Higher Art Expressive Essay

The Advanced Higher Art Course provides opportunities for learners to develop their creativity, visual awareness and aesthetic understanding while exploring how to communicate their personal thoughts, ideas and opinions through their expressive art work.

Advanced Higher Art (Expressive) gives students the opportunity to extend and apply the expressive art skills they have developed in the Higher Art and Design Course.  It enables learners to demonstrate independence and creative decision making when developing and realising their creative ideas.

The aims of the Course are to enable learners to:

  • experience an independent, self-directed study of expressive art and art practice
  • develop personal autonomy, creativity, independent thinking and evaluative skills when responding to stimuli and creating their own expressive art work
  • develop individual self-expression and creativity through their considered exploration and use of art materials, equipment, techniques and/or technology
  • develop the higher-order thinking skills required to analyse, synthesise, and critically respond to and understand the impact of expressive art work
  • develop advanced critical thinking skills, reaching substantiated informed judgements when refining and presenting lines of visual enquiry and development

Entry Requirements  – Higher Art & Design

Attendance – Six periods each week (independent study will be required in addition to this. There is a studio space that is available to S6 Art and Design students at all times during the day)

The Advanced Higher Art (Expressive) course consists of two mandatory Units and the Course Assessment. The mandatory unit work is collated in learner’s sketchbooks and retained by the school for verification purposes. The course assessment consists of a portfolio and an essay. These are submitted to the SQA and form the basis for grading attainment in the full course award.

Unit 1: Expressive Studies – In this Unit, learners will work in a self-directed manner to research and investigate the working practices and creative approaches of others. The research and investigation will be based on a personally chosen area of art. Learners will critically analyse artists’ work and practice, evaluating and reaching substantiated judgements about the work itself and the contexts which influenced the work.

Unit 2: Expressive Enquiry – This Unit helps learners to work independently in a self-directed manner to plan, develop and produce developmental lines of enquiry and creative art work. Learners will select stimuli and establish a personal focus to the enquiry, using their understanding of art work and practice to inspire and influence their own creative approach and work. They will experiment with using materials, techniques, composition and/or technology where appropriate to realise their ideas in 2D and/or 3D formats and independently evaluate their design work and practice.

Course Assessment- PORTFOLIO (100 marks)

Component 1 —Expressive Portfolio: 60 marks

Critical Analysis: 30 marks

Evaluation: 10 marks  

The purpose of this portfolio is to assess the learner’s ability to integrate and apply practical art skills and in-depth knowledge and understanding of expressive art practice across the Course. Learners will select one or more examples of their earlier expressive investigative and development work and use this as a basis for developing and producing pieces of highly resolved expressive art work.

The choice of expressive stimuli for the Art and Design (Expressive): Expressive Enquiry Unit/portfolio will be selected by the individual learner and approved by the centre. The portfolio will include:

  • the initial creative starting point for the expressive ideas and further development work
  • highly resolved piece(s) of expressive art work
  • supporting evidence of critical analysis (essay) and evaluation

This portfolio will give learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding:

  • the ability to identify the expressive development potential in their work
  • assured and skilled use of a variety of art materials, techniques and/or technology
  • applied understanding of art work and practice informed by in-depth investigation and analysis of art work and practice
  • personal creativity through the development of sustained line(s) of expressive enquiry
  • the ability to create compositions and resolved art work(s) in 2D and/or 3D formats
  • visual problem solving, planning and evaluation skills
  • the ability to review, edit and present their work for assessment.

Unit Assessment – All Units are internally assessed. This involves sampling the skills, knowledge and understanding of learners demonstrated through their sketchbook work. There are two opportunities within the year to sit the assessment. Assessment is recorded as a Pass/Fail by the school and moderated by the SQA. Both these units must pass internal verification in order to be presented for the full Advanced Higher course award.

Course Assessment – The course assessment is made up of one component. The Expressive portfolio which is the main body of practical work along with an accompanying critical analysis and evaluation. The portfolio is externally assessed by SQA. The expressive portfolio is worth 60 marks out of a total of 100 marks available for this Course. The critical analysis essay is worth 30 marks and the evaluation of students work is worth 10 marks.

The practical work contributes approximately 60% of the overall marks for the Course assessment. The Course will be graded A–D.

Prelim Examination – Learners will not sit a a final exam or prelim examination for this course award. This is a portfolio based assessment.

Ongoing formative assessment will take place in the classroom. This continuous process of discussion of both practical and written work is an essential part of the learning and teaching process in Art and Design.

Advanced Higher candidates will carry out a more formal learner’s conversation at various times within the year. This is an opportunity for learners to discuss with staff what their strengths and weaknesses are within their course work. It allows them to formulate an action plan to raise their attainment and ensure that they meet the requirements for a full course award.

Reporting to parents is in line with the school calender of tracking, reporting and parent evenings.


Part 1 –


Part 2 – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FGX2P5W


In order to complete your Design Unit you must fully complete the Design Brief and Evaluation attached below.
Your Design Brief and Evaluation is worth 8 marks out of the 80 which up for grabs in your Design Unit so you must make sure you complete the task to the best of your ability. Every single mark counts!

To help you complete this task you will find SQA completion notes and a very good Design Brief and Evaluation which was submitted by a past student.




Jamie Snedden Design Evaluation



Important revision : The Visual Elements.

Being able to discuss the ‘VISUAL ELEMENTS’ is very important when you are working on your analyses for your exam. Here is a help sheet to revise so that you are absolutely clear on how to discuss the visual elements:

Explaining The Visual Elements


Here are some critical studies help sheets:

Analysing a piece of Fashion and Textiles Design


Content Form Process Mood

Critical Studies revision checklist 5thyr

Expressive Essay Help Sheet

Vincent Van Gogh Factsheet

Picasso Factsheet

Matisse Factsheet

matisse and textiles

Cezanne Factsheet

Ben Nicholson Factsheet

Banksy Factsheet int2

Cezanne Factsheet int2

Picasso Factsheet int2

Banksy Factsheet

Look on the Standard Grade page for the ‘how to analyse‘ helpsheets on the different design disciplines.


Some Examples of Higher Grade full Expressive units. The Intermediate 2 and Higher grade expressive unit is comprised of one A2 sheet of analytical studies in a variety of media, One A2 sheet of developmental composition studies in a variety of media and one final piece no larger than A2 size.

An Exemplar Design Unit with Graphic Design:

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