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This course will provide you with a broad introduction to traditional art-based and digital design processes. You will learn about the historical and contemporary influences within the design industry.

You will be set themed assignments and live briefs to help you build a creative and professional portfolio of illustration and graphic design.

You will be taught within our purpose-built Design Studio, which is fitted with state-of-the-art Apple Macs with industry standard software. You will have the opportunity to visit national and international places of interest for research purposes.

View our Visual Arts Showcase 2020.


Year 1

In your first year you will develop your skills. There are seven to eight different assignments that cover all the techniques and processes needed to succeed in your second year. You will learn; how to develop ideas and concepts in response to given briefs and themes, how to gather relevant research to guide and inform your project and how to use industry-standard software and traditional design processes to develop, refine and achieve outcomes of professional standard and quality.

Year 2

In your second year you will begin to specialise through two modules.

Module 1 Personal Investigation (60% of overall mark): This is a practical project you will set yourself. Although guided and supported by your Teacher throughout and informed by the experience gained during Year 1 of the course, you will decide and determine which direction you want to take your major second year project in. This coursework only project contains a written component, which is equivalent to an academic essay.

Module 2 Externally Set Assignment (40% of overall mark): The awarding body (OCR) will provide a set of seven exam themes, from which you will choose one to respond to. This practical, coursework based unit is approximately nine weeks long and concludes in a 15 hours long exam.

You will need (or equivalent to);

  • GCSE Mathematics grade 4/C or above
  • GCSE English Language or Literature grade 4/C or above
  • plus three more GCSEs grade 4/C or above

It is recommended (within the above) you have:

  • a GCSE grade 5 in a creative subject but it is not essential.

With the exception of a 15 hour exam, which concludes your second year, all work is practical and coursework based. All work is assessed once projects have been submitted for the given deadline, with constructive and detailed feedback being provided to assist with the improvement of coursework and the further refinement of skills.

Students have gone onto university to study a range of creative subjects, including Graphic Design, Visual Communication, Illustration, Fine Art, Media, Marketing, Animation, Photography, Web Design, Product Design, Interior Design and Architecture. Others have chosen Foundation courses in Art or a National Diploma in a design subject. Alternatively many pursue Apprenticeships in the creative industries.


Are there many opportunities in the creative industries?

The Creative Industries have moved into first place to be the fastest-growing economic sector in the UK, responsible for 5.6% of jobs, and worth £76.9bn to the UK industry. Organisations now pay great attention to their visual profiles, what product or service doesn’t use an image in some way? There are many careers in which Graphic Design A Level will be of benefit to you and your result will be valued by universities.

“Graphic Design was a completely new subject to me, so I was unsure of what to expect. After one taster session I immediately decided to switch to this A Level and I absolutely have no regrets! As a creative subject it is incredible. Over the duration of the course, you learn a wide range of valuable technical and design skills, learn from work of other designers, and have the freedom to develop work in your own way. This could be (and is not limited to) the creation of a new brand identity, illustrations, advertising campaigns, magazines, album art or even animation! As the subject is so broad, what you learn is very applicable whilst at college and in the future. I have really enjoyed both my first and second year of Graphic Design – I will miss it!”

“I chose Graphic Design as I thought it would be a nice contrast to my other subjects which were more academic. I have learnt a lot about using Adobe Software which is a useful skill to have. I also have learnt a lot about different art movements throughout time which I found interesting. I would recommend Graphic Design to prospective students as it is a good creative outlet and can contrast other subjects nicely. The course is very engaging and practical. It’s great for beginners in graphic design who haven’t used any of the Adobe software before as everything is explained to you clearly. You get to use a range of different software that help you create anything form poster designs to animations. Overall, I think it is a good course that allows students to be creative and introduces them to graphic design in a practical way”.

“From having an interest in designing things all the time as a kid and through my school years, studying Graphic Design is an awesome opportunity to turn a fun hobby or interest into genuine and career-opening skills using your creative mind and getting to grips with real professional software. Being able to establish and evolve my own illustration style using Adobe Illustrator has been a great experience, I would highly recommend the course to anyone who feels they want to develop their skills and best of all scratch that creative itch. For me, this course has allowed me to prepare for a university course in Digital Marketing, giving me totally invaluable knowledge and ability to find and understand a career field I am genuinely invested in”.