Christian Head, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, CA17 4HA

017683 71693

Kirkby Stephen Grammar School

A Co-operative Academy

A Level Art & Design / Fine Art


The Art A-Level is a practical course with the combined academic rigour of a written element.

What is A-Level Art like at KSGS

On the A-Level Art course students work at a fast and lively pace, experiencing a number of media and developing their technical abilities as well as a critical awareness of various artists to help develop their ideas. Students work on their own chosen theme and interest area, in their own personal studio space in the 6th Form Art studio. The course is based around hard work, enthusiasm and the drive of personal investigation and independent study. Students work in a productive but relaxed atmosphere, working alongside the teacher who supports and advises the student on lines of enquiry for their particular theme and assists with technical demonstrations of media as required. Final results range from sculptures and decorative textiles to large canvases.  

An exhibition of all work takes place at the end of the two years.

Type of course

The exam board followed is AQA. Students may opt for either Fine Art or Art and Design.

A-Level (2 year course)

How you are guided through the course

At A-Level teaching is very much based on individual discussion about the students work and progress and ideas. These are discussed with the student regularly to assist them on their “journey” with their personal investigation.

Component 1 - Personal investigation (Year 12 & First Term of Year 13)

Following an initial introduction to develop skills and techniques students produce a practical unit of work based on developing an idea/theme/issue/concept of personal choice supported by a written element (between 1000—3000 words), practical work must lead to a finished outcome or series of related finished outcomes. Students must identify the focus of their investigation independently and need to show preparatory work, research and development of ideas as well as final piece/s.

The written element can take a variety of forms and is in support of the investigations showing independent research and analysis of artists work linked to the project theme and how it influences their work.

Component 2 - Externally set assignment (Feb 1st to Mid-April in Year 13)

Students select one from a range of externally set starting points. Students produce preparatory work, research and development of ideas ending with a 15 hour exam where they produce their final outcome/piece or pieces. 

After completion of Component 2, you and your teacher will put up an exhibition of your work to be moderated. - the deadline for work to be exhibited is 1st May.

Entry requirement

To take A-Level Art students need to have a Grade 6 or above in GCSE Art. They will need a good English Language GCSE Grade. Enthusiasm, drive and commitment are essential as is the ability to do independent study and research. Good observational skills are also essential.

How is your work assessed?

The 2 components at A-Levek are marked seperately using 4 assessment objectives, seen on the grid below. Each unit is marked as a whole.

A visiting moderator will moderate the work.

AO1 Develop their ideas through sustained and focused investigations informed by contextual and other sources, demonstrating analytical and critical understanding.
AO2 Experiment with and select appropriate resources, media, materials, techniques and processes, reviewing and refining their ideas as their work develops.
AO3 Record ideas, observations and insights relevent to intentions, reflecting critically on work and progress.
AO4 Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and, where appropriate, makes connections between visual and other elements.

Weighting of units

Unit Title of Unit % of A-Level Mark
1 Personal Invesitgation 60
Externally set assignment 40

Comments by past students about A-Level Art 

‘Having my own space is great, I like the individual way of working and the freedom to experiment’

‘A-Level art is hard work but different from other subjects’

‘Free to explore new techniques in a relaxed atmosphere’

‘You are given the freedom to work independently but are also given support and help when needed’

Why study Art at A-Level?

Art and Design allows for the development of creativity and artistic expression, whilst also having the rigour of the written element.

Art and Design is vital in today’s world where aesthetics are as equally important as function. Art is everywhere and is extremely useful for a great many careers where problem solving, team work, manual dexterity and understanding of aesthetics are important.

Careers where A-Level Art would be useful

There are numerous career choices where an Art A-Level would be useful, to list a few:

  • Product Design
  • Graphic design
  • Architect
  • Primary School Teacher
  • Art Teacher/lecturer
  • Fashion designer
  • Set designer
  • Illustrator 
  • Career in Computer Graphics/Game Design    
  • Cartoonist   
  • Retail     
  • Special effect  
  • Theatre work    
  • Freelance artist      
  • Design for industry    
  • Gallery Curator    
  • Interior designer     
  • Photographer Advertising   
  • Marketing     
  • Media and publishing       
  • Web design