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This course will provide you with a broad introduction to traditional and digital photographic techniques and processes.

You will learn about the historical and contemporary influences within Photography as both an art form and commercial field. You will be set themed assignments and live briefs to help you build a creative and professional portfolio of varied styles of photography and digital image manipulation.

You will be taught in our Photography Suite with access to the studio and darkroom. You will have the opportunity to visit national and international places of interest for research purposes.

View our Visual Arts Showcase 2020.


Year 1

In your first year you will develop your skills. There are seven to eight different assignments that cover all the techniques and process needed to succeed in your second year. You will learn; how to develop ideas and concepts in response to given briefs and themes, how to gather relevant research to guide and inform your project and how to use industry-standard software and traditional design processes to develop, refine and achieve outcomes of professional standard and quality.

Year 2

In your second year you will begin to specialise through two modules.

Module 1 Personal Investigation (60% of overall mark): This is a practical project you will set yourself. Although guided and supported by your Teacher throughout and informed by the experience gained during Year 1 of the course, you will decide and determine which direction you want to take your major second year project in. This coursework only project contains a written component, which is equivalent to an academic essay.

Module 2 Externally-Set Assignment (40% of overall mark): The awarding body (OCR) will provide a set of seven exam themes, from which you will choose one to respond to. This practical, coursework based unit is approximately nine weeks long and concludes in a 15 hour exam.

You will need (or equivalent to);

  • GCSE Mathematics grade 4/C or above
  • GCSE English Language or Literature grade 4/C or above
  • plus three more GCSEs grade 4/C or above

It is recommended (within the above) you have:

  • a GCSE grade 5 in a creative subject but it is not essential.

With the exception of a 15 hours exam which concludes the second year, all work is practical and coursework based.

All work is assessed once projects have been submitted for the given deadline, with constructive and detailed feedback being provided to assist the improvement of coursework and the further refinement of skills.

Students have gone onto university to study a range of creative subjects, including Graphic Design, Visual Communication, Illustration, Fine Art, Media, Marketing, Animation, Photography, Web Design, Product Design, Interior Design and Architecture. Others have chosen Foundation courses in Art or a National Diploma in a design subject. Alternatively many pursue Apprenticeships in the creative industries.

What equipment do I need and what will it cost?

This can be quite a costly subject and it is important to consider this when choosing the course. You will need a 35 mm Digital SLR camera. It must have the following features:

  • Ability to shoot in FULLY manual mode, allowing shutter speed, Apertures and ISO to be changed independently of each other
  • Minimum of 12 MP
  • Interchangeable lens(es)
  • Hotshoe – for attaching flash accessories.

Please get in touch with us if you aren’t sure if your camera is suitable. We don’t recommend particular makes but we do advise that you buy second-hand, preferably from an outlet that offers guarantees!

You may also wish to use a 35mm SLR film camera.

You will be expected to buy film and photographic paper as well as paying for digital printing, sketchbooks, mounting materials and so on. We sell a kit in September that includes core materials required. This costs £60 and is avaliable in week one of the course.

Are there many opportunities in the Creative Industries?

The Creative Industries have moved into first place to be the fastest-growing economic sector in the UK, responsible for 5.6% of jobs, and worth £76.9bn to the UK industry. Organisations now pay great attention to their visual profiles, what product or service doesn’t use an image in some way? There are many careers in which Photography A Level will be of benefit to you and your result will be valued by universities.