Exam Board: AQA

Coursework – 60%

Exam – 40%

Course Description 

Art and Design A-level students complete AQA Art and Design A-level. This comprises of two units of work: Coursework which is broken into several individual topics together making up 60% of the final grade and the Exam unit worth 40% of the final grade.

The students are required to write an Extended Contextual Essay of between 1000-3000 words as part of the coursework unit which discusses the influences and critical understanding of photographers they have studied during their independent projects.

Art and Design is a popular A-Level choice which is respected by all universities because it gives you the knowledge and skills necessary for higher education and which are also useful in any career. Students who specialise in Art and Design can go onto career paths like Architecture, Engineering, Graphic Design, Illustration and Animation.

Throughout the A Level course, students are guided through 1 set topic of exploration to enhance their skill set as they progress to their final personal projects.

Topic 1 progresses to the theme of Identity – the student is required to reflect upon their personal / cultural backgrounds, documenting with primary source imagery. Research is completed on world renowned portrait artists to enlighten the artistic approach taken by the student in interpreting their own large scale portrait outcomes.

Topic 2 provides a freehand to the student within a theme of their choice in producing their Final Outcome. The student is required to explore beyond traditional forms of influence to produce a unique outcome

Students continue to develop their personal projects after this and are given freedom to choose their own topic ideas and starting points. This project is split into 2 parts and must be completed by the end of January in Year 13 when coursework finishes and the exam unit begins.


The A Level exam is 15 hours long and is spread over 3 days. Students are required to prepare a project of development work prior to the examination day and then produce final pieces in the exam. Papers are issued to students on the 1st February in Year 13 and students are given a 6 week preparatory period before the examination.

Specification link

Congratulations to all A Level students

88% A*-C

Best of luck in your future pursuits and well done on all the hard work

What do I need to know or be able to do before taking this course?

Students choosing this course should be able to develop ideas visually and show commitment and energy. You should be able to meet deadlines for coursework and be able to organise and present your ideas in work journals. A passion for Art and Design is essential. In addition to the organised trips students are required to attend galleries.

Who is suitable for this course?
This course is suitable for students who are:

• keen to develop their visual skills
• creative, enthusiastic and imaginative
• able to sustain an investigation
• able to enjoy visits to galleries, museums, workshops and studios
• willing to experiment and take risks in their work
• willing to review their progress and make improvements

What could I do with a qualification in this subject?

There are a large selection of Art based careers ,including Graphics, Fashion, Illustration, Textiles, Theatre Design, Interior Design, as well as Ceramics and Painting. It is also useful for a career in Architecture or Art History.

The three most commonly asked questions about this course are:

How much work is involved?
You will need to produce a coursework folder together with final pieces for each unit. Coursework requires the writing of an essay 2,000-3,000 words.

What type of work will we be able to do? 
The range of material within Fine Art is quite broad and includes painting, printing, sculpture, digital photography and related software, drawing, and mixed media.

How much independent work is expected? 

The course gradually increases the level of independence expected from a student. You will always be supported and guided. A high degree of independence is required in Unit 3 and 4, which assesses your ability to use the learning, gained over the two years of the course.

  • Animator
  • Architect
  • Architectural technician.
  • Architectural technologist.
  • Art editor
  • Advertising art director
  • Illustrator
  • Photographer
  • Animator
  • Graphic designer
  • Teacher/university lecturer
  • Product designer
  • Textile designer
  • Creative Producer
  • Interior Design
  • Theatre Design