Subject specific vocabulary

The following subject specific vocabulary provides definitions of key terms used in our A-level Art and Design 7201-7206 and AS 7241-7246 specifications. Your students should be familiar with, and gain understanding, of all these terms.


Written notes alongside practical work which can help to make intentions clear, explain thinking and how and why choices and decisions were made. Annotation may also include information about technical processes.

Assessment criteria

Key terms which match and identify levels of achievement in relation to the AQA standards.

Assessment Objectives

The four Assessment Objectives cover all aspects in the investigation, development, refining and recording of ideas which lead to the realisation of intentions. The AOs connect with each other and overlap. Students are required to address all four Assessment Objectives in both components.

Contextual sources

Appropriate work by other artists, designers and/or photographers. Contextual sources may include examples of architecture, or objects and artefacts from different times, cultures and places, or relevant examples of literature or music. References to contextual sources should inform the investigation and development of ideas. They can help to develop students’ understanding of Art and Design and enable them to develop their own personal language.

Candidate record form (CRF)

The candidate record form includes a declaration of authenticity signed by the student and counter-signed by the teacher. It is also a record of the marks assigned by the teacher for each Assessment Objective and may include teacher comments.

Exploring materials, processes and techniques

Exploring in a purposeful and meaningful manner, media, materials, processes and techniques, which are appropriate to the student’s intentions.

Externally set assignment

Students will produce a personal response to a starting point provided by AQA. At A-level the question paper includes a choice of eight starting points. At AS there are five starting points. At the end of the course there is a period of supervised time in which students produce finished work under exam conditions.

Investigating and developing ideas

The process of selecting a starting point, identifying and selecting appropriate sources, and analysing, exploring and responding to them in a focused and sustained manner in order to develop ideas with clear intentions.


A sample of work selected from both components produced at the school or college is seen by an AQA Moderator who checks the accuracy of teachers’ marking in relation to the AQA standards. The purpose of this is to ensure that, in fairness to all students, the same standard is applied to everyone.


At AS, Component 1 is a portfolio which includes at least one extended personal project. The portfolio may include additional work such as carefully selected examples of introductory tasks or assignments or work produced in a life drawing class, a workshop or gallery visit.

Personal Investigation

At A-level, Component 1 is a personal investigation in response to an idea, issue or theme.

Personal response

Students are required to produce a personal response to a starting point which may be an idea, an issue or a theme. Students will present a personal and meaningful response which realises their intentions.

Preparatory work

Preparatory work is all the work produced which leads to the finished outcome(s). Preparatory work for the externally set assignment must stop by the start of the first period of supervised time and cannot be worked on between sessions.

Realisation of intentions

Intentions can be realised in a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes. Intentions can also be realised at key points in the work. For example, in a working drawing, a design sheet or storyboard, in a model or maquette.


Recording ideas, observations and insights is an important element of the work. Recording in appropriate forms includes drawings, diagrams, images, samplers, maquettes and models, and may also include audio and video. Additional evidence of recording can be provided in annotation.

Critical reflection

Critical reflection enables students to move forward the investigation and development of ideas. Evidence of reflection on work and progress can be provided in the practical work and in written material. In the practical work, students demonstrate their ability to reflect, in the ways that one image leads to another and in the connections between images.


The materials students need to produce their work.

Reviewing and refining ideas

It is important to review ideas as they develop, which means identifying what has worked successfully and making decisions about moving the work forward. Exploring relevant media and techniques, and alternative compositions or layouts, should enable students to refine or improve their ideas leading to the realisation of intentions.


Sketchbooks, workbooks and journals can be used for preparatory work. Some students produce preparatory work entirely in sketchbooks. Others also work on paper or other surfaces which enable them to work on a larger scale. Some students prefer to work entirely on paper and present their work on mounted sheets. Electronic sketchbooks are often used entirely or in combination with printed images in photography and in graphic communication.

Specialist vocabulary

The vocabulary of art and design including the visual language of formal elements, line, tone, colour, form, volume, mass, contour, space, texture, composition. Includes, where appropriate, technical terms used in particular media and processes, for example, in printmaking, textiles and photography. Refers to both practical and written work.

Supervised time

At the end of the externally set assignment there is a period of supervised time in which students produce finished work under exam conditions. At A-level, the supervised period is 15 hours. At AS, it is 10 hours. The period will be spread over several days, at times determined by the teacher.

Written material

Refers to annotation where it is included, and to the required written material in A-level Component 1 Personal Investigation.