Fine Art

Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage” – here at Cirencester College we couldn’t agree more! Passion, resilience, and determination are also critical skills that art students develop in abundance. The study of Fine Art not only provides you with the opportunity to acquire new practical skills whilst strengthening existing ones, but it also encourages independent thinking, self-expression, and communication. This course is designed to stimulate and inspire through a combination of playful experimentation, creative risk taking and artist research, in a quest to generate and develop personal ideas through the creation of practical art and written work. We look forward to welcoming you onto the course and hope that you will enjoy an immersive experience into the exciting, challenging, and fascinating world of art.

Awarding Body

Available As

A Level

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What will I study?

You will be introduced to a broad variety of materials and techniques, and encouraged to experiment creatively with them to develop original ideas and produce final outcomes that successfully combine skill, aesthetics and concept.

How will I learn?

You will learn through experience! This is very much a practical course in which you will be drawing, painting, printing and making art. You will test, trial and practise a number of techniques and approaches associated with a wide range of media. You will learn and master skills through a willingness to take creative risks and through lots of practice! You will also be introduced to a wide range of inspirational artists and art movements and conduct artist and contextual research to inform and influence your creative practice.

How will I be assessed?

A-level Fine Art is delivered over two academic years.

At the start of the course you will be introduced to a diverse range of materials, techniques and processes and given the opportunity to explore and develop new skills through completion of an introduction project. The aim of this is to prepare you for your coursework, allowing you to recognise your strengths and discover new ways of working.

Following this you will begin The Personal Investigation (60%) which is a substantial self-directed coursework project that allows for in-depth research and exploration of a theme or subject matter which is of personal interest to you. The project will integrate critical, practical and theoretical work.

During your first year you will be required to complete an extended written critical and contextual study of the work of other fine artists whose work has a relevance to your own practice (minimum 1000 words). This will give you the opportunity to place your practical work within a historical and/or contemporary context and to demonstrate that you have made pertinent and critical connections to artists working within the same or related fields or genres as yourself.

Year Two
The Personal Investigation concludes after a period of extensive creative making, development and the creation of a high quality finished outcome that demonstrates artist influence and personal responses to your chosen theme.

Following the completion of your Personal Investigation, you will begin work on The Externally Set Assignment (40%). This consists of a range of visual and written starting points that are prepared by the examining body. You will choose one of these and begin your 13 week preparatory period leading to the development of a resolved final outcome produced in 15 hours (normally three days), under controlled conditions in the studio.

Both the Personal Investigation and the Externally Set Assignment are internally assessed and externally moderated.


Are there any trips on this course?

Trips to local and national galleries occur throughout the year to help students gather research and inspiration. The Art & Design team also try to run a residential trip. Previous examples include Venice, Barcelona and Paris.  

Are there any extra costs?

You will need to purchase a starter kit of art materials at the beginning of the course from the College reprographics shop which is currently £23 - this pack will support you through the early stages of the introduction project. There is also a studio fee of £30 each year, which will enable you to have access to a wider range of materials and equipment. During the course you will also need to buy A3 skethcbooks to generate artwork in, mount board to present work and an A1 portfolio for storage purposes.It is advisable to purchase your own art materials once you have established what your prefernces are.    

Are there any specific entry requirements?

Grade 5 or a MERIT or DISTINCTION at BTEC Level 2 in an Art or Design subject. Entry may also be made via portfolio/interview.

What enrichment activities are offered?

Art students are signposted towards relevant galleries, exhibitions and opportunities for example in the past students have experienced what it would be like to work as an artist in residence at the Corinium Museum, attended workshops at the Fresh Air Sculpture Show and have entered national art competitions that resulted in exhibiting work in Alexandra Palace, London. All excellent additions to the CV! 

What work experience opportunities are there?

Art students are signposted towards work experience opportunities when they arise for example students in the past have invigilated at the Grayson Perry exhibition in The New Brewery Arts and participated in community art projects such as the Cirencester Hare trail.

Careers Information


What is the difference between Art & Design and Fine Art?

Very little - Fine Art means almost anything that could be displayed in a gallery. The work produced will explore a personal idea or concept and consider visual aesthetics, rather than having a function.

Must I have studied GCSE Art?

As long as you have studied a creative GCSE such as Textiles or Graphics and achieved at least a grade 5 you will be a suitable recruit for the A-level in Art.

It is important that you have a keen interest in the subject, and are willing to learn new ways of working.

Will I be expected to do a lot of writing?

You will be required to write a 1000 word Extended Written Element as part of your coursework. You will also be expected to fill your sketchbooks with annotation, analysis and evaluation of your own work and the work of others.

Can I choose my own project?

You will work from some set starting points at the beginning of year 1 but you will be able to develop your own personal direction from these. As the year progresses and certainly when you are in year 2 you will choose your own theme to respond to. The possibilities are endless and you will be given clear guidance and advice to help you.

Do I need to be able to draw?

Yes, however if you feel under confident in your drawing skills all we ask is for a willingness to improve and develop this skill. We will teach you new and exciting ways to draw ranging from realistic to experimental techniques enabling you to find a working method that suits you. You will certainly need to be able to draw if you intend to progress to Art Foundation or an Art Degree, so this course will help to prepare you.