Graphic Design

Course Description

The definition of graphic design is that it is a commercial art form that uses words and imagery to represent or communicate ideas for a purpose. You will be encouraged to look at this work with a new perspective. In order to develop an understanding of design concepts and practices it is vital to have relevant reference points, enabling you to put your own work into context. Therefore, the teaching of contemporary design practices and concepts, referencing modern designers and artists, using up to date resources and gallery trips is at the core of all we do.

Entry Requirements

Students studying three A Levels will be expected to have a minimum of two GCSEs at grade 6 and three other GCSEs at grade 5/4 or above, including English Language and Mathematics at grade 5/4. It is not necessary to have studied Art & Design or Graphic Design at GCSE in order to study A Level Graphic Design. However, a keen interest in the subject is crucial.

Course Content

Observational drawing underpins all you do on this course. You will work from your own drawings and photographs and you will be taught to draw for a range of different purposes; such as to generate primary sources, idea generation and sketching. Drawing allows you to collect information, express and communicate feelings, opinions and ideas, helps to solve problems and develops your visual thinking skills and allows you to explore a wide range of materials & media: both traditional and digital.

Students will work across the following pathways: Illustration/animation, Typography and Lettering Graphic Design Advertising and Branding Motion Graphics. You will create many wonderful things and you will explore the design process thoroughly with dedication and creativity. Your subject tutors are on hand throughout the year to offer support and guidance. We ask a lot from our students but give a lot in return. You will extend and develop work produced in class in your own time. We expect graphic design students to set aside five hours a week outside of class time to develop the techniques, ideas and experiments started in class. This type of self-directed independent study is what sets our students head and shoulders above others. Graphic design is everywhere, it is important you begin to observe, reflect and evaluate on the types of design around you and document this research in your sketchbooks. A word about sketchbooks! You will use sketchbooks to document all the work you do. They require a degree of commitment from the beginning, which may be quite daunting at first. You will be shown how to layout your sketchbooks in a creative and skilful way and taught to thoughtfully, critically & analytically examine both your own work and the work of others. You will learn how to document your creative making process and develop your graphic image making skills.


Component one: Personal Investigation (60% of final grade) throughout year one and into December of year two.

Component two: Externally Set Assignment (40% of final grade) runs from February to May of your second year.

Both components are internally assessed and externally moderated. You will also present a portfolio and an exhibition of your work covering both components which is internally assessed and externally moderated.

Enrichment and Work Experience

There is an opportunity to complete a one week work placement in the summer term. Throughout the academic year there will be several day trips to galleries, artist studios and city visits to gather and practise your observation recording techniques. Some will be enriching, but for those that are compulsory, travel costs will be met by The Sixth Form. Workshops are run every Wednesday afternoon offering a range of enrichment activities including: Animation, Dark room photography, Workshops with visiting designers like Ben Tustin (Bind Studios), artists from Islington Mill, Hotbed Press and Salford Makers and Christine Charnock (The BBC).

Additional Information

To support your studies, you will be required to purchase relevant materials as outlined below:

Kit £21.90 includes: A3 plastic portfolio, set of drawing pencils, fine liner, masking tape, Molotow markers 2mm & 4-8mm chisel tip in black, A3 layout pad.

Links with other subjects:
Media studies, Film studies, Photography, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Sociology and English language.

Future Career Opportunities

Students go on to study art & design at pre-degree foundation level or a BA degree. Our students have progressed to areas including: graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, animation and art or gallery director.

Why study at The Sixth Form Bolton?

We will encourage you to develop skills which will assist you in your future career and help you to build up an innovative and exciting portfolio of work which will support you in progressing on to university, an apprenticeship or employment. We have excellent progression rates to higher education and well established links with prestigious universities.