Fine Art A-level


Being a Fine Art student provides you with a unique and exciting opportunity to explore, discover and develop highly personal and creative ideas in response to the world around you. This course will introduce you to a broad variety of materials, techniques and processes. You will engage with extensive research, experimentation and development work to enable you to make final outcomes that successfully combine skill, aesthetics and concept.

What will I study in Fine Art A-level?

Year One

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 the completion of an introduction project. The disciplines of drawing, painting, printmaking and mixed media are explored, some will be familiar to you to enable you to strengthen your existing skill set, such as continuous line and tonal drawing but the course also hopes to show you new and exciting methods such as reduction lino printing, collagraph and etchings to expand your repertoire. The visual elements: line, tone, colour, form, texture and shape will be used to inform a series of fun and experimental practical exercises to develop confidence in constructing successful compositions. You will be introduced to working with both conventional and unconventional tools to encourage an expansive range of mark making and to promote creative risk taking. The aim of this introduction project 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 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, inclusive of an extended written study. You will analyse the work of inspirational fine artists whose work has relevance to your own theme, giving 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 fine artists. You will also be expected to continuously reflect on your practice as it develops through written annotations in your sketchbook.

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.

You will then 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 as a starting point and begin your 13 week preparatory period leading to the development of a resolved final outcome produced in 15 hours (normally held over three days), under controlled conditions in the studio.

Entry Requirements

At least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above all from the basket subjects as well as Grade 5 or a MERIT/DISTINCTION at BTEC Level 2 in an Art or Design subject.

If you have not studied a creative visual course at GCSE, entry may also be made via portfolio/interview. You have the option of showing us the work you have done or there is a set project which you can undertake so that we can see your skills and gauge your enthusiasm to study this course.

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 and trial a number of techniques and approaches associated with a wide range of media. You will learn and master skills through a willingness to experiment, 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.

You will work mainly independently on your own individual projects, however peer reviews and group critiques are a key part of how you learn to develop your confidence and projects, so these will take place from time to time throughout the course.

How will I be assessed?

Through a combination of coursework (60%) and exam work (40%). You will generate sketchbook work, final outcomes and an extended written study (minimum 1,000 words). You will receive regular written and verbal feedback, that corresponds with the assessment criteria to help you identify strengths and areas to improve. Both the Personal Investigation coursework and the Externally Set Assignment exam are internally assessed and externally moderated.

Any trips?

Trips to local and national galleries and exhibitions occur throughout the year to help students gather research and inspiration. We have also run trips to Universities to visit end of year degree shows to help students begin their progression research. The Art & Design team also try to run a residential trip. Previous examples include Paris, Milan, Budapest and London.

Are there any costs involved?

  • There is an annual studio fee of £40 to cover the costs of paper, paints, printing inks and other materials. This is payable via wisepay when you join the college
  • You will need to purchase sketchbooks, mountboard and an A1 Portfolio - you will be advised when to purchase these by your art lecturer
  • Trips are an additional cost


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.

We will consider students who do not have a creative GCSE, but would ask to see a portfolio of independent work at the interview or ask you to complete a mini project to demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm to the course in advance of being enrolled on the course.

Will I be expected to do a lot of writing?

You will be required to write a 1000 word Extended Written Study as part of your coursework. You will also be expected to fill your sketchbooks with reflective 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 have creative freedom to develop your own personal direction from these. As the year progresses and certainly when the coursework begins you will choose your own theme to respond to. The possibilities are to help you decide you will be given clear guidance and advice before selecting your theme.

Can I study three creative subjects?

If you intend to study any three of the following subjects:  Photography, Fine Art, Textiles, Graphics and 3D Design you need to be aware of the following points.

  • You should be an exceptionally motivated and talented student and anticipate a career in the creative industry.
  • It is not generally advisable to study three creative courses but is not prohibited.
  • The work load will be extremely high with similar or identical pressure points in all courses.
  • These courses share a specification (currently from EDUQAS/WJEC) and therefore have a common marks scheme and share an Externally Assessed Assignment paper.
  • This could limit your career progression because your programme of study is highly focused on creative subjects and would not generally be suitable for admission to an academic Degree course.

You will need to see one of the Art and Design team before enrolment and you will need extensive evidence of your creativity (Digital Portfolio).

Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

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What can I do after I have taken this course?

Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

Add to Application

Social Media

Recently Visited Courses

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See examples of creativeness from Fine Art A-level students

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What the students say

Fine Art at Cirencester is a wonderfully creative subject that encourages expression through a wide variety of mediums, I had never previously considered. It constantly challenges and encourages to experimentation, and the result is a much more interesting and varied portfolio.

Rosie Lightfoot