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A Level Graphic Communication

Graphic Communication is a subject which requires the development of many skills. As well as a good eye for design, you will need problem-solving skills, a willingness to experiment with both hand made and digital image making techniques, creative ability, patience and an interest in how visual media can influence society.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English Language and usually Mathematics. You should also have studied a related subject such as Graphic Design, Graphic Communication, Art and Design, Product Design, Photography or Textiles at GCSE level.

Evidence of creative ability must be shown at interview in the form of a portfolio of art and design work.

Course Content

Graphic Communication is essentially about the communication of ideas through the use of text and image. Students will produce practical and critical/contextual work in one or more areas including illustration, advertising, packaging design, design for print, communication graphics, multimedia and animation.

The first year consists of two units:

Coursework Portfolio: You will complete several guided projects. Recent projects have included a Modernist Poster for an art gallery and Expressive Typography outcomes for the London Underground. Candidates should produce a collection of material which exemplifies work carried out during these projects.

Externally Set Assignment: Candidates select from one of five starting points created by the exam board. Candidates may produce preparatory work and a finished piece or pieces of work of a wholly developed nature. During this period candidates complete 5 hours unaided, supervised time, in which they focus on developing ideas and completing their final outcome/s.

Upon successful completion of the first year students can progress to the second year which also consists of two units, the second of which is also externally set. The second year is more self directed in nature and will require the students to produce work that is more individual in nature and which tackles issues surrounding identity and ethics.

How will I be taught?

The course requires you to be open minded to both digital and hand made art and design approaches so that you can ultimately produce a portfolio of varied and creative coursework. In addition to lesson workshops you will be required to spend approximately 5 hours per week to self directed study developing your project work.

You will be supported by lecturers with previous graphic design or illustration industry experience and will be able to make full use of the excellent facilities and equipment available to you. You will be well informed of both current and historically significant artist/ designers through lecturer presentations and will be encouraged to use the substantial range of Graphic Design books and magazines available in the library. You will be introduced to digital and hand crafted illustrative, typographic and layout techniques through guided workshops. You will have access to one Mac per student when working in the design studio and a range of Apple laptops, scanners, digital cameras and digital drawing pads are also available. High quality colour printing will be free of charge.

You will learn to produce work on the industry standard Adobe CS3 software and by the end of the course should be comfortable with both the Photoshop and Illustrator programs. As well as learning digital skills there is also a strong emphasis on hand made approaches such as drawing, letterpress, screenprinting, expressive painting, abstraction and collage.

How will I be assessed?

Projects begin with the design brief and students are required to work within specific time scales to a produce printed outcome, as well as showing evidence of the design process in a sketchbook. The course is designed to encourage the development of a variety of approaches through the practice of typography, illustration, problem solving, digital design, research and self initiated work. The final outcomes are judged on the student’s ability to answer the brief both appropriately and creatively.

Will I need any extra equipment?

Throughout the year some general art materials will be provided by the College but certain items such as sketchbooks, memory stick and mount card will need to be purchased by the student. The College shop supplies art and design equipment and materials which may be purchased at discount prices.

Students do not, as a requirement, need to have graphics software at home. At College there will be sufficient access to the relevant digital equipment and software.

What qualifications will I get?

Upon successful completion of courses, you will be awarded an A Level in Graphic Communication by the AQA examining board.

What will it allow me to do in the future?

Students will leave the course with both a qualification and a varied portfolio of project work which can be taken to job or university interviews. Many students wishing to pursue art and design further progress to a Pre Degree Foundation Course in Art and Design, followed by a university degree in the creative specialism of their choice. Such courses have included Graphic Design, Illustration, Typography, Digital Media, Computer Animation, Computer Games Design, Advertising, Fine Art and Architecture. In some cases students have progressed straight into employment and are now working within local print and graphic design companies.

Course Information

Work experience can be arranged through the Work Experience Office at the College and is to be encouraged for those students who are seriously considering art and design as a career or higher education option.

Graphic Communication is only one of five separate pathways in Art and Design available at the College. The four other options are: 2D Art, Textiles, Combined Arts, and Photography. It is recommended that only those students who are seriously considering a career in art and design should study more than one of these options.

Students, aged over 19 on the 1 September of the year the course commences will be required to pay tuition and examination/assessment fees. There are a number of grants available for students on low incomes and for those studying on a first time qualification.

Please contact Customer Services on 0800 056 0511 or email customerservices@southdowns.ac.uk for further information.

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