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Art and Design: Fine Art A level at Sharnbrook Academy

Course description

Who is it for?

Students who enjoy working in a whole range of art materials and are interested in gaining depth of understanding in the visual arts. Students who wish to pursue further education in the arts or careers within the art industry.

Course content

Year one of the fine art A level acts as a foundation course with an emphasis on technical skills, alongside risk taking and creativity. We cover drawing, painting, printing skills, mixed media, and 3D skills. Alongside this, students complete a critical research of relevant artists, starting with their induction, which is embedded into coursework. The introduction of critical research at A level is about placing the students’ own ideas within a broader cultural and historical context, supporting the practical project themes.

By the end of Year one, students start preparations for their Personal Investigation of contextual and personal research. A short course of critical and contextual studies plus exhibitions visits aims to support the selection of specialisms and foci in Y13. Students begin in September, having completed an essay draft presenting the area of art they wish to follow. In consultation with staff, students are then expected to complete a practical series of art works that relate to their written investigation. The emphasis is very much on students’ ability to develop independence and make connections with critical and personal influences. What we pride ourselves on at Sharnbrook is the quality and variety in our students’ work.  This can be seen at the end of year show held in the sixth form gallery, where a private view evening, including food, drink and music, celebrates the Y13 achievements within a professional style exhibition.

Our department has excellent facilities including a computer suite, kilns with ceramic facilities and a purpose built gallery, which acts as the Y13 studio. The art rooms all have open access to all Y12 and Y13 students.

Entry requirements

All students must meet the minimum entry requirements which are:

  • a minimum of five GCSE passes at A* to C, plus mathematics and English language at level 4 or above.
  • ECDL or an equivalent IT course where studied. Please note that, where a student wishes to take at least one A level course and has level 2 BTEC qualifications, those level 2 BTEC qualifications can only count for up to a maximum of two of the required GCSE passes at A* to C, or mathematics and English language at level 4 or above.

In addition to the general entrance requirements, the department requires grade C or above for a visual art or design based subject OR, on an individual basis, an interview with art staff.


Year one is not assessed, but each project is internally marked to create a profile of student achievement. There may be opportunity for a mock exam in the summer term as a test of learning strengths, ready for selecting areas of study in Year two.

Year two is assessed in 2 parts;

Personal Investigation: students produce a portfolio of work that evolves from their own interests, critical influences and skills. It includes a 2000 - 3000 word illustrated essay and gallery notebook to support their coursework, worth 60%

Externally set task is 15 hours and worth 40% of the final grade

Financial information

Additional costs

  • Glue sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Set of drawing pencils
  • A5 gallery notebook
  • Set of acrylic paints
  • Trip(s) by train to London or other relevant exhibitions

Plus as the course goes on:

  • A1 sturdy portfolio (if intending to go to further art courses)
  • additional specialist materials such as oil pastels, oil paints, oil bars, range of brushes, canvases etc.

Future opportunities

The quality and professionalism of our students’ work is unquestionable and those students who wish to continue their art education are usually successful in their applications.  Many of our students go on to complete a Foundation Diploma in art and design prior to selecting a more specific degree.  Others have chosen to take direct entry on to degree courses such as architecture, graphics, illustration, theatrical and scenic painting, sculpture, photography or fine art. 

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Sharnbrook Academy directly.

Last updated date: 27 October 2017

Key information