A Level

Course Entry Requirements

Five A* – C grades at GCSE including a grade 5/C at GCSE English Language.

Students wanting to take Photography should have a L2 qualification in Art and Design, either at least a grade C at GCSE or a BTEC certificate Merit. If they have no L2 experience students should bring a portfolio of work with them to their interview for us to assess whether they can be accepted onto the course.

If you are interested in joining the College we will arrange a meeting with an experienced subject counsellor who will help you to choose courses that best suit your ambitions and achievements.

All entry requirement details are correct at the time of publication, September 2018, however, the College may need to make some changes by September 2019 in the light of student demand, staff availability and external factors beyond the College’s control.


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What will I study?

We start the course by learning how to use the camera properly and how great photographers make their work.  You will work from a range of themes to develop art from your photographs. You will look at how photography is art by exploring contemporary and traditional approaches by artists, writing extended comments on their work.  You then learn how to develop your own responses to a chosen theme through sketchbook work which leads to final outcomes.

For A Level Photography you will produce a set of work over a period of 18 months that respond to a range of starting points which builds into a “personal investigation” of a theme that is worth 60% of your final grade. The start of course will allow you to explore a range of ways of working with photography and you will develop your skills in digital approaches as well as traditional darkroom photography.

There is a written element to accompany the personal investigation which explores your ideas further. This personal investigation unit accounts for 60% of the grade in the final year.

The externally set assignment is 40% of the grade and is theme based also. These themes are set by AQA and you will develop ideas to a final outcome produced in 15 hours of focused work.

What skills do I need?

  • The ability to use books and not just the internet for research
  • The ability to follow instructions, but be able to adapt your own ideas to them
  • The ability to organise your independent study time to complete your work

Examining Board


Why should I study this course?

Photography offers us so many ways to comment on and explore the world around us. In a world that needs images everyday studying Photography opens up lots of possibilities for you to become part of a continually expanding and changing industry, or maybe just give you the opportunity to be able to create more effective and meaningful images for yourself. Studying Photography allows you to do this without always getting messy, along with providing you with the skills to reinvent yourself as creative individuals in a continually and rapidly changing world. If you enjoy Photography and generally being creative with your ideas you will find new opportunities to develop your skills and ideas around themes chosen by you. Photography is a relatively new form of art. It has only been with us for 200 years, so there is still plenty to explore in new and creative ways. You will certainly experience lessons that are unlike any other subject!

How is the course assessed?

Coursework units are internally marked and externally moderated. Work is marked to assessment objectives very similar to art and design specifications at GCSE in that you do not receive marks for individual pieces of work but instead for how you develop your unit of work by responding to what you see other photographers and artists doing. In this way the unit is marked as a set of work at the end, including the final outcome. In this way it is much better to work consistently throughout the whole course and make sure all work is as complete as possible. Your work is marked each week. You cannot cram all the work in at the end of the course like revision based subjects.

What will this course prepare me for?

A qualification in Art/Photography gives you a route into areas of creative design work or more specialised photographic careers. Each year £80 billion is generated by creative people in the Art and Design industry, so there is plenty of opportunity to find work after finishing your education. It will also give you an extra edge on others as a creative individual, which employers always want. The course is an excellent way of preparing you for the Foundation Diploma at Wilberforce which will guide you to the best HE course for you.

Private Study

At least 4 hrs of independent study each, our studios are always open for you to work in your study time. You will be given advice on what to do during your independent study time but it will involve tasks such as reading, preparing for your lessons and continuing to develop your sketchbook work in progress. You will also be expected to access our VLE on a regular basis to support your learning and collect resources via Pinterest.

What materials will I need to provide?

You can buy a starter pack of equipment from us at the start of term along with a sketchbook. You will have access to a wide variety of resources on Moodle including links to exam board’s specifications, useful website links, video and text resources.  You are expected to provide your own basic art materials including basic drawing materials.  There are extensive resources available from the library that you can borrow but there is a list of recommended background reading on Moodle if you wish to purchase some of your own.

How will I be taught?

You will have 4 lessons each week where you will experience a mixture of discussion and practical experimental tasks early in the course. You will be expected to show that you can explore a technique or an approach in your own work after you have learnt it. As the course develops lessons become more focused on your own individual work. We work both digitally and in the darkroom as you progress through the course.

A Level Photography is for you if:

If you enjoy hard work, do not mind getting messy occasionally, enjoy seeing new approaches in art and questioning why things are the way they are. You will enjoy it if you like making things and if you want an additional subject that is more challenging than your other ones.

A Level Photography is not for you if:

You think that it will be just taking a few photographs – but ask our students – it’s demanding and hard work. You will not enjoy it if you have a good camera at the moment, but it is kept under your bed and never gets used.