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Why study Art and Design - Photography?

Photography is increasingly popular as an AS and A Level choice. It provides the perfect opportunity to learn to produce work at a professional standard, at the same time as encouraging the exploration of photography as an artistic medium. It combines well with more traditional subjects, providing an outlet for creativity. If nothing else Photography will provide students with a skill, they can use throughout their lives.

What does the course cover and what is expected of you?

Students will be introduced to the various aspects of Traditional and Digital Photography through a series of workshops, lectures, critiques, seminars and tutorials. A 35 mm single lens camera is supplied in both film and digital format. Lessons take place in the classroom and studio which includes a fully-equipped darkroom. The students will also have access to Apple Mac computers and use the industry standard Adobe Photoshop software to create and manipulate their images as well as use a well-equipped Darkroom and Photographic Studio.

You will be expected to produce some work both of an academic and practical nature in your own time. In addition, you will be expected to attend a tutorial programme to monitor the development of your work. In A Level study you should expect to spend 5-8 hours a week on work outside the classroom. Their experience of other people’s work allows students to explore the historical, social and technical aspects of photography, forming a basis for the work journals, which are an integral part of coursework. As part of their course, students are expected to take photographs in a variety of settings, including open-air locations. They may be instructed to search out suitable settings /locations for photographs outside the school.  

Regular trips will be arranged to both local and national photographic exhibitions. The students may also get an opportunity to exhibit their own work in galleries that have public access. There is the possibility of an international Photographic study trip in Year 13.

Where can it take you?

Photography can be a useful addition to a student’s portfolio of qualifications and can also help to secure admission to Art College or University. The course could lead to a Foundation Course in Art and Design or HND and degree level courses in Photography, Film, Television or Media Studies.

Entry requirements

Although there is no formal requirement to have studied Photography before embarking on an A Level course, it helps to have an informed interest in the subject. You do not need to have studied GCSE Photography to undertake this course, however you must have a willingness to work very hard.

Courses assessment


  • Component 1 - Portfolio of work (60% of final marks)
  • Component 2 - Externally set assignment (40% of final marks)

A Level

  • Component 1 - Personal Investigation (60% of final marks)
  • Component 2 - Externally set assignment (40% of final marks)

Non-examination assessments set and marked by the centre and moderated by AQA.

Exam Board


Student View

'Photography is a subject that I have found very interesting. Learning how to develop a film and make black and white prints from it was amazing, I had only seen digital cameras before and this chemical/wet approach was exciting. Seeing how photographic projects can be put together and how they can change direction was all new to me and I didn’t know if I would be able to do it, but the more work we covered gave me new ideas and new levels of skill. I can now take photographs and not snap-shots.'


Teacher's Tip

Do not think that because you have not done any formal photography before that this is not a subject for you. I have seen students go from knowing nothing about it to making the decision of going to university and study it for a degree.

Cameras don't take pictures, photographers do. Cameras are just another artist's tool.

A camera catches your imagination. The word "image" comes from the word "imagination." It doesn't come from "lens sharpness" or "noise levels." And so as long as you do not fear the camera as a technical device you will be fine. Just about any camera, regardless of how good or bad it is, can be used to create outstanding photographs for magazine covers, winning photo contests and hanging in art galleries. The quality of a lens or camera has almost nothing do with the quality of images it can be used to produce. Fortunately, we do have good cameras also and if you wish to purchase your own that is something you can do at a later date.