A Level: Photography

Course title: Advanced GCE in Art and Design: Photography

Exam board: AQA

Subject specific entry criteria: Grade 7 in either Art or Photography. Access to the course may be granted upon the production of a portfolio.

Course overview

Year 12 – Coursework portfolio

For this unit you are required to produce a portfolio of practical work. This will include recording ideas through photography. You will investigate the work of a range of artists and photographers, analysing how it relates to the development of your own ideas. Through workshops, you will have the opportunity to explore a wider variety of photographic media, techniques and processes. You will build on the technical information you explored during GCSE and learn how to shoot manually in order to fully express your ideas. You will consider different ways of responding to a given starting point and you will be encouraged to develop a personal outcome.

Year 12/13 – Component 1: Personal Investigation

For this unit you are required to use personal starting point(s) to produce a major project that shows your working through a range of photography experiences. You will include a personal study, related to your coursework theme, of between 1000 and 3000 words.

Component 2: Externally Set Assignment

From an early release paper you will choose one starting point. During the initial planning and preparation stage you will demonstrate ability to record, plan and develop ideas and complete a final response under controlled conditions in 15 hours.

Assessment overview

Component 1: Personal Investigation Assessment in June in Year 13 60% of A Level: 96 marks.

Component 2: Externally Set Assignment Assessment in June in Year 13 Preparation period approx. 10 weeks + 15 hours of supervised time 40% of A Level: 96 marks.

Future progression

Photography combines well with other creative A Level subjects and is an essential requirement for Photography courses at Art Colleges and Universities. There are many opportunities in our visually-conscious world for careers using the skills you will develop. If you wish to continue your studies post A Level, you could begin an undergraduate degree in Photography: lens-based and light-based media or Television/ Film. Alternatively, many students who wish to continue their creative education complete a year-long Foundation course. This gives you the opportunity to explore different disciplines such as painting, sculpture, graphics. photography and fashion before deciding on the most suitable degree course to develop your skills even further.

There are numerous creative degrees on offer as well as Photography based specialisms. During your A Level course we will ensure you find out what is out there. You could specialise in Photography or look at a course in Film Studies, Television or Film Production or Animation to name but a few. The competition for places on the best degree courses is fierce. You will submit a personal statement and an online portfolio prior to the offer of an interview. To give yourself the best chance of success you need to demonstrate that you are forward thinking, committed and highly skilled.

Potential careers

Studying photography enhances your creative, social and cultural understanding as well as developing your specialist technical knowledge.

Jobs directly relating to a Photography degree include, but are not restricted to: Portrait photographer, commercial photographer, fashion photographer, wildlife photographer, landscape photographer, editorial photographer, sports photographer, travel photographer, food photographer, scientific photographer, photojournalist/news photographer, freelance photographer, graphic designer, magazine features editor, television camera operator, advertising art director, digital marketer, film director, film/video editor, media planner, multimedia specialist, stylist, VFX artist, visual merchandiser, web content manager and web designer.

How to succeed in Photography

You will:

  • have excellent and refined photography skills and a commitment to developing these skills further
  • have an ability to research and develop a project independently and thoroughly
  • have a genuine interest in current exhibitions and artist/ photographers’ practice
  • be able to develop ideas and connect with current practice.