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Art and Design - Fine Art A Level at The Judd School

Course description

Why choose this subject?

The A Level Art & Design: Fine Art course is designed to stretch students’ imaginative and intellectual capabilities and to foster an interest in, enthusiasm for and enjoyment of art, craft and design. Students develop investigative, practical and expressive skills, working in a broad range of media on independent projects. Throughout the A level course, they increase their knowledge and understanding of art practices in contemporary and past societies and cultures, referencing contextual sources to inform the development of their own ideas.

A Level Art & Design is a key subject choice for those wishing to study the visual arts and many design-related courses at degree level. The A Level course also compliments a range of subject combinations, providing a means for students to develop essential transferable skills including creativity, analytical thinking and practical problem solving abilities. The most important reason for students to choose Art & Design at A Level, however, is that they enjoy the subject.

Why study it at The Judd School?

Excellent facilities are available for painting and drawing, printmaking, sculpture and lens-based digital image making. Students will receive initial introductions to a range of specialist media, techniques and processes which extend beyond those that they might have experienced at GCSE. Students may then choose to explore and refine their expertise in either 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional work, with subject specialists on hand to offer one-to-one support with the development of their ideas to an ambitious conclusion for the final exhibition at the end of the A level course.

Many students from our A Level course have chosen to go on to art and design or architecture courses. Help is given with arranging a portfolio for interview, together with information and guidance on colleges and universities. Former Judd A Level Art students have gone on to study Art & Design, Architecture or other creative courses at the following Art Colleges and Universities: University of the Arts, London – Chelsea and Central St. Martin’s Colleges of Art; The Slade School of Fine Art (UCL); Glasgow School of Art; University of Bath; Edinburgh University; University College for the Creative Arts; Ravensbourne College of Design; Brighton College of Art; Falmouth College of Art; Nottingham University; Oxford Brookes University.

Course content

Course details: Board and Specification: Edexcel 9AD0, Pathway: Fine Art (9FA0)

What you will be learning (course outline):

It is expected that all students will follow the 2 year A Level course, comprising of a coursework unit (Personal Investigation) worth 60% of the qualification, and an Externally Set Assignment set by the Edexcel exam board, worth 40% of the total A Level.

During the 2 year A Level course, students will put together an extensive portfolio of artwork in response to self-initiated themes, as well as themes set by the Edexcel exam board. In the first term of the course, all students receive practical workshop inductions into a range of media and processes including drawing, painting, sculpture and digital photography. Students are expected and encouraged to explore a broad range of materials and techniques, building a portfolio of experimental work and outcomes based on ideas developed from a self-initiated starting point. Students will then refine their expertise in the direction of their choice, with teachers offering individual support, enabling students to realise their intentions in exhibition-worthy final outcomes.

Drawing is a core activity for all students; students are encouraged to experiment with a range of approaches to drawing, using sketchbooks and other formats for supporting studies as a means of recording and developing ideas. Opportunities to attend life drawing classes are offered throughout the A level course. Expressive and technical approaches to drawing from observation are explored in these sessions.

Critical and contextual studies is an important part of the development process. Students are expected to engage with the work of other artists, craftspeople and designers in an analytical way. Group discussions and essay-style tasks will be undertaken to elicit higher-level academic critique of the work of other artists. Students will be expected to take an active interest in past and contemporary art & design, visiting galleries and museums on their own initiative in order to inspire and inform their own work. Students are also encouraged to respond to contextual sources drawn from other areas of the curriculum, engaging with emerging personal interests in, for example, literature, history, politics, current affairs, philosophy, the sciences, or indeed any other relevant source of inspiration.

Unit 1: Personal Investigation (60% of A Level Grade)

The course begins with a series of skills-based inductions into a range of advanced techniques and processes. Following the initial exploratory stage, students begin discussions with teachers, developing an idea for their Personal Investigation; the coursework project that must be sustained and completed between January 2016 and January 2017. There are 3 elements to the Personal Investigation. It must comprise of supporting studies (sketchbooks or equivalent), practical outcomes (development work and final pieces) and a written personal study. The documentation of the practical and theoretical exploration of ideas is an essential part of the course. Sketchbooks and/or mounted presentation display sheets will be used for drawings and studies from observation, the development of ideas, experimental work and critical studies.

The personal study is a 1000 word (minimum) illustrated essay which is integral to the development of practical work, and is worth 18 out of a total of 90 coursework marks. The research topic and focus of discussion are developed by the student. The final essay must demonstrate critical written communication showing contextual research and understanding of artists’ work, with integrated images. Support and guidance will be offered throughout the research and essay writing process.

Unit 2: Externally Set Assignment (40% of A Level Grade)

A paper containing an externally set theme and suggested starting points is released on January 1st 2017. Students develop a portfolio of practical and written work in preparation for the final piece, which is completed in a 15 hour period of sustained focus conducted under examination conditions in the Summer Term of 2017. The sketchbook and development work are assessed alongside the final exam piece, much like the current GCSE course.


Entry requirements

The normal entry requirement is an A at GCSE Art. Some students who have not taken GCSE Art may be accepted on the basis of a strong portfolio of work.

65 points are required for entry to Judd Sixth Form together with a minimum grade 5 in both English Language and Mathematics.

The highest 10 GCSE results are awarded points according to the following scale:

Old GCSE  -  A* = 9, A = 7, B = 6, C = 5, D or lower = 0

New GCSE (English and Maths)  -  9 = 9 points, 8 = 8 points etc. but 3 and below = 0 points.


How it will be assessed:

The coursework and exam projects are assessed holistically against the exam board’s 4 assessment objectives (develop, refine, record and realise). The final assessment of all work is made in June 2017 (year 2) when all A Level students exhibit their coursework and exam pieces. An external moderator from Edexcel visits the school to mark the work. 

Moderator’s comments (June 2016):

“[Work was] in many cases highly ambitious in concept and scale. Imaginative, exciting and original outcomes included complex sculptural structures and thoughtful fine art pieces.”

“Some very creative and personal experimentation was evident in a wide range of media and processes including animation, sculpture, painting and drawing.”

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Judd School directly.

Last updated date: 10 October 2016
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Course code: Edexcel 9AD0, Pathway: Fine Art (9FA0)