Graphic Design


Graphic Design is a subject that teaches students to create visual content that communicates ideas and messages using both traditional techniques and modern technology. It is a stimulating and wide-ranging subject that develops the ability to appreciate the commercial visual world and to respond through various forms of creative, personal design. Students learn to use a range of graphic techniques including print, sketching, illustration and photography, as well as digital design in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Graphic Design is a chiefly practical course with some written elements. First year projects include book cover design, branding, packaging design and typographical work. In the second year, students can choose their own projects which can include such briefs as branding for festivals, marketing for new food or clothing companies and exhibition displays. Students have the freedom to approach projects in a variety of ways depending on their interests and skills. For example, when designing a poster, one student may want to develop their designs using computer software such as Photoshop, another may however wish to further their skills in hand drawn illustration. Both are equally valid.

The Graphic Design area is well resourced with a large number of computers using the latest industry standard software along with professional equipment and machines, which allow students to produce work to an incredibly high standard. There are several rooms and facilities that students are encouraged to make use of both in lessons and during their own time.

Graphic Design combines well with any other subject at the College including one or more subjects within the Art and Design Department.

Developing your skills by looking at the work of professional designers and artists is an important part of any designer’s experience. We organise a trip in the summer term to a major annual design exhibition. Also, as part of the Art and Design Department, students have opportunities to participate in a residential trip in the second year.


The first year of the A Level is a foundation course during which you will be learning a wide range of techniques, looking at the work of other graphic designers and building up your skills and understanding of contemporary graphic design. The projects in the first year will enable you to become familiar with the A Level assessment criteria and give you a good idea of the standard of preparation required in order to produce sophisticated final outcomes in Year 2.

The Year 2 Graphics course consists of two components – Coursework and Exam project. All of this work will count towards you’re a Level. The coursework consists of one major project, which you will choose yourself. There is also a compulsory short written element. The exam project brief is set by the exam board and culminates in a 15-hour practical exam.



Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.


Coursework starts in June of the first year and continues until the end of January. From the 1st February you will start your exam project. In May, at the end of the exam preparation, you will be completing a final piece during a 15-hour exam – spread over 3 days. The coursework is worth 60% of your A Level mark and the exam project is 40%.


Standard College entry requirements and a minimum of:

Grade required Subject required

Grade 4

GCSE Art & Design or GCSE Graphics (Art Validated), or GCSE Textiles (Art Validated)



BTEC Art & Design Level 2 


Grade 5

GCSE Design & Technology (if taken)

For those who have not previously studied a GCSE in Art and Design or Textiles (Art Validated) or Graphics (Art Validated), or a Level 2 BTEC course, it is possible to be considered for this A Level Graphic Design course. You will need to complete an exercise set by the Art and Design Department. Details can be requested by emailing the College Admissions Department, once you have had your interview. Please email the task to the Admissions Department by 31st May.  It is not college policy to enrol on three Art & Design A levels except in very exceptional cases.



Studying Graphics can lead to many careers in the creative industries. Possible careers include: graphic design, illustration, architecture, product design, web design, games design, automotive design, fashion and textiles, industrial design, marketing, teaching and animation. Most universities offer courses in one or more of these subjects. If you are not sure about which design based degree course to do at university you can also opt for a one-year foundation diploma (for example at Colchester Institute) after your A Levels. This course will help you choose your pathway at degree level. Many of our students progress on to either foundation diplomas or design degree courses across the country.


Graphics students must purchase a graphics pack for each year of the course, which covers essential items including sketchbooks, designer’s pens and pencils.  The pack also helps fund professional printing and materials for 3D mock-ups used in coursework and exams. The expected cost for the packs is £30 in the first year and £40 in the second year.