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Art & Design A Level at King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls

Course description

  • Art encourages personal creativity and freedom to explore ideas.
  • Art teaches lateral thinking, problem solving, observational and analytical skills.
  • Art helps students understand the visual world within which we live in.
  • Art enables students to express ideas, thoughts and feelings
  • Art helps students analyse and interpret the wider context within which their work is placed.

There is strong evidence that Universities are becoming increasingly concerned that students are defined by an over dependency on their teachers and that outstanding examination results do not necessarily reflect an enquiring mind. The successful ‘A’ level Art and Design student must be a divergent thinker driven by a desire to be proactive and independent.

Course content

The emphasis of the course is to enable students to develop their technical skills in a range of disciplines whilst enhancing their knowledge and understanding of the context within which their emerging work is placed. Students initially focus on formal elements of the visual language experimenting and developing ideas through line, tone, colour, texture, composition and so on. This eventually leads to a thematic project which should focus on the students personal interests. The theme is set by the teaching staff and where possible students are encouraged to look at the wider social, historical, cultural and political context surrounding their work. Students embarking on the A level course should expect to be independent learners and follow much broader lines of enquiry making their own personal links between the work they produce and the world around them. A2 level students will build on the ideas and techniques developed at AS and produce work of greater depth. This coursework element is accompanied by a personal study consisting of between 1000 and 3000 words. The study focuses on links between work produced by the student and that of a range of other art practitioners.

Entry requirements

Students are expected to have attained a minimum of a grade A at GCSE. Students electing to take Art and Design A level should be hard working, determined,  self-motivated and good at managing their time. It is important to show a willingness to experiment and be analytical in your approach. Good drawing skills are a big advantage but technical ability is not the only key to success.


Examination Board: OCR
Specification: Advanced GCE H201 Fine Art

Initially students are taught to experiment with a variety of media, techniques and processes in order to improve technique and become familiarised with the wide range of disciplines available to them.

Once thematic links are introduced students are taught to develop their ideas and research relevant contextual information. Specific tasks are then set for each student based on the four assessment objectives from which their work will be assessed. Individual critiques take place once a term where each student makes a presentation of their work. This is an opportunity to share ideas and give positive feedback.

Site specific visits are encouraged and official gallery and museum visits form an integral part of the course. Students are taught to investigate the processes, techniques and ideas of other Art and Design practitioners which will inform the development of their own work. There is a strong emphasis on exhaustive exploration and analytical investigation. Students are provided with most of the materials they will need to undertake the course although the cost of gallery excursions and sketchbooks is not included. Students experiencing financial difficulties can apply to the school for assistance.

A Level

Unit 1

Personal Investigation

Students submit a practical portfolio of work based upon a starting point of their choosing. They will also complete a related written study of 1000-3000 words.

September - January, Year 13

120 marks, 60% of A level

Unit 2

Externally set assignment

Students will select a starting point from a range of topics provided by OCR. Students will produce preparatory studies based around this topic then produce an outcome within 15 hours of controlled time.

January - May, Year 13

80 marks, 40% of A level

Future opportunities

There are diverse and varied careers to be found in the following areas:

  • Advertising
  • Product design
  • Interior design
  • Graphic design
  • Architecture Web page design
  • Jewellery Conservation
  • Media
  • Theatre design
  • Fashion design
  • Photography
  • Gallery curatorship
  • Teaching

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls directly.

Last updated date: 31 October 2017
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