Art and Design: Fine Art A Level

Art and Design: Fine Art

Study Fine Art and discover new ways to understand and respond to the world, through visual, tactile and sensory experiences. This course is full of opportunities to develop your skills by experimenting with a myriad of traditional and contemporary media. As you create, you will explore how Fine Art enables us to consider and reflect on our place in the world – as individuals and collectively.

Why St Mary’s

St Mary's is consistently ranked in the top 15% for value-added in the UK for Art, and in the top 10% for Photography. In 2021, the Department won a national Education Business Award, which recognises excellence in the visual arts.

Enjoy creating in your own personal workspace in our Sixth Form Studio, part of our dedicated Art and Photography Centre @ No.47 Bateman Street, as you explore a broad range of 2D media, including painting, illustration, drawing and mixed media.

You will have access to exceptional facilities including our kiln, printing presses, digital art suite, professional cameras and lenses, photographic darkroom, professional lighting studio and fine art room.

Our enriched learning opportunities include:

Supported by dedicated teachers, you will benefit from exceptional facilities including our kiln, printing presses, digital art suite, professional cameras and lenses, photographic darkroom, professional lighting studio and fine art room.

Enabling your transition from GCSE

Your course will begin with a theme-based curriculum, which builds technical skills and explores different concepts. As you progress, you will develop your own work, with access to teacher support at lunchtime (four days a week), plus evening support sessions (two days a week).

A range of curated resources on Cloudbase will support and enhance learning throughout your studies and you will benefit from 24/7 access to our digital teacher feedback system.

Course overview

A Level content

Personal investigation

You will undertake a broad-based course of study, with freedom to explore a range of 2D media, including painting, illustration, drawing and mixed media.

Your personal investigation will take the form of a portfolio of work, including:

  • Supporting studies – development work and exploration of ideas
  • Practical work – outcomes based on themes and ideas created from your personal starting points

Your personal investigation will be evidenced and supported by a written critical communication, involving contextual research (a minimum of 1000 words of continuous prose, which can contain integrated images).

Externally set assignment

This component includes:

  • Preparatory studies
  • 15-hour period of sustained focus (exam conditions)

This assignment is an opportunity to draw together the knowledge, understanding and skills gained across the course. You will develop your own response to a broad-based thematic starting point via a portfolio of practical work and final outcome(s). The preparatory studies will demonstrate your development of ideas.


A Level assessment

You will be assessed on two core elements:

  • Personal investigation (60% of the total mark)
  • Externally set assignment (40% of the total mark)

A Level Art exhibition 2022

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At a glance
  • Syllabus: Edexcel (9FA0)
  • Portfolio assessment
  • Externally set assessment
  • 100% A*-B grades
  • Small class sizes
  • Award-winning department
  • Exceptional facilities
  • Unique enrichment opportunities

Entry requirements

GCSE grades (or equivalent)

  • Subject 1: Art: 6+ (iGCSE B)
  • Subject 2: English Language: 6+ (CEFR B2.2)
  • Or portfolio submission (essential for international students)


You will enjoy this course if you ...
  • Are inspired by art, craft or design
  • Have a creative, enquiring mind
  • Enjoy exploring and communicating new ideas
  • Appreciate the visual world
  • Are keen to develop your skills and techniques
  • Enjoy using technology
  • Like working with others
  • Have a problem-solving approach

What our teachers say...

“Art allows students another channel by which they can communicate. For some students it can be the only real form of communication they feel comfortable with.

Visual Arts is an important and powerful communicative tool, it is a language, even though it is not subject to phonetics.”

"I prefer living in colour." David Hockney

Art has the power to record and communicate the underlying values of a society, documenting the communities we exist in or have existed in, and the history of cultural development and events. It helps us to know and reflect upon what it is to be human.

If you know how Art is created and executed – by understanding symbolism, colour, composition and more – you unlock another world. You gain an insight into creativity and a certain type of freedom with which to communicate with world. We study language to better our understanding of our environment and to connect as a society and art is no different.

Past students have gone on to study at leading universities including Central St Martins, Bath University, Bristol University, York University, Leeds Arts University, Norwich University of Arts, UCL, St Andrews, Loughborough University, Manchester University, London College of Communication and Southampton University.

Our alumnae are now pursuing successful careers in architecture, fashion, graphic design, fine art, sculpture, communication and advertising, curatorship, interior design, photography, illustration, urban planning and art history.


Leaver destinations

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Our results

Achieve the results you need to fulfil your dreams.

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