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Home » Courses » A Level Art & Design: Illustration & Graphics

A Level Art & Design: Illustration & Graphics

Do you possess a lively, enquiring mind? Do you enjoy developing your ideas through drawing and utilising a range of processes towards a final project? During this course, you will learn to develop design solutions, exploring the power of visual communication as an invaluable commercial tool.


The course is structured to support and develop your confidence and individual strengths, from illustrative and traditional studio-based skills through to more graphics and digitally based practice, allowing for a broad and creative approach to design. The start of the course involves a series of workshops covering traditional skills such as experimental drawing through to digital skills using software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. These workshops allow you to develop and bank a broad range of varied skills to draw upon as the course progresses and you begin your individual responses to a brief.

Independent work is fundamental to the course; at least 50% of all work assessed should have happened outside the classroom, so be prepared to immerse yourself in this creatively varied subject. You will be encouraged to reflect, analyse, and critically evaluate your own work and that of other artists past and present and openly discuss in lessons.

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Start date: 09/09/2024

Course code
Level 3
Penwith College
2 years
A Level


Industry-standard software

Portfolio preparation

Specialist lecturers

Small class sizes

Outstanding facilities


Traditional and Contemporary

Explore a mix of traditional and contemporary processes; these are structured to encourage personal confidence in your own preferences and interests.


Develop Specialist Skills

Refine ways of working which suit your individual interests, acquiring and developing specialist skills in your chosen discipline.

Art And Design00001

Communicate Ideas

Develop skills in communicating ideas visually; initially to set briefs and then to personally negotiated design briefs.


You will begin the course with a range of varied and challenging workshops developing fundamental skills and knowledge integral to the world of Illustration and Design. Workshops include experimental drawing and playful image making for students who wish to take the more traditional approach; digital workshops offer all students access to develop skills in industry standard software including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Other aspects you will explore include typography, thumbnail sketches, layout design, and mixed media, extending these further through digital media.

The research and development of your concepts and designs are gathered in your sketchbook. Documenting and constantly reflecting on your creative development, you will become skilled in communicating ideas visually, to meet your clients’ needs. By the end of the first year, you will have produced a body of work which documents your creative thinking and design process.

The second year builds on your learning in the first year. There is one personally negotiated, focused coursework project and one exam project. As well as building on your evolving visual identity, there is a considerable written element; this is supported by group presentations strengthening your analytical skills through both discussion and written work.

Towards the end of the course you are given eight weeks lecture time to prepare for a 15-hour exam. The preparation time forms a personal project responding to a chosen exam theme; the 15-hour exam time is used to create a final piece that resolves this project.

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Employment as a graphic designer is the clearest route but this course also offers a way into illustration or, with further study, animation; you could work in the media, an advertising company or design agency. You can progress directly from A Level to an arts degree such as Graphic Design, Visual Communication, Illustration, Games Design and Multi-Media Design.


Component 1: Personal Investigation 
Internally Assessed 60% of A Level 
The Personal Investigation consists of a major in-depth, practical, critical and theoretical investigative project/theme-based portfolio. Learners will be required to carry out an extended critical and contextual analysis (1000 word minimum requirement).

Component 2: Externally Set Assignment 
Internally Assessed 40% of A Level 
Learners will be required to independently develop a personal response to one of a varied range of stimuli. Learners will develop their response during a preparatory study period culminating in a 15 hour sustained focus study.

Homework is set weekly. Initially it is set by lecturers and will be tightly specified and closely linked to class workshops; it will be monitored regularly. As the course develops you will be required to set your own homework/independent work based on agreed learning needs.

Your ongoing work will be assessed in lessons through focused 1:1 discussion. Sketchbook work will be assessed regularly for reflective, thoughtful, analytical critical evaluation and annotation. Emphasis is upon the development towards a final piece, through observation and technical, aesthetic and conceptual refinement.

You will also be assessed against how your research of art, craft, design, media and technologies in contemporary and past societies and cultures improves your own understanding and practice.

Discussions and presentations are a vital part of our assessment process and you will be expected to contribute to these during your lessons.


A minimum of five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above to include English Language or Literature and/or Maths at Grade 5.

Preferably GCSE Art Grade 4 or above and a keen interest in drawing and developing your creativity.


The Art Department is friendly, supportive, ambitious and hardworking. Achievement in this subject relies heavily on your attendance, punctuality and commitment to learning, both independently and within lectures.

Independent practice will be supported through PowerPoints, worksheets and other guides available through our Moodle course. We also provide further support through focused boards on Pinterest.

Awarding Body: Eduqas

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What you could earn

  • Artists
  • Arts Officers, Producers and Directors
  • Textiles, Garments and Related Trades
  • Textile Process Operatives
  • Advertising Accounts Managers and Creative Directors
  • Architects
  • Furniture Makers and Other Craft Woodworkers
  • Other Skilled Trades
Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


Potential Salary


Entry Level Salary


Average Salary


Annual openings in Cornwall


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