Art and Design - Graphic Communication

Art Design2

Click on the image above to find out more about studying graphic communication.

Exam board: OCR

Graphic Communication conveys information and ideas through visual means within a set of constraints. The increase in the use of information technology has led to changes in working practices and new ways of both communicating and presenting information.

Who is it for?

Students who have an eye on a career in graphics and the visual arts, or who may simply wish to learn more about the way image and text work together in communicating ideas. Many of the project briefs are designed to encourage applied learning and relate directly to the professional environment.

Entry requirements

In addition to the general entrance requirements, the department requires grade 4 or above for a visual art or design based subject. Graphic communication can be combined with fine art or photography.

Course content

This is a two year course with an emphasis in year one on technical skills, alongside risk taking and creativity. The emphasis throughout this course is on successful visual communication of ideas and messages using images and text. Students concentrate on developing their visual literacy in various forms of graphic communication, and should increase their capacity to generate original ideas and to make sound visual judgements.

Students are provided with a number of set projects where they respond to commercial-style design briefs. In addition, students are taught practical skills in drawing, print-making, typography, photography, image manipulation, layout design, and the production of ‘print-ready’ art work. Students are required to develop a critical understanding of the works of significant graphic artists through research and referencing. It is hoped that a number of exciting graphic works will be made during the course.

Year two starts in the summer term with a series of illustrated lectures on the history of visual communication. Students are required to write up their notes in their sketchbooks, and eventually to choose a topic for further personal research and study. This culminates in an  illustrated essay called the ‘Personal Investigation’. The first draft of this essay must be presented at the start of year 13 as a requirement of continuing the course. The final, professionally printed Personal Investigation must be completed at half term in October, along with a personal practical project that in some way links to the written study. For the remainder of the course, students are then expected to initiate ideas around their own personal interests and complete a series of graphic art works that relate to each other. The emphasis is very much on the students’ ability to work independently, liaise with staff, manage their time well and fully research and back up their ideas outside the lessons. At this level the teacher’s role switches from ‘instructor’ to ‘adviser and facilitator’. At the end of the course, students should have produced a high quality portfolio of graphic works.

Weekly commitment

4-5 hours class time plus the same for homework per week.


The introduction to portfolio development for year one is the Induction Project. Sharnbrook students can find this on student curriculum. Students from other schools can get copies of the task from the Sixth Form.


Year one is not assessed, but each project is internally marked to create a profile of student achievement. There may be opportunity for a mock exam in the summer term as a test of learning strengths, ready for selecting areas of study in Year two.

Year Two is assessed in 2 parts

1. Personal Investigation: students produce a portfolio of work that evolves from their own interests, critical influences and skills. It includes a 1000 - 2000 word illustrated essay and gallery notebook to support their coursework, worth 60%

2. Externally set task is 15 hours and worth 40% of the final grade

Additional costs

  • glue sticks, marker pens, set of drawing pencils
  • A5 gallery notebook
  • memory stick, digital camera
  • a number of professionally printed final pieces as the course progresses

Career Prospects

Many of our students achieve direct entry on to a variety of specialist art-based degree courses. Others prefer to do an Art Foundation course prior to deciding their specialism and applying for Higher Education. Students go on to work in a variety of areas in the creative industries, such as advertising, illustration, photography, book and magazine design, architecture, product design, stage and movie set design, website design, and graphic design.

For further information, contact:

Mr D Marsh