Graphic Design

Graphic Design represents the commercial side of art and design, in which communication is as important as aesthetic effect. Studying Graphic Design gives you the opportunity to explore the broader world of art, creating images with originality but also purpose, using a wide range of graphic techniques to create illustration, advertising, and packaging. Students have the opportunity to experiment with a vast array of approaches including drawing, painting, typography, collage, printmaking, and photography. Concepts and observations can be developed and refined in order to communicate clearly and powerfully.

Imaginative and self-motivated work is encouraged to build up a portfolio of coursework. There are regular tutorials and assessments and each student is able to explore his or her own enthusiasms and interests.

What will I learn?

Students will be given ‘client briefs’ to work to, and these could involve designing posters, book covers, advertisements, CD designs, magazine illustrations, and leaflets. They are encouraged to study a wide range of artists and designers from the past and present, researching and developing their own ideas, and experimenting with both traditional and contemporary media and processes to create a style of their own.

The Lower Sixth year is run as a foundation year in which students are introduced to the fundamentals of Graphic Design, and learn to acquire a broad knowledge of techniques and approaches which will help them confidently to execute their graphic designs and ideas in their examined work later in the course. The College runs internal end of year exams in the summer term.

In the Upper Sixth students will have the opportunity to work on a project of their own choice as well as a brief provided by the examining board, affording them the opportunity to develop their own graphic creativity and then to apply these skills to a given project. In recent years briefs have included producing work to advertise a jazz festival, and designing the label for a wine bottle.

Department success and trips

In the twenty-first century, as advertising and design have become increasingly important to the commercial world, Graphic Design has emerged as a useful and sought-after skill. It can provide a platform for students to progress to study many subjects at higher education including Visual Communications, Graphic Art and Design, Illustration, and Art Foundation courses. University destinations of Fine Arts College students have included Leeds, Birmingham City, Cardiff, Brighton, Middlesex, the London College of Communication, and other colleges within UAL. Some students have later taken up careers in areas including advertising, fashion, interior design, and web design.

Students will be expected to explore the contemporary art and design world independently by visiting London’s leading art galleries, for example Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery, the Design Museum, the V&A, and the Royal Academy. Recently the department has also led trips to particularly relevant exhibitions such as the London Illustration Fair at the Oxo Tower Gallery and 50 Years of Graphic Design at the Royal College of Art.


Assessment is through a mix of coursework and an examination piece.

Coursework (60%) ‘Personal investigation’ based on idea, issue, concept or theme chosen by the student plus an evaluation of 1,000 – 3,000 words.
Final Piece (40%) Externally-set assignment. Students spend a total of 15 hours working on one of a choice of eight tasks. Marks are given for research, idea development, experimentation with new materials and ability to satisfy a ‘brief’ with a successful final design.


Examination board: AQA

Graphic Design

Graphic Design