Subject Information - Art & Design

National 5

Head of Department: Mr Nick Adair


Course Progression: Art and Design

Art and Design (S3/S4) National 5

The National 5 Art & Design course focuses on visual creativity, and empowering pupils to discover their individual strengths and skills. Pupils are encouraged to exercise imagination, express themselves confidently and persevere in solving problems. Students develop a high degree of independence, resilience and confidence in driving their ideas forward.  

To develop knowledge and understanding of art and design practice we regularly visit galleries, and invite artists and designers to conduct workshops and lectures. We think this enhances pupils’ ability to critically appreciate aesthetic and cultural values.


In S3 pupils experience a wide variety of expressive art and design areas. They experiment with materials, develop ideas and refine skills, with each step moving closer toward discovering their strength and potential. For example, their projects may include: portraiture, still life, landscape, sculpture, digital imaging, graphic design, architecture, interior design, fashion design and jewellery design.


In S4 students have the opportunity to fully develop the strengths and potential identified in S3 by creating two portfolio’s: an Expressive Art Portfolio (worth 40%), and a Design Portfolio (worth 40%).

Pupils also sit a written Question Paper (worth 20%) allowing them to show their analytical skills, knowledge and understanding of Art & Design practice.

Expressive Portfolio

This practical portfolio allows pupils to explore and express their thoughts and ideas in visual form. Pupils select a theme and produce analytical drawings, paintings and mixed media studies, eventually producing a final artwork which will be exhibited in our annual exhibition.

Design Portfolio

This practical portfolio allows pupils to plan, research and develop creative design work in response to a design brief. Pupils develop their imagination, problem solving and critical thinking skills as they consider design concepts, and persevere to resolve issues and constraints. The design portfolio is finally realised through the production of a final outcome, which may be a graphic design, an architectural model, a fashion design, or a jewellery design.


Head of Department: Mr Nick Adair

Course Progression: Art and Design

Art and Design (S5/S6) Higher

This course is a broad-based qualification that encourages pupils to exercise imagination and creativity. It is suitable for pupils with a general interest in art and design, and for those wanting to progress onto higher levels of study. There are opportunities for personalisation and choice in both expressive and design contexts. This makes it highly flexible, as it can be contextualised to suit pupils’ needs and aspirations. At this level, pupils will show increasing personal autonomy and creative decision making when agreeing the content and context of their work.

Recommended Entry

GCSE or National 5 Art and Design grade A-B or equivalent.

Course Structure

As with National 5, the portfolio is split into two separate portfolios; one for expressive and one for design. The portfolios involve a complete creative process – investigation and research, the development of one idea, a final outcome and evaluation.

Critical studies teaching and visits to Galleries and Museums are integrated into the course to support the question paper

Course assessment 

Component 1: portfolio (200 marks) 77%
They will producing one final piece of expressive art and one design solution. Each portfolio will be worth 100 marks each (38.5%)

Component 2: question paper (60 marks) 23%
The purpose of this question paper is to critically analyse and respond to examples of art and design work. The course assessment is graded A–D. The grade is determined on the basis of the total mark 260.

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Advanced Higher

Head of Department: Mr Nick Adair

Course Progression: Art and Design

Art and Design (S5/S6) Advanced Higher

In S6 Students can opt for either Expressive (Fine Art: painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, mixed and lens based media) or Design (Architecture, Graphics, Fashion and Textiles). Entry onto these courses are dependent on gaining a grade B or above at Higher. Any pupil wishing to take this subject without the recommended entry requirement will need to talk to the Head of Department.

These Advanced Higher Courses have been designed to allow increasing personalisation and choice for pupils and would suit any pupils wishing to apply for careers in architecture, fine art, design and history of art, as well as pupils that have a genuine passion for the visual arts.

Pupils’ creative work will allow them to extend and develop their creative experience in a more focused manner than at lower levels. Students should be self-directed and are expected to work more independently at this level.

To achieve a pass in the Advanced Higher Course, learners must successfully complete both Units and the Course assessment.

Students begin their course with two research units that can be linked by a common theme. These Units are internally assessed and do not contribute to the final portfolio grade.

The Course assessment follows and will consist of a portfolio that develops one idea from the research unit. The portfolio will be externally assessed.

The portfolio will consist of between 8-15 sheets of work and will be marked out of 100.

  • The practical art or design work. (60% of the total overall marks)
  • The critical analysis up to 1700 words (30% of the total overall marks)
  • The evaluation (10% of the total overall marks)

There is no question paper for this subject.

Pupils wishing to study Art or Design at college or university level will need to take an additional portfolio preparation column to prepare for this type of application.

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Higher Photography (S6)

Head of Department: Mr Nick Adair

Course Progression: Art and Design

Higher Photography (S6)

The course is suitable for all pupils with an interest in photography. It is suitable for pupils with a general interest in the subject and for those wanting to progress to higher levels of study. The learning experiences in the course are flexible and adaptable, with opportunities for personalisation and choice. Pupils would be expected to have a proven interest in photographic media and image making. Previous experience in studying the visual arts is advisable but not essential.

The course assessment has two components: 

The Project (100 marks)

This is 77% of the overall marks for the course assessment. Pupils plan and carry out a selected practical photography project. They research and investigate their project topic. Drawing on this material, they develop their own creative response by carrying out practical photographic work. From this development work, candidates select and present a series of 12 images which communicate the project topic. Pupils also evaluate the effectiveness of their photographic work and practice.

The project allows pupils to demonstrate their ability to work independently and is sufficiently open and flexible to allow personalisation and choice.

Candidates agree the project topic together with their teacher and when completed is submitted to SQA for external marking.

The question paper (30 marks)

This is 23% of the overall marks for the course assessment. The question paper has two sections: 

  1. Section 1: Multiple choice It contains 10 multiple choice questions.
  2. Section 2: Analysis Which ask candidates to critically analyse two unseen photographic images from a range of genres and styles.

The question paper is set and marked by SQA, and conducted in centre under conditions specified for external examinations by SQA. Candidates have 1 hour to complete the question paper.

The course assessment is graded A–D on the basis of the total mark for both Project and Question paper assessment components.

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Portfolio (S6)

Head of Department: Mr Nick Adair

Course Progression: Art and Design

Portfolio Art and Design

Course Summary

This non certificate course will provide practical support for pupils considering applying for a university or college course in Art, Design or Architecture and other related creative subjects. Primarily designed to be taken alongside the Advanced Higher or crash Higher Art and Design at S6, this course is also available to pupils not applying to art school but wishing to develop their understanding of the visual arts.

Pupils will undertake a series of practical projects, which will encourage using drawing and research to expand and develop personal ideas exploring a range of techniques and skills. Centered on drawing, pupils will learn how to examine and develop visual ideas through a variety of 2D and 3D media and methods. Pupils will be encouraged to solve problems creatively through research and practice and develop a greater sense of critical awareness.

An integral component of the course is resourcing and exploring ideas through independent sketchbook work.

The course will look at ways to integrate art practices, research and contextual awareness through a series of development works suitable for presentation for the online portfolios well as preparation of a portfolio to take to interview. Advice will be given on how to record work digitally and how pupils can showcase strengths and main interests. Emphasis will be placed on ways to select, edit and present the work suitable for a portfolio presentation. Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques.

Content of Course

The course will cover:

  • Visits to Museums and Galleries.
  • Recording and evidencing work through the creative use of sketchbooks.
  • Observational drawing focusing on space, negative space and form.
  • Experimentation with mixed media (collage, paint, graphite, oil bar) to explore the mark-making potential of different drawing implements and their suitability for different subject matter and scales of working.
  • How to develop reflective practice and a personal style.
  • How to demonstrate skills both technical ability and creativity. 
  • How to develop a personal Narrative when preparing a portfolio.
  • Life drawing in the studio.
  • Preparing a personal statement
  • Select and edit work for both the digital on-line application submission and to develop a portfolio ready for interview.

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Departments Page The Arts