The Art and Design Department at the Sixth Form incorporates Fine Art, Photography, Art History, Textiles, Graphic Design, Product Design and Sculpture. It is one of the biggest providers of A Level Fine Art, Photography, and Art History in the country and the Art History subject has regularly received awards for its outstanding results. The department offers a lively and engaging environment for students to develop their skills and an understanding of contemporary art issues. Each year many of our students go on to a Foundation Diploma or a Visual Art Degree course.

Courses Offered by the Department

AS and A Level Fine Art (AQA)

The AS course aims to give students the confidence to explore different ways of working. We help everyone, through experimentation and supportive tuition, refine and develop a technique which will allow them to independently express their visual ideas. The course has two components, a coursework component and an exam component. The coursework component which is worth 60% of the final mark runs from September until the end of January. This is then followed by the exam component which is worth 40% of the final mark. Both components are totally practical and students are supported in their learning through expert tuition, gallery visits and exposure to the work of other artists.

Component 1 is carefully structured in order to introduce students to new techniques and approaches which will enable them to explore their own ideas. Component 2 is the externally set assignment, set by the exam board AQA. In this component students will develop their skills and understanding of other artists’ work in order to create a project of work in response to one of the exam questions.

Teaching is varied and intense with group work, tutorials, workshops and projects. Much individual help and support is provided.

AS and A Level Photography (AQA)

This Photography course is a challenging subject where both creative and technical ability will be important. You will learn how to see with a camera and express your ideas through the photographic medium. The course is mostly practical but you will also document your progress and research in a work journal. A background in Art is very important. Various genres of photography will be studied, including portrait, still-life, landscape and documentary. Traditional black and white, as well as digital imaging will be covered. Enthusiasm and commitment are essential.

There is one practical coursework component plus the examination component. The course combines practical creation of your own black and white images with critical studies of the work of photographers throughout the past century. There will be theory sessions as well as practical workshops, plus several visits to exhibitions. You will be working quite independently after the initial induction period, using the classroom and the two darkrooms.

AS and A Level Art History (Welsh Board - Eduqas)

This is a subject that combines visual awareness, independent study and essay writing skills. Students do not need to be good at drawing and painting to do the course, but they will need to illustrate their work creatively. The Art History course combines particularly well with Art, History, English and Modern Languages, but would attract anyone who is interested in learning more about the Visual Arts. We place the emphasis on first-hand experience of works of art and have a lively programme of gallery and museum visits and workshops. The course is taught and assessed through the submission of coursework rather than through a written exam.

Additional Studies

The department also offers the following Additional Studies courses:


This course is aimed at those with some experience of working in clay who wish to extend their skills and perhaps develop ideas in this medium and at complete beginners with very little experience who wish to be shown the basic forming and decorative methods. Both groups will cover the basic pottery techniques of modelling, slab building and coiling as well as having an opportunity to use the wheel. Those with some experience can work more independently if they prefer.

Drawing and Painting the Figure

This provides an opportunity for students of all abilities to explore a variety of drawing and painting techniques. The emphasis is on a loose approach to media, working on short activities as well as producing longer pieces.

Pre-Foundation Art

2nd year Visual Arts students (Art, Photography, History of Art), who wish to follow a career in an art related area after A level, will be given guidance and advice about applications to Art Foundation and degree courses through UCAS, personal statements, preparation of a portfolio, unusual projects, discussions, outside speakers, gallery visits etc. Students of Graphics or Textiles who are interested in an ‘Art school’ route to Higher Education may wish to attend.

Please see the Course Details box on this page for links to downloadable subject information sheets.

Some FAQs

Q: How will I be assessed?

A: Please inspect the chart below.

Component 1 Component 2
AS Fine Art Coursework practical project 60% of total AS marks Controlled Assignment project 40% of total AS marks
AS Photography Coursework practical project 60% of total AS marks Controlled Assignment project 40% of total AS marks
AS Art History Externally Set Task. 100% of AS marks. Not applicable
Q: How much homework will I have?

A: The college guidelines suggest that you should be completing at least three hours of homework per week per subject. In the Art and Design Department students are required depending on the subject some practical work, reflective reading or write essays. Rather than count the minutes, the important thing is to do the homework set as fully as possible. Homework is coursework and therefore an extension of the work done in class – it is an essential part of the AS course.

Q: What careers are open to me in the Visual Arts

A: Navigate to the UCAS website and do a search for the number and variety of courses available within Art, Photography and Art History. A Fine Art or Photography A level is the accepted route, usually followed by a one-year Foundation course, to specialist degree courses in different Art & Design practices and there are a growing number of courses to choose from. There are also many combined or modular degrees in which art and design are components.

Q: Can I combine Art courses?

A: Yes you can combine courses and Art History complements a practical art subject. However you will need to consider the breadth of your course choice at college and relate that to your future career or university plan.