Graphic Communication

Graphic communication is everywhere we look, it is on the books we read, the clothes we wear and the food we eat. There is a reason we play that video game or watch that TV show. These reasons come from visual language and that is what we are here to both create and understand. This course will take you through the process of design and how to develop your own creative outcomes. To help you choose the right creative course it can be really helpful if you have photographs of your art/design work with you when you come to any open day, interview or enrolment.

Awarding Body

Available As

A Level

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What will I study?

Outcomes range from short animations to magazines all the way back to logo design. You will be taken through the professional processes associated with Graphic Communication and be given insight into real world applications of your newfound skills. You will learn to use visual and typographic elements together in order to sell an idea, cause or product to a target market. This course will help you utilise your creativity as a means to communicate with an audience, ultimately to tell a story.

How will I learn?

Students will produce a creative body of work that culminates in high quality visual outcomes, your work can be presented in 3 ways, Sketchbook, Portfolio or Digital Publication. The methods and specialisms will be introduced but the areas that you eventually focus on will be down to you. We generally focus on 3 specialist routes, they are Editorial, Branding/Advertising and Illustration/Animation. We will learn all about these specialisms as well as develop proficiency with Adobe software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. All you need is an idea, we will show you the rest.

How will I be assessed?

A-level Graphic Communication is delivered over two academic years.

The first year
At the start of the course you will be given an introduction to a diverse range of Graphic Communication techniques and processes and given the opportunity to explore and develop new skills. Introductory projects always follow a professional outline so group work, deadlines and presentation techniques are areas that have directed focus during this period. This will help you form your own understanding of the industry, design process and prepare you for the main body of coursework.

The Personal Investigation (60%). From February of the first year until February of the second year you will be working on your Personal Investigation. This is a self- directed major project designed to allow you to work to your strengths and build on your skills and particular areas of interest from the introductory phase. You will begin with in-depth research into a theme of your choice. From this you will be expected to develop a variety of personal responses and to complete 2 or more high quality, finished pieces. In addition, you will be required to complete an extended written and illustrated critical and contextual study. 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, designers or craftspeople working within the same or related fields as yourself.

You will produce this project either traditionally or digitally depending on your preference.


The second year
Up until February you will continue to develop your Personal Investigation incorporating all of your experiences over the summer as valuable material in the overall completion of your project work. This time will usually be spent reflecting on your progress and creating your final outcomes. At this point in your journey your strengths will be clear and you can apply those skills effectively over the final winter months.

The Externally Set Assignment (40%). Following the completion of your Personal Investigation in February, you will begin work on the Externally Set Assignment. 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 10-week preparatory period leading to the development of a resolved final collection of outcomes 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 in the past have gone as far as Mexico, New York and Beijing. Closer to home we have visited Paris, Barcelona and Venice.

For the last academic year we ran successful trips to Milan and London. The Milan trip in particular had extremely positive feedback relating to the positive effects it had, not only on students work, but also on their own life experiences, we place a lot of value in the inspirations that world cultures have on our creative and personal intentions.

Are there any extra costs?

During the course you will need to buy portfolios, sketchbooks, USB sticks, have access to a reasonably good camera (this can be on your phone) and basic art equipment.

You will also be expected to get your personal investigation professionally printed and costs are usually around £30+ dependent on format choices.

This course may require additional digital printing so be ready to top up your printing credit,  Access to digital software and a graphics tablet for use outside of college is advantageous but not essential.  Costs approximately £100.00

Are there any specific entry requirements?

Grade 4 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?

The course promotes and engages with the wider creative profession and actively delivers professional practice throughout the first and second year, examples include:

Animation Club succeed program

Live project briefs

Sample briefs have included promotional material for in-house events, logo design for local recruitment consultants, mural designs for the college, children's illustrations for local writers, promotional material for local festival.

Visiting Alumni

Last year students from University of Plymouth and Arts University Bournemouth made time to speak with the students about their experiences.

Emphasis on Deadlines, Presentation Skills and Portfolio

Trips to universities

Including London College of Communication, University of Gloucester and Instituto Marangoni


Careers Information


Will I be expected to do a lot of writing?

Any written work is integrated into the projects you undertake. You will need to annotate, analyse and evaluate your work and the work of others.

Can I choose my own project?

You will work from some set starting points but you will be able to develop your own personal direction from these. The range of possible outcomes is broad e.g. Illustration, editorial, advertising and branding, packaging design, design for print, computer graphics, multimedia design, animation, storyboarding and layout, web and app design or game design.
The possibilities are endless and you will be given clear guidance and advice to help you.

Will I be expected to draw?

Yes, to some extent, this is an art based course and drawing is helpful for recording observations, exploring ideas and communicating designs.

Do I need to have taken a GCSE in Graphic Communication?

Not in every instance but it is prefered, if you have studied Art and/or Design at GCSE. and achieved at least a grade 4, you will be a suitable recruit for the A-level in Graphic Communication. If you have studied Graphics in addition, it is an added bonus! Anyone who has not will need to evidence some skill and proficiency and supply a portfolio to be reviewed by the course leader.

Will I be expected to work outside of lesson time?

Absolutely, you will be expected to spend at least three hours a week developing your project work. You will also have the opportunity to enhance your skills with extension activities and project related homework.