FAQs for AS & A Level Art and Design (9479)


What is the structure of the new (9479)?

  • Component 1 coursework
  • Component 2 externally set assignment
  • Component 3 personal investigation, A Level only.

The new AS level is assessed against new Assessment Objectives, there are fewer components and the volume and size of work has changed. This syllabus is not available to private candidates.

AS is available from 2019. A level is available from 2020.

For the A level, can you take all three components at the same time?

Candidates may sit all three components in one series, should they wish to.

Can candidates take Component 3: Personal Investigation only?

Candidates may take Component 3: Personal Investigation in one series, but they have to have already taken the AS. They may take it as part of a staged assessment route or they can take all three components at the same time (linear route).

How many areas of study must a student work in?

Students are expected to work in one area of study.

Can candidates present photography/digital media work?

Whilst candidates may present photography/digital media work, the work must be printed and submitted as a hard copy.

Alternatively candidates could enter the AS & A level Digital Media & Design (9481) syllabus which may be better suited to their specific course requirements. For AS & A Level Art and Design (9479) photography can be used as a method of research and development for any of the areas of study or as a specific media within Fine Art.

Can candidates send in sketchbooks?

Sketchbooks are no longer a requirement for this syllabus.

Can candidates submit work electronically?

You must submit the work on A2 sheets. High quality photographs of 3D work can be mounted on the sheets along with the supporting studies.

Why can’t candidates work a larger size than A2?

Candidates can work in any size and format but they must select work and present it on A2 sheets. They can photograph work and print the photographs and submit them along with their other two-dimensional work.

When and where can I get the Question paper from?

The Question Paper will be available from the School Support Hub and, if you have made an estimated entry, the DFD (Digital File Despatch).

The Question Paper will only be available in an electronic form and will be available to download from the School Support Hub on 1 January for the May/June series, 1 July for the October/November series.

How long do students have to prepare?

This will depend on when the centre hands out the QP to students and when the centre schedule the test.

Can we send the Question paper to students in an email?

Yes, once the paper is available for you to download, you can distribute it how you prefer. However, students must have a copy of the complete question paper.

How long is the preparatory period?

There is no set length as it depends when the centre passes the Question paper to students and when the centre sets the date for the test.

What are the test date windows for this syllabus?

You can schedule the test any time after the paper is released as long as the work is produced during the test window.

  • June series is 1 January 1 to 30 April
  • November series is 1 July 1 31 October

Does the test have to be completed on the same day?

The assessment can be held over several days, ideally consecutive days (excluding weekends). A maximum of four within a three week period.

Do students have to draw?

Drawing is part of communicating ideas, which is an essential skill in art and design. Students can use drawing at whatever level they are able to as a means of recording ideas and observations, developing ideas and communicating meaning and visual language.

Do students have to write anything?

It is not necessary to write anything, but students need to be able to record their ideas and observations. The creative work should explain the journey and the decisions the student has made without unnecessary annotations. Annotations can be useful to support visual evidence to explain what things have changed or what the student has been thinking and can be included where relevant.

Are there some materials that we cannot send?

There is a list of materials that you should not submit and you are advised to check with your local courier company and CITES website.

Glass must not be sent this includes glass as part of the art work, framed pictures, and canvases in frames. Mirrors, razor blades, sharp items, fur, blood, syringes, body fluids, needles, plaster, seeds, organic materials. Images of an obscene or disturbing nature should also not be sent.

Where do we get the themes for coursework from?

The teacher, in consultation with the student, will set appropriate themes. Teachers may want to look at past papers for possible themes – sample briefs and themes are available to download from the School Support Hub.

Can candidates bring their own objects into the examination room?

They can use the preparatory period to select relevant objects and make initial studies and plans of compositions and layout in their supporting studies.

What happens if a candidate finishes before the end of the examination?

If a candidate has finished before the full examination time, they may leave the examination without disturbing the other candidates. However, they will not be allowed back in the examination if they then decide to return later.

Do candidates have to be accompanied to the toilet during the examination?

Art and Design examinations are taken under examination conditions and standard invigilation requirements apply. Arrangements should be in place for supervised rest breaks, please refer to the Cambridge Handbook here for more information.

The syllabus says trimming and mounting of work do not have to be part of the exam, but that we have to send the work to Cambridge after the exam. When can my students trim and mount their photographs?

We do not require work to be mounted and pieces should not be framed. Any trimming and mounted (on paper not board) should be completed as soon as possible after the exam and the work must be held securely after the exam (e.g. while it is drying) before being despatched to Cambridge.

Can candidates use drawing software from tablets, laptops and mobile devices?

We recommend that for all students using drawing software, they include screenshots showing the layers, tools or filters they have used when putting together their supporting studies. All sources should be referenced such as websites and images.
Before candidates start the timed test, all devices must be checked to make sure that the work has not been produced ahead of the examination and that it is the students own work. At the end of each session (half day, full day) the device must be retained at the Centre under secure conditions.

My student wants to use Photoshop and drawing software for their graphic design work, is that allowed, it doesn’t say anything in the syllabus?

The syllabus doesn’t specify any software but you can use whatever you think is the most suitable for the task, depending on the resources available at your centre.

My candidate wants to make a film/submit their work digitally, how can they do this?

Candidates wishing to produce work in a digital format should be entered onto AS and A Level Digital Media and Design (9481).

How many sheets can the learner submit for the Personal Investigation (component 3)?

The current syllabus (2019 -2021) does not stipulate an amount of A2 sheets to submit for Component 3, although we set a word limit and ask students to present the work into an integrated and cohesive presentation.

For the revised syllabus for 2022-2025 we have added ‘up to 8 A2 sheets’ as guidance. This is the maximum size and volume for submission. Students can choose to work in any size and media throughout the course and this will depend on their choice of study. However, they must present their work no larger than A2 (no USBs or CDs) and no more than 8 sheets. This advice is applicable to submissions from 2020.

Please note: the Personal Investigation should not been seen as two separate parts (practical and written) – it should be integrated and cohesive. The practical work and written elements should inform and support each other. It is not a repeat of component 2, but is in-depth and goes beyond the requirements of component 2.

Students may produce work during the course that is larger than A2, three-dimensional or an installation project, or land art. However, their submission must be presented on A2 sheets, so they will need to photograph work as necessary. We do not accept USBs, CDs or web-based links or applications.

For more information and guidance we have produced a variety of different support material. We are offering a new on-line training course here.

The School Support Hub also enables teachers to access a wealth of support material.

Here you will find:

  • the new Scheme of work
  • Learner Guide for 2020
  • Course Handbook for 2020

Finally, we have new published resources endorsed by Cambridge International. 

For more information and materials on this syllabus, please visit our School Support Hub here.

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request