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Illustration/Graphics A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

You will begin the AS course with range of varied and challenging workshops developing fundamental skills and knowledge integral to the world of Illustration and Design. Workshops are a mix of traditional and contemporary processes; these include experimental drawing and playful image making for students who wish to take the more traditional approach. Digital workshops offer all students access to develop skills in industry standard software including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Other aspects you will explore include typography, thumbnail sketches, layout design, mixed media, extending these further through digital media. You will research a range of illustrative and graphic styles, applying this knowledge to develop your individual practice.  

The research and development of your concepts and designs are gathered in your sketchbook. Documenting and constantly reflecting on your creative development, you will become skilled in communicating ideas visually, to meet your clients’ needs. By the end of the AS year you will have produced a body of coursework which documents your creative thinking and design process.

The A2 Illustration/Graphics course builds on your learning in the first year. There is one personally negotiated, more focused coursework project and one exam project. As well as building on your evolving visual identity, there is a small written element; this is supported by group presentations strengthening your analytical skills through both discussion and written work.

Towards the end of the A2 course you are given eight weeks lecture time to prepare for a 15 hour exam. The preparation time forms a personal project responding to a chosen exam theme; the 15 hour exam time is used to create a final piece which resolves this project.

Course content

Component 1: Personal Investigation Coursework (AS)

Internally Assessed

100% of AS Level

The Personal Creative Enquiry consists of an extended, exploratory project/portfolio and outcome/s based on themes and subject matter which are personal and meaningful to the learner. The Enquiry must integrate critical, practical and theoretical work.


Component 1: Personal Investigation (A2)

Internally Assessed

60% of A Level

The Personal Investigation consists of a major in-depth, practical, critical and theoretical investigative project/theme-based portfolio. Learners will be required to carry out an extended critical and contextual analysis (1000 word minimum requirement).

Component 2: Externally Set Assignment

Internally Assessed

40% of A Level

Learners will be required to independently develop a personal response to one of a varied range of stimuli. Learners will develop their response during a preparatory study period culminating in a 15 hour sustained focus study.

Entry requirements

  • The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C with a grade B or higher GCSE in an Art based course.
  • A keen interest in drawing to visualise thought, to help clients visualise what is proposed and indulge your creativity and imagination is absolutely necessary


The Art Department is friendly, supportive, ambitious and hardworking. Achievement in this subject relies heavily on your attendance, punctuality and commitment to learning, both independently and within lectures.

  • You will be encouraged to try a broad range of approaches, which you will then refine into ways of working which suit your individual interests, acquiring and developing specialist skills in your chosen discipline.
  • Independent work is fundamental to the course; at least 50% of all work assessed should have happened outside the classroom.
  • Homework is set weekly. Initially it is set by lecturers and will be tightly specified and closely linked to class workshops; it will be monitored regularly. As the course develops you will be required to set your own homework/independent work based on agreed learning needs.
  • Your ongoing work will be assessed in lessons through focused 1:1 discussion. Sketchbook work will be assessed regularly for reflective, thoughtful, analytical critical evaluation and annotation. Emphasis is upon the development towards a final piece, through observation and technical, aesthetic and conceptual refinement.
  • You will also be assessed against how your research of art, craft, design, media and technologies in contemporary and past societies and cultures improves your own understanding and practice.
  • Discussions and presentations are a vital part of our assessment process and you will be expected to contribute to these during your lessons.

Future opportunities

You can progress directly from A Level to an arts degree such as Graphic Design, Visual Communication, Illustration, Games Design and Multi-Media Design. Employment as a graphic designer is the clearest route but this course also offers a way into illustration or, with further study, animation; you could work for the media, an advertising company or design agency.

Further information

Independent practice will be supported through PowerPoints, worksheets and other guides available through our Moodle course. We also provide further support through focussed boards on Pinterest. College trips to visit museums and galleries will be offered and we encourage our students to visit galleries both locally and nationally to support their work.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

Key information