GCSE Art and Design

At GCSE level we aim to provide a high-quality art and design education that engages, inspires and challenges pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design.

‘You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it.’  Jack London

Course description

The GCSE Course in art and design encourages pupils to think critically and to develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design. Pupils will learn how art and design reflects and shapes our history, and contributes to the culture, creativity and wealth of our nation.

The course begins in Year 9 where pupils have the opportunity to consolidate their existing skills completing a series of mini skills projects. Towards the end of Y9 pupils will begin work on their extended project for Unit 1. This coursework element allows pupils to explore the work of different artists and designers and to develop skills using different media and techniques. Past themes have included starting points such as Folds, Up Close, Food and Fantastic Plants. In Year 11 pupils will undertake a mock examination, selecting a starting point from previous examination papers. This project provides the opportunity for pupils to develop their own project ideas with individual support and guidance from their teacher. Pupils are encouraged to work to their strengths and can explore painting and drawing, printmaking, textiles, photography, 3D design and sculpture. In the final term of Year 11 pupils will complete Unit 2 which involves the selection of a starting point from an externally set examination paper. To prepare for this pupils will undertake preparatory studies and plan for a final piece of work which they will complete during ten hours of supervised time. At the end of the course pupils will display their work in their own exhibition.

After GCSE pupils may continue their Art and Design studies within the sixth Form completing GCE A’ Level Art and Design. This course will help pupils to gain entry to higher education courses in Art and Design in different specialist areas such as Fashion and Textiles, Graphics, Ceramics, Interior Design and Architecture.

Exam board

  • AQA

Course code

  • 4200

Exam board website

Link to past papers


There are four assessment Objectives which are marked as pupils complete their coursework. At the end of Year 11 the coursework which makes up 60% of the final grade is marked internally as a whole and marks submitted for external moderation. Unit 2 which makes up 40% of the final grade is internally assessed and externally moderated.

Ways to help my child succeed

Pupils studying GCSE Art and Design will need to complete work on their portfolios each week and will also need to visit galleries and carry out research for their work. You can support your child by providing a suitable space for them to work on their artwork at home and access to the internet for the purpose of research. Access to a camera and a colour printer is useful but pupils are able to use these facilities at school.

Useful websites

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