Exam Board: AQA

The A level Graphic Communication 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 start by developing their own briefs negotiated with teaching staff and then create work that starts with a foundation in drawing. Students then experiment and develop their ideas in a range of materials and techniques including painting, printmaking, 3-Dimensional options, photography, digital work including Photoshop and Illustrator.

The course also puts a high emphasis on student’s ability to analyse Graphic illustrators’ work 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 graphic communication and their ability to evaluate their own work.

Course Content

Personal Investigation

The Personal Investigation takes the form of two projects, these projects allow for personal choices with the emphasis on independent learning. Students must design their own briefs focusing on a project that allows them to explore a range of graphical outcomes that is thoughtfully discussed with the teaching staff. After designing a brief, students must develop and explore their themes creating a range of outcomes professionally.

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 starting points, 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 2-D paintings, printmaking, photography, textiles, multimedia pieces and digital work packaging, posters, magazine covers. Students will be expected to produce high quantity quality work during the course

The practical aspect of the course is complimented with a 3000-word essay that explores the students chosen practical brief 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 range of final pieces 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.

We run a range of workshops after schools for students to develop their ideas and receive extra mentoring from 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 the course using the exam board’s assessment objectives.


  • 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, digital work 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