A level Graphic Communication course

Students in Ashbourne’s Art Faculty get the fantastic opportunity to experience a wide range of art and design activities before going on to specialise in their chosen A level subject.

During the first term students explore drawing, life drawing, printmaking, sculpture, digital art, photography, fabrics and textiles on a rotation basis. They will develop and broaden their technical skills and visual understanding throughout their first year enabling them to build up an impressive portfolio.

Graphics students then go on to explore how to express ideas and communicate powerful and persuasive messages visually through a combination of traditional art and new technology. Ashbourne’s excellent facilities enable students to try out cutting edge technology and advanced media to produce sophisticated and innovative work.

The European Art Trip is a real highlight for art and design students who get the chance to visit cultural hotspots like Paris, Barcelona and Vienna on a specially structured and expertly led tour over the Autumn half term. Students also visit a variety of galleries and museums in London and the UK throughout the course.

Why study A level Graphic Communication?

When you judge a book by its cover, choose a product because you have seen the ad, instantly recognise a company by its logo, (and everything it stands for), or go to an exhibition after seeing a poster then you are responding to visual messages – this is what graphic communication is all about.

Book covers, magazine spreads, advertising, brand logos, product packaging, animation, websites, film and television all rely on graphic communication to express ideas and communicate powerful and persuasive messages or information visually, using a combination of image, typography and layout. Targeting the audience to whom the messages and ideas are directed helps designers choose the appropriate approach, style or medium in order to maximise their impact.

With the explosion of digital media and the growing demand for designers and illustrators in this sector, as well as the wider commercial world, learning Graphic Communication is a key asset.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the AQA specification for A level Graphic Communication.

What is the course about?

As a part of Ashbourne’s mini-foundation programme students join the Art and Design carousel during their first term to experience a variety of art activities in rotation: Drawing, Life Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, Digital Art, Photography, Fabrics and Textiles. They begin to build up a dynamic portfolio, which constitutes 60% of the overall result. At the end of the first year students will complete an internal assessment and exam to ensure they attain a suitable standard to progress to A level for the second year.

Students continuing with Graphic Communication for A level will explore a broad range of design areas including advertising, branding, packaging design, design for print, motion graphics, animation, web design, film, television and video, and typography using a variety of traditional and new media techniques.

Students will develop a greater awareness of their audience and will learn how choosing an appropriate approach, style or medium can enable them to communicate their ideas more effectively. Students are challenged to find creative solutions to a series of design briefs that encourage them to respond to an issue, concept or idea. This helps to prepare them for independent study and the demands required for higher education.

By studying different styles and genres of images and artefacts, and their historical, social, environmental and cultural contexts, students will discover how ideas, feelings and meanings can be conveyed and interpreted.

Who teaches this course?

Jak Kirby

BA in Applied Arts (Photography) (Silapakorn University, Thailand)
Before coming to Ashbourne Jak worked in the advertising industry and as a television director in Thailand. Jak began teaching photography but has established a flourishing Graphics department within the Art Faculty over the many years she has been at the college. She has a particular interest in film production.

Beyond A level Graphic Communication

Graphics students hoping to go on to further education have an excellent choice of university courses. Many of our students get places at prestigeus art colleges including the London College of Communication, St. Martins, Chelsea and Camberwell, Slade (UCL), Ravensbourne, Westminster, Kingston and Brunel.

With your powers of visual persuasion and design you could style the latest phone app, produce graphics for the gaming industry, put together striking logos for major companies, design funky book covers, magazine spreads, cutting edge websites and much more. A level Graphic Communication offers a wide variety of career opportunities, especially in new media.

Suggested reading and resources


Treasure trove of every book imaginable on graphics, design, illustration, fashion, advertising and architecture. Branches in Covent Garden and Clerkenwell.

Publishes books on art, photography, design and contemporary culture.

Koenig Books
Independent bookshop specialising in art, architecture and photography with branches at the Serpentine Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery.

Gallery bookshops
You will find a wide range of art books at all the major galleries including the Design Museum, The National, The Portrait, Tate Britain and Modern and the Royal Academy.

Art news, reviews, views, events and comment from The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Design Museum
The Design Museum in Kensington is a trailblazer in contemporary design and architecture showcasing the work of innovative designers from Britain and the world.

London Design Guide
Comprehensive guide to the capital’s thriving design scene.

London Design Festival
Annual festival to celebrate and promote London as a leading light in design with hundreds of events and exhibitions across the design spectrum.

What’s on and where
TimeOut’s guide to art and design in London keeps you up to date with current and upcoming exhibitions at galleries across the city.