Art & Design


GCSE Art allows you to express yourself creatively in a visual way, through the use of drawing, painting, printing, textile and photographic/digital materials. You are given themes as starting points for your work that you are expected to research and investigate, developing your own personal ideas that express your own thoughts and opinions about the world around you.


What will it be like?

Initially you will spend some time developing your skills and learning about how to meet the subject assessment objectives to a high standard. You will need to research and investigate themes by doing drawing, painting and photographic work based on items and imagery related to your project topic. You will also need to investigate the work of other artists and designers to help you develop your own creative processes and produce personal ideas for your own original artwork.

As you do all of these things you will also be expected to develop a variety of skills, such as,

  • The ability to develop ideas through investigations informed by research into the work of others.
  • The ability to refine your ideas through experimentation and selecting appropriate materials, techniques and processes.
  • The ability to record your ideas, observations and experiences in visual and other forms that are relevant to your intentions.
  • The ability to create a personal, meaningful, informed and resolved response to a starting point that makes connections between different elements of the research and preparatory work.

All students are expected to develop their drawing skills as they progress through the course but in addition to this, the specific practical skills that you develop the most will depend on how you end up tackling the course. Whether you intend to try a little of everything as you produce your project work or concentrate on a more specific area such as working with 3D materials because that is what you particularly enjoy or are best at.


The assessment of the course is divided into two distinct components, the Portfolio of Work and the Externally Set Task (Exam).

The Portfolio of work is selected from the project work that you do throughout the course. This comprises of two separate units or projects. A project should consist of the research and investigation work (preparation), done in sketchbooks or on study sheets and a project final piece or outcome. The Portfolio of work is displayed for final assessment at the end of the course; this accounts for 60% of your eventual grade.

The Externally Set Task is like a further Coursework project but this time the theme is set by the examining board (AQA) and it has to be completed within a strict time period (like any other type of exam). Once the starting point has been given to students, they are allowed a period of preparation time to research and investigate the topic, producing studies, investigating the work of related artists and creating ideas for possible development. The student then has to undertake a 10 hour period of sustained and focussed study (broken into shorter blocks of time). This work is then assessed at the same time as the portfolio work but is marked separately and accounts for the remaining 40% of the final grade.