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Art: Key Stage 5

Why study Art & Design A level?

The appearance of world around us adapts and changes on a daily basis. We are bombarded with visual imagery which our brains try to decipher and decode.

The study of Art and Design enables us to connect with the visual world, making us more aware of what we are seeing and improving our ability to read it.

Our students explore creativity through the study of both traditional and contemporary art with the aim of being conversant with the work of other times and cultures whilst becoming independent creators able to communicate their own ideas.

Our students work with traditional and new media exploring the visual elements of art, developing confidence, competence, imagination and creativity. Art provides students valuable opportunities to experiment, problem solve, reflect and critically judge their own work and that of other artists.

In the Sixth Form students are encouraged to develop their knowledge of materials, practices and technology within art. Students develop their experimental, analytical and documenting skills and their understanding of art, craft and design in history and in contemporary society.

A Level – 9FA0

Link to specification

At A level students’ personal work becomes more self-directed, resulting in a specialised investigation in to an area of specific interest to the student. Outcomes are a combination of practical work and a contextual investigation. The skills developed at AS will be extended to show a greater understanding of media, depth of ideas and the context of their work. The A level course allows students further opportunities to explore a range of media, techniques and ideas whilst encouraging them to respond independently creating personal work to their own theme. Component 1(Internally set, assessed by the teacher and externally moderated - 60% of the Total qualification) incorporates three major elements: supporting studies, practical work, and a personal study. Supporting studies and practical work will comprise a portfolio of development work and outcomes based on themes and ideas developed from personal starting points. The personal study will be evidenced through critical written communication showing contextual research and understanding in a minimum 1000 words of continuous prose, which may contain integrated images. The personal study comprises 12% of the total qualification and is marked out of 18.Work must cover all four Assessment Objectives (Marks available: 90).

The externally set assignment (Component 2) is released in the spring term (February 1st) and students have a preparation period of about 10 school weeks followed by a 15 hour exam period to produce a sustained piece/s in response to the theme and their personal preparation. This component allows students opportunities to generate and develop ideas, research primary and contextual sources, record practical and written observations, experiment with media and processes, and refine ideas towards producing personal resolved outcome(s). Externally set, assessed by the teacher and externally moderated - 40% of the Total qualification. Work must cover all four Assessment Objectives (Marks available: 72).

Subject: Art and Design: Fine Art

Qualification: A level
Exam Board: Eduqas

Component 1 gives you opportunities to explore and cultivate fundamental skills, knowledge and understanding through a variety of experiences. These may include using sources, such as the local environment, gallery visits, workshops or other resources, to gather visually rich research which supports in-depth investigations. During the course you will be encouraged to experiment, collaborate, make informed creative decisions and innovate. Your studies should be developed to achieve appropriate depth and a suitably high degree of rigour.
There is a strong emphasis on the value of drawing skills. All A level Art and Design specifications require you to develop the skills to ‘record experiences and observations, in a variety of ways using drawing or other appropriate visual forms; undertake research; and gather, select and organise visual and other appropriate information’. This focus should you to appreciate the significance of drawing in the widest sense, by recognising and reviewing how it feeds the creative process across disciplines.

Component 1: Personal Investigation (60% of A level 120 marks)

The Personal Investigation consists of two integrated constituent parts:

1. a major in-depth critical, practical and theoretical investigative project/portfolio and outcome/s based on themes and subject matter that have personal significance;
2. an extended written element of 1000 words minimum, which may contain images and texts and must clearly relate to practical and theoretical work using an appropriate working vocabulary and specialist terminology.
- Extended written, critical, contextual and analytical material can take a variety of forms, such as a personal study, an illustrated essay, a digital presentation or blog, illustrated study sheets, a written report, a journal, an article or review and should reflect upon the learner’s work and that of other practitioners.
- Both the practical/theoretical work and the written element will be assessed together using the assessment objectives. Learners will be required to select, evaluate and present their work for assessment.
- The Personal Investigation will be determined by the learner and teacher, assessed by the teacher and externally moderated.

Component 2 Externally Set Assignment (40% of A level – 80 marks)

The Externally Set Assignment consists of two parts:


Part 1: Preparatory study period

- The externally set assignment materials are to be released to learners from 1 February (in the second year of the course) and will consist of a series of visual and written stimuli, which are to be presented to the learner at the start of the preparatory study period.
- One of the stimuli is to be selected by the learner and used as a starting point from which to elicit a personal response.
- Responses are developed during the preparatory study period. They should take the form of critical, practical and theoretical preparatory work/supporting studies which inform the resolution of ideas in the 15 hours sustained focus study.
- The start of the preparatory study period is defined as the date upon which the externally set assignment materials are presented to the learner. The preparatory study period may commence on or after 1 February. The preparatory study period finishes upon commencement of the sustained focus work.

Part 2: 15 hour period of sustained focus work

- The resolution of learners’ ideas from the preparatory work must be completed during the designated 15 hours and they must show how their planning relates to the outcome/s.
- The period of sustained focus work must be completed under supervised conditions.
- Both the preparatory work and sustained focus work will be assessed together, using the assessment objectives.
- Learners will be required to select, evaluate and present their work for assessment.
- The Externally Set Assignment will be set by WJEC, assessed by the teacher and externally moderated.

Assessment Objectives:

The AO’s are equally weighted.


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


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


Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions, reflecting critically on work and progress.


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

In response to the recommendations of the creative industries, higher education, the National Society for Education in Art and Design, the Cultural Learning Alliance, the Arts Council and expert teachers, there is an emphasis being placed on the value of drawing within this A level. Drawing is a fundamental aspect of the creative process and of visual language. This should also strengthen practice, support progression and meet the demands of higher education and/or the creative industries.

The context of drawing within a photography course could include:
- the purposeful use of drawing to record information
- the application of drawing in the designing, visualisation or expression of ideas
- the potential of drawing to communicate possibilities, such as compositional arrangements.

Where could the course take you?

You can progress from this qualification to further education courses such as the BTEC Level 3
Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (QCF) and Higher education courses such as BTEC Higher National Diplomas in art and design subjects, or direct to a BA Honours degree with an art and design focus. Previous students from St. Peter’s have gone on to study the Art Foundation course at CRC or directly to a degree course. You may wish to seek an apprenticeship or other training or employment in one of the many related sectors.

Link to Specification

"It is impossible for me to make a painting which has no reference to the powerful environment in which I live"

Peter Lanyon

Coast (1953) Peter Lanyon


The validity of Art in the curriculum stretches beyond practical skills with art based media. Art enhances fine motor skills, problem solving skills, lateral thinking, analysis and critical thinking skills. These are skills that can be applied to other subject areas and used in a variety of future careers.  In any career you have an advantage if you can arrange, present and display material to be aesthetically and visually appealing.

To find out more information about Creative industries in the UK, support available for current and further study from and the careers available within Art & Design follow the links below.