A-level Art and Design
Examination Board: AQA
Introduction and Structure
A-level in art and design provides versatility for individual student artists, from painters to photographers, graphic communicators to textile artists. The course is a two year A-level qualification comprising two components. Students who study art have a greater awareness of environmental, cultural and political issues. AQA describe this course as ‘demanding, rigorous empowering and inclusive!’ We agree!
Component 1 is a body of coursework driven and designed to be meaningful and of depth to student study. It 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 within one broad major theme.
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. Component 1 is worth up to a total of 60% of the whole qualification.
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).
Students must work within one of the following titles: art, craft and design, fine art, graphic communication, textile design, three-dimensional design, photography.
Externally Set Assignment
Component 2 is the culmination of the learning process within a preparation portfolio designed to drive the response for a timed exam at the end of the course. It incorporates two major elements: preparatory studies and the 15–hour period of sustained focus. The preparatory studies comprises a portfolio of practical and written development work based on the externally set assignment theme. During the 15–hour period of sustained focus under examination conditions, students will produce final outcome(s) extending from their preparatory studies in response to the externally set assignment. The externally set assignment is released on 1 February and contains a theme and suggested starting points. Students have from 1 February until the commencement of the final 15–hour period of sustained focus to develop preparatory studies. The 15–hour period of sustained focus under examination conditions may take place over multiple sessions
Both components require the successful application of the following criteria for assessment. Students will need to cover each objective as they individually account for 25% of the qualification as a whole.
AO1 develop ideas through sustained and focused investigations informed by contextual and other sources, demonstrating analytical and critical understanding.
AO2 explore and select appropriate resources, media, materials, techniques and processes, reviewing and refining ideas as work develops.
AO3 record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions, reflecting critically on work and progress.
AO4 present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and, where appropriate, makes connections between visual and other elements
Students will be given a mock exam in May of their first year of study, giving practical experience of the externally set assignment.
Careers and Progression
Students will gain experience of professionalism as they are required to display their A-level work in exhibition format. Visiting artists and visits to galleries provide extensive experience of the wider world of art and design.
Entry onto arts courses at university and other degree awarding bodies are generally through a combination of grade, portfolio of work and interview. Students will be encouraged to visit art departments and degree exhibitions to get a sense of the standard required for a higher level course. The creative industries in this country are the envy of the world, with graduates working in many fields in many countries.
Minimum requirement: 6 GCSEs Grades 9-4 (or equivalent), including Grade 4 or above in English and maths; Grade 5 or above in art.
In instances where students did not take GCSE art or a creative subject, clear and strong evidence in the form of recent sketch books, portfolio or similar may be considered as evidence of enthusiasm and commitment.