A Level Contemporary Fine Art


About this subject

The course aims to encourage an adventurous and enquiring approach to the subject within an understanding of past and contemporary fine art practice. Fine art requires engagement with aesthetic and intellectual concepts through the use of traditional and/or digital media for the purpose of self-expression, free of external constraints. It can be used to explore personal and cultural identity, society and how we live, visual language, and technology. It allows us to consider and reflect on our place in the world, both as individuals and collectively.

Fine Art is sub-divided into the following four disciplines which can become specialist pathways or students can move between specialisms:  painting and drawing (traditional, non traditional and digital)  printmaking,  sculpture (including installation work) lens-based image making (including animation, film & video).

Drawing forms an essential part of the development process from initial idea to finished work; from rough sketches, to diagrams setting out compositions, to digital drawings used for installations or as part of three-dimensional work. Students consider the application and implications of new and emerging technologies that can be used in conjunction with traditional and digital fine art materials.

Our approach is centred around an introductory period of the formal elements; giving students the opportunity to engage in a  range of media and processes at a more advanced and refined level. This knowledge enables our students to make informed decisions about areas they would like to pursue through self-directed projects in the second year of the course.

Students are supported and encouraged as independent learners, developing an artistic and personal professionalism towards their studies and possible future careers in the arts. The A level course also gives students the opportunity to see the world of the Arts as a vibrant part of their own community through projects as diverse as local murals, charity Christmas cards and posters for local societies. The course also has an integral careers programme with lectures from prominent University Arts courses, Careers Days, Portfolio preparation days and talks from  ex-students currently working in the Art & Design Industries.

Learning styles

The components require students to take a dynamic personal approach to project work through the development of a variety of skills. These include investigative, analytical, experimental, practical, technical and expressive skills, as well as aesthetic understanding and critical judgement.

Each piece of work builds upon the knowledge, understanding and skills gained from the last; this helps students’ work to progress naturally in complexity, maturity and individuality.
Students are guided through the course by a range of learning experiences:

  • one to one tutorials to review progress and set individual targets.
  • group presentations to discuss homework, research and approaches.
  • studio based skills sessions.
  • personal research and study.
  • gallery visits, lectures, slide and video presentations.

Subject Combinations and Progression

Fine Art is ideal for students who enjoy the subject as well as those who intend to make a career within the Arts; with future careers as diverse as Fine Art, Architecture, Museum curatorship, Art Direction, Art Therapy, Advertising, Animation, Games realization and Illustration.

Those students with a serious interest in the subject, may also take a specialist A Level in either Graphic Communication, Textile Design or Photography alongside this course. This considerably strengthens their portfolio of work for entry straight to degree.

Typically we send 70% of our A Level cohort to specialist Arts Degrees and Foundation courses at Universities including Central St Martins, London College of Fashion, Goldsmiths, Bath Spa, Falmouth and Edinburgh.

Subject Modules and Assessment

Component 1: Personal Investigation.

Self-initiated coursework consisting of preparation work,exploratory work and final pieces (60% of total qualification). This unit includes a 1000 word essay on a related artist/designer or theme.

Component 2: Externally Set Assignment.

Preparation period; full sketchbook and a 15-hour examination. (40% of total qualification).

Entry Requirements

Grade 4 or above in GCSE Art and Design is required for this course. (For exceptions see Head of Art for Portfolio submission).