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Graphics and Illustration A Level

Graphics and Illustration A Level provides the opportunity for students to develop their creative potential as a graphic designer or illustrator through a wide area of study. Every year students use their projects as a tool for expressing their personal interests, from children's books, packaging and promotion to fashion magazines, animation, new media and branding.

Graphic design and communication is an exciting, dynamic, continually evolving field. On this course, students will be taught the design process through a series of tutorials and practical workshops in design, drawing, illustration and typography.

At Richmond upon Thames College, we want our students to be creative, to be inspired by the exercises set in the scheme of work, to try new ways of image making and experiment with a wide range of different materials. Students will learn to use design and multimedia software and acquire the technical skills to be proficient in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator; these will enhance design and illustration work, until students are creating final pieces to a professional standard.

As part of the Graphics and Illustration course students will also be introduced to a range of graphic subjects such as illustration, letterforms and packaging design. The course will nurture and encourage innovative and creative thinking, helping students to find their own voice and way of working within the broad scope of graphic communication.

Please note that only one specialist endorsed option in Art and Design can be taken in an A Level study programme. Graphics and Illustration is offered as a specialist endorsed option and the syllabus title for this course is: Art and Design – Graphics and Illustration A Level.


A level students will study a two year linear A Level programme. At the end of their 1st year, students will sit internally assessed exams.


Exam Board: Eduqas



Search your university and career options if you study Graphics and Illustration A Level

  • What will I study and learn?

    Graphics and Illustration begins with an induction course which teaches core observational drawing techniques with visits to Warner Brothers Studios and Zoological Society London.


    As part of the course, you will learn to draw and paint using a wide range of media including acrylics, oils and gouache; you will experiment with mixed media and work in a variety of craft disciplines. Your skills will develop to high standards through regular practice, including weekly homework. Projects are based on design briefs, involving research from direct observation, including the human figure, which often follows visits to galleries and museums. Teaching includes group work and individual demonstration of craft techniques. Graphic design students are also taught special lettering, typography, layout and illustration.


    You will develop analytical, experimental and documenting skills, a specialist vocabulary and knowledge and understanding of the place of art and design in history and contemporary society.


    Graphic communication is an art course covering advertising and editorial graphics and illustration. It should not be confused with graphics visualising for product design.


    This course is a suitable foundation for students interested in progressing onto an applied art degree, the Art and Design (Pre BA) Level 3 Foundation Diploma, a HNC or HND in graphic design.

    Throughout the year there will be a number of research trips, which are aimed at enhancing critical and contextual studies, and providing inspiration for your work.

  • How is the course assessed?

    The course is assessed through exams and coursework.

  • What courses would combine well with this course?

    There are many A Levels which would combine well with this course. However, you will only be able to select one specialist endorsed subject in Art and Design as part of your A Level programme. If you have already made a specialist career decision in art and design you should consider the full-time BTEC Level 3 courses. Each of these courses have a common first year; after which you will then be required to choose a specialism in the second year.

  • What skills will I need for the course?

    You should have a creative mind, a willingness to learn and take on board new ideas, be keen to experiment with new techniques, have good craft skills and be motivated.

  • What formal entry requirements will I need?

    Minimum requirements - average point score of 5 including GCSE English Language and Art at grade 5 plus a strong portfolio.


    Points calculation

    The average points score for entry to an A Level programme will be calculated using your 8 best GCSEs OR 6 GCSEs plus 1 technical qualification (equivalent to a maximum of 2 GCSEs and 10 points). From 2017 English Language, English Literature and Mathematics GCSE will be graded numerically (1 – 9. Grade 5 = a good grade C, grade 6 = grade B and grade 7 = grade A).

    To work out your average and find out more information, please see our Entry Requirements page.

  • What could the course lead to in higher education or careers?

    There are many careers in art, craft and design. Most require further study at art school or university, usually via a one-year diagnostic pre-degree Art and Design (Pre BA) Level 3 Foundation Diploma course. Careers in art and design include advertising, marketing, product design, model-making, film, TV and theatre design, animation, website design, special effects, digital photography, architecture, publishing, the media and teaching. With knowledge of a foreign language, it is also possible to work abroad. Success, as in most careers, requires determination and dedication and a career in art and design can be very rewarding. Also, the study of art and design can help you to develop transferable skills, such as working with groups and problem-solving, which are of crucial importance in any profession.

  • Are there any costs involved?

    During the Graphics A Level students will produce a personal portfolio of work. To create a diverse and engaging body of work suitable for Higher Education and employment interviews in Art and Design it is expected that you will extend on standard outcomes with specialist media and materials for which a studio fee is charged. The studio fee is a cover charge so that a variety of specialist materials can be purchased at an economical rate through educational suppliers and be available for use where appropriate on developing and presenting a personal portfolio.

    Studio fee - £70 - cover charge for:

    A portfolio, High quality cartridge paper, Acrylic/ oil/ watercolour paints, Oil pastels, Conte chalks, Graphite, Inks, Specialist digital graphic printing production, Foam core board, Grey card, Mounting card

  • Are you aged over 19?

    Students aged 19 or over on 31st August directly preceding their academic year may be required to pay tuition fees for that year of study. Advanced Learner Loans may be available for students studying at Level 3. If you are aged 19-23 as at 31 August and this is your first full Level 3 you may not have to pay fees.


    Students who are 19-24 years old with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) issued by the Local Authority are not required to pay course fees (ie tuition fees are free). Students will be required to provide a final copy of their EHCP provided by the LA as evidence.


    You can find A Level course fees for adults on our A Level page. 

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