomes. You will be expected to research through a series of ideas usually from observational starting points towards well-made final outcomes.

Unit 2: Externally set assignment

You will be given a theme to respond to which is set by the exam board which will include an eight hour timed test. You will be expected to demonstrate the skills you have learnt in Unit 1.

To gain a full A level award you will study a further two units in your A2 year: 

Unit 3: Coursework; practical work and personal study

You will produce a written, illustrated study of an aspect of graphic design. You will demonstrate your skills of research, analysis and evaluation. Your choice of topic should reflect the interests you have developed in year one. Studies might look at approaches to advertising campaigns, the use of signs, symbols and meaning in graphic products, historical design trends or target audiences. You will also produce a significant body of practical work leading to a substantial final outcome.

Unit 4: Externally Set Assignment

You will sit another external test as the culmination of your course. As in Unit 2 you will be given a theme in order to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject.

The exam for unit 4 is twelve hours.

You will produce a sketchbook to support each unit which will include drawings, material samples, records of the development of your ideas, reference to other designers and your personal opinions on how your work is progressing.

Your grade at A/S contributes towards 50% of your full A-level grade if you continue into the second year of the course.

The course will develop your research and analytical skills, your ability to solve problems, your visual observation skills, technical making skills and improve your time management.

What other skills will I acquire?

The course will develop your communication and research skills, your ability to solve problems, your visual observation skills and improve your time management.

What will I need for the course?

You will need at least five GCSEs in the A*– C range, including Art or Graphic Design at grade B or above or a sample of your creative work will need to be seen at interview. You will need a pack of materials (we will advise you where these can be purchased) on enrolment to enable you to produce work at home. Any additional materials such as mount board and sketchbooks may need to be purchased throughout the course. A camera is helpful.

What makes this course special?

  •  Fully equipped printmaking studio and MAC suite
  •  Exhibitions throughout the course
  •  End of course public exhibition
  •  Regular visits to art and design galleries and to draw in different locations
  •  Residentials to London, New York and Europe
  •  Opportunities to enter national competitions 
  • Workshops run by visiting designers
  •  Well qualified teaching and support staff with a range of specialist expertise
  •  Linked-in optional evening classes in subjects such as Life Drawing and Photoshop to enhance your experience

What do our students say?

“The course is challenging yet rewarding. Personal development is encouraged and along with excellent one to one support, it has enabled me to become more confident when producing work for my A Level.”— Matthew Bucknall

How will I be assessed?

Your work on the programme is assessed by a range of methods, which may include projects, assignments, case studies, coursework, essays, and presentations throughout the two years. A final exhibition is assessed by an external examiner.

How long is the course?

AS is one year and, dependant on the grade you achieve, you can progress onto the A2 year and complete the full A level.

Can this course lead to University entrance?

Yes. With the full A level qualification you can progress onto HND, Foundation Degree and degree courses in Art and Design related areas. It is usual for students wishing to progress to degree level in Graphic Design to complete a one year Foundation Art, Design and Media course, specifically designed to build a strong portfolio for interviews at the most competitive of universities.

Can this course lead directly to a job?

The course will enable you to see the world around you in a new way, giving you lateral thinking and analytical skills which are greatly desired by employers. The course may also prepare you for employment or freelance work in such areas as:

  • Graphic and lens-based media
  • Illustration
  • Graphic design
  • Advertising
  • Product/packaging design
  • MAC operator
  • Creative direction
  • Three dimensional design
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What Next?