GCSE Art & Design

Art in secondary school teaches students to observe the world around them and see it in a new way; they record, analyse and create a visual response to their surroundings.

Why study Art and Design?

Studying Art and Design enhances fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, lateral thinking, complex analysis and critical thinking skills, all of which are highly prized by employers and will help you excel in a wide range of professions. 


The GCSE Art & Design course enables you to develop a visual language which benefits communication and expressive skills and combines well with many subjects such as D&T and Computer science.  Art & Design is an ideal platform for many career options within the creative industries, which in the UK are booming e.g. Fine Art (Painting, Sculpture), Architecture, Contemporary crafts, Photography, Fashion, Film-making, Graphic Design, Illustration, Gallery & Museum Education, Interior Design, Special Effects, Animation, Game design, On-line publishing and many other digital careers. As well as all this, Art feeds the soul!

Course Content

We offer a broad-based fine art course, which builds on and uses the skills acquired at KS3.  Young artists studying GCSE ideally should be curious about how and why art is made in our society and those of other cultures, as well as enjoy and be enthusiastic about making art themselves.

You will be encouraged, especially in Year 10, to take creative risks as you explore your ideas and experiment with new techniques and materials in both two and three dimensions; you will have the opportunity to work within several artistic disciplines, including drawing, painting, print-making, photography, mixed media and sculpture (e.g. clay, mod-roc, wire, card).

Students will need a selection of basic art equipment for personal use at home; your teachers will advise you on this.

Three units are completed during the course; there will be a choice of topics set by your teachers, and a selection of this work is then submitted for moderation.

We organise two visits, one to a museum or gallery and one to Kew Gardens; both provide an inspirational starting point for coursework units.

You will learn how to:

  • Develop your practical skills, including drawing from direct observation
  • Critically analyse art works, and explore the ideas behind them
  • Experiment with a wide range of materials and techniques
  • Develop your own imaginative ideas
  • Make substantial paintings, sculptures and mixed media pieces

How will it be assessed?

The GCSE course is divided into two components:

Art & Design Portfolio (60%):

This is the coursework component (September of Year 10 to January of Year 11); you will submit 1 unit selected from the work you have produced over the course.  There will be continuous individual assessment of coursework (as already experienced at Key Stage 3) and this work can be improved to gain higher marks. 

Art & Design Externally Set Task (40%):

You will choose a topic from a selection set by the exam board in January of Year 11, and develop a project over a nine-week period; this unit is completed at the end of April during a ten-hour exam under supervised conditions.

(Both the Portfolio and Externally Set Task are non-examined assessments which are marked by your teacher, then exhibited for moderation by the exam board.) 

Copies of the assessment objectives and exemplar material are available for you to see in both art rooms and digitally in the Art GCSE folder in the student-shared folder.

Further information:

For further information on the benefits of taking Art GCSE, visit:

Also, BBC Bitesize website has a collection of great resources, advice, videos and links to artists and those working in the creative industries: