Art and Design
A level

Aim of the course 

Art and design develops and broadens students practical skills and their command of creative visual language. Students learn to reflect purposefully on what they have created and understand how their work relates to the broader world of art and design through independent research, gallery visits, group discussion and written critical analysis. 

Students work in a dedicated studio with their own workspaces which are always accessible when the school is open. 

Course outline  

In the Lower Sixth, students refine their practical skills by investigating the processes artists go through, developing their ideas around the broad theme of ‘the body.’ Studies in oil painting, life drawing, etching, silkscreen and various 3D ceramic and casting techniques are developed as students identify their strengths in visual communication. 

Work undertaken in the Lower Sixth can contribute to the Personal Investigation which is assessed at the end of the Upper Sixth. 

Students also undertake contextual research in the form of a written personal study with a guided minimum of 1,000 words. This enables students to communicate their knowledge and understanding of art historical movements, genres, practitioners, and artworks whilst also providing evidence of their independent interests for progression to university.

The Upper Sixth course has two units and develops from students independent research undertaken during the Lower Sixth course, mirroring the structure of the GCSE. 

The end of each year concludes with an exhibition, where all students present their work to celebrate their achievements. 

Be inspired  

We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. Students are encouraged to delve into into A History of Art Without Men by Katie Hessel, Ways of Seeing by John Berger, The Story of Art by EH Gombrich, Hall’s Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art and A World History of Art by Hugh Honour and John Fleming. For more practical ideas Austin Kleon’s Steal like an Artist and Bob & Roberta Smith’s You are an Artist contain much good advice and ideas for starting points and developing creative approaches. 

The art department runs societies and competitions such as the Articulation Prize Articulation Prize | Articulation | National Gallery, London, giving students many opportunities to create art or to discuss the creative arts and develop their public speaking skills.

We run a dedicated after-school Sixth Form life drawing session each week, during the Michaelmas term, where students learn the academic method of figure drawing, focusing on tone, perspective, and proportion. 

Art students participate in a range of residential and day trips, both in the UK and abroad, most recently to St Ives, Cornwall.  .  

Assessment details  

Personal Investigation (60% of the A level mark) 

This portfolio consists of a sustained project, theme or course of study. It is presented in appropriate formats for the specialism and area of study chosen using, for example, sketchbooks, mounted sheets, maquettes, prototypes or illustrated written work. 

Controlled Assignment (40% of the A level mark) 

Students are given an early-release exam paper with a broad starting theme by the exam board on 1st February. After developing initial ideas, students work independently developing, experimenting, and refining their ideas under the advice of their teachers. At the end of this period, they undertake a 15-hour practical exam where they make their planned artwork. 

Examining board  



Designed by Svelte Design | Built by Highrise Digital