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Art and Design (Graphic Communication) AS & A Level at Richard Taunton Sixth Form College

Course description

This course is designed to enable you to explore and develop your own contemporary responses to graphic design, using a variety of approaches and media. A Level Art & Design is one of the first qualifications to change to a two year A Level from September 2015. The majority of students will now follow a two year programme with their work being assessed in the second year. Marks are split equally between coursework (based on teacher-led themes) and a practical exam based on a theme set by the Edexcel exam board.

Course content

You will study 4 units over 2 years. Students will still have the option to sit a one-year AS Level if they are unsure about undertaking a two year programme. Whether you choose to take the AS Level or full A Level in Art and Design related subjects, you will need to work continuously throughout the course to develop the creative, analytical and written skills necessary to achieve in these subjects.

Further features of the new A Level:

  • There is a greater emphasis on drawing skills in all of the Art syllabuses
  • There is a greater emphasis on independent work
  • There is a written essay in the second year which is now a separate piece of work with specific marks awarded

Unit 1: Practical Coursework – Assessed by coursework

In this unit, you will be encouraged to investigate the formal elements and techniques of graphic communication including colour, line, form, pattern, tone and structure. These will be applied to advertising, illustration, packaging, typography and interactive media. You will learn to use graphic communication techniques to record observations, experiences, ideas, information and insights appropriate to your intentions. You will also need to analyse and critically evaluate graphic images showing an understanding of their meaning, purpose and context.

Unit 2: Externally Set Assignment - Assessed by preparatory work and an external timed exam

You will be given a theme from which you will develop your own personal response. There will be a preparatory period of approximately two months, in advance of an eight-hour examination period.

Unit 3: Practical Coursework – Assessed by coursework

This unit combines practical work and a personal study. You will identify your own area of practical work, undertake investigative research into theories and movements of Art and Design, and create visual solutions that illustrate the development of your skills and your own creative visual language. Your personal study will be in the form of a written, illustrated essay of 1,000 - 3,000 words, which will be relevantly linked to your practical coursework.

Unit 4: Externally Set Assignment - Assessed by preparatory work and an external timed exam

You will be given a title or theme from which you will develop your own personal response. There will be a preparatory period of approximately two months, in advance of a twelve-hour examination period

Entry requirements

  • At least five GCSEs at grade C or above, to include English Language and Art
  • A folder of observation drawing and experimental work in painting and mixed media


  • You will need good drawing skills and a sound level of creativity
  • You will need to be able to write fluently in your work journals and personal study.


Financial information

You will need to purchase a range of your own materials that you will look after, enabling you to do your own work at home to complete the course successfully. There will be a studio fee of £25 per year to cover the cost of materials, workbooks, specialist papers and colour printing.

Future opportunities

Our students progress onto a wide range of prestigious Arts universities nationwide, studying subjects such as Fine Art, Fashion and Textile Design, Photography, Animation and Graphic Design. After university, students gain employment as freelance artists, photographers, art critics and graphic designers.

Further information

Ideally you will bring a portfolio of work to your pre-enrolment interview to discuss with a member of the Art team, who will check whether the course is suitable for you.

You will be encouraged to express your own individual thoughts, feelings and ideas in visual form. You will work initially through the medium of drawing and painting, and will go on to develop and experiment with a range of media and techniques. You will need good observational drawing skills and a willingness to experiment with a wide range of materials and ideas. It it important to have enthusiasm and commitment for independent practical work, as well as being open to new and sometimes challenging ideas.

The course will be taught in practical, studio-based sessions with an emphasis on individual tuition within a group structure. You will have access to a comprehensive range of IT facilities for research and presentation, along with access to a comprehensive library of Art and Design books. You must develop the capacity for independent learning in your own time as an extension of the course.

Most other subjects combine well with Art and Design, but we recommend that you should avoid more than two AS Level Art and Design options in one year due to the heavy amount of coursework involved.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Richard Taunton Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 19 October 2016

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