Graphic Communication

A Level

Type of study
Examination board


Be it advertising, campaigns or branding, graphic communication is integral to everyday life. Focusing on the use of text and image to communicate ideas, you’ll produce practical and critical work in areas including illustration, typography, advertising, packaging design, design from print, communication and computer graphics, character design and concept art, multimedia and animation.

This course requires self-motivated students to produce independent work on subjects varying from personal journeys to collective identity and ethics. In the second year, there is an externally-set assignment in which you’ll respond to a question from eight broad graphic communication categories.

You’ll finish the course with a formal qualification and a varied portfolio of work suitable for both employment and academic interviews. This course often progresses to an HND or Pre-Degree Foundation course, followed by a higher education degree in a creative specialism. Previously, some students have progressed straight into employment in advertising and design.

Availability & Details

Graphic Communication, A Level HSDC-SD-AP2GRD

HSDC South Downs Campus
Academic Year 2017-18 (1 year)
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A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English and Mathematics at grade 4 or above. You should also have studied a related subject such as Graphic Design, Art and 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.

On this course you will complete:

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 five 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.

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 artists/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 Apple 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.

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My time at South Downs was definitely life changing, I have learnt a lot of new skills, and obviously it’s a completely new experience. The support was great, there was always people there to help and try make it as easy as they can for you. South Downs is really fantastic, it has helped me on the way to get to what I want to achieve within my career goals.

Erin Morgan, BTEC student

My experience at South Downs was enjoyable and productive, with thoroughly helpful people surrounding you, an excellent experience. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was, with the work shop time and experience I had, it was a great two years preparing me for the next stage.

Edward Smith, BTEC student

My experience at South Downs has been decent, I’ve met lots of people, its been great to be honest, I’ve really enjoyed it.

Oliver Smith, A Level student


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.

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