Exam Board: AQA

The A level Art course consists of two parts; a Personal investigation and an Externally Set assignment.


The course emphasises the importance of personal choice and independent study. Students will negotiate their themes with teaching staff and then create work that starts with a foundation in drawing, Student’s then demonstrate ability to experiment and develop their ideas in a range of materials and techniques including painting, printmaking, photography, digital work and 3-Dimensional

The course also puts a high emphasis on student’s ability to analyse artist and contextual references that link to their work. This includes a 3000-word essay that will be developed in conjunction with their second project. Students must also be able to analyse their own work showing links to artists and a deep and firm understanding of the wider issues in their work.

Students are expected to create a range of high-quality final pieces that demonstrates their knowledge and understanding of Fine Art and their ability to evaluate their own work.

Course Content

Personal Investigation

The Personal Investigation takes the form of two projects. Students are allowed to independently decide on their personal themes for each project with support from the teaching staff. There is no restriction on the paths that may be followed as long as the syllabus objectives are addressed as part of the process.

Students must show development of ideas: this includes an ability to research a range of artists work, analysing their processes and using the knowledge gained to influence and inspire their own work. Students must also have the ability to experiment with a range of ideas and materials that are appropriate to their chosen theme, reviewing and refining their work purposefully. Students must have a strong ability to record their ideas and reflect critically on their work and progress. Finally, they must have the ability to create a personal and imaginative final realisation that makes connections between their work and others.

Student’s practical outcomes can take the form of a range of final realisations that can include paintings, sculptures, printmaking, photography, textiles, multimedia pieces and digital work. Students will be expected to produce high quantity and quality work during the course

The practical aspect of the course is complimented with a 3000-word essay that explores the student’s chosen practical themes from an analytical viewpoint. Students will be expected to devise a title for the essay based on their second project. From this point, they must complete in-depth research on their topic and then write an essay that shows their understanding of the artists and the themes from their research.

Externally Set Assignment

The Externally Set Assignment is a response to topics given by the Examining Board. The papers are issued in early February and students have until mid- May to finalise their responses.

During this preparatory period students are to complete a range of investigations and developments including experimentations with ideas and materials, exploration into artist and contextual studies, good quality recording from observation and critical analysis of their own work. This should allow students to produce a high quantity of preparatory work while at the same time developing the quality of their work. These studies should help the students devise a final piece for the exam.

Students must then complete a 15-hour examination final piece under examination conditions. At the end of the exam all work must be submitted for final assessment.

Enrichment Opportunities

There will be organised trips to London to visit galleries and collect resources for their projects.

There will be various after-school workshops to help students develop their ideas and receive extra mentoring with art staff

Students will also be expected to investigate galleries independently in their free time to further their projects and gain better understanding of artists work.


There will be continual assessment throughout course using the exam boards’ assessment objectives. These are:


  • AO1 – Develop – This assesses how students have developed their ideas and themes, students need to learn to show how they have moved from idea to idea but also why and how their ideas have developed in the ways they have. This is reinforced with analysis of other artists work
  • AO2 – Experiment – Students must show they have explored and experimented with materials, techniques and ideas. They must demonstrate they have fully experimented with their ideas and made enquiries into all possibilities showing a good understanding of their theme.
  • AO3- Record – This assesses the drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpting the students undertake, as well as the analysis of their work
  • AO4- Present – This is the final pieces they create, the evaluations they make and the connections they make with other artists.

Each assessment objective is worth 25% of the final mark.