Art and Design - Photography

Art Design2

Click on the image above to find out more about studying A level photography.

A Level Photography

Exam board: OCR

Who is it for?
Creative students who are enthusiastic about art and image-making and are interested in the practical and academic study of photography. This course is suitable for students who wish to pursue further education or careers in the visual arts.

Entry requirements
In addition to the general entrance requirements, the department requires grade 4 or above in a GCSE art and design subject.
Photography can be combined with an A level in fine art or graphic communication.

Course content
This is two-year practical and academic course.

In year 12, teaching staff set projects that aim to build technical skills in a variety of photographic practices. This includes traditional darkroom-based processes such as photograms, homemade pinhole cameras, and black and white film developing and printing. Students also learn studio lighting techniques as well as becoming proficient in Adobe Photoshop. Students are expected to take photographs on location as well as in the studio as they undertake tasks on photojournalism, landscape, portraiture and still life.
In addition, there will be a number of written essays on the contextual and critical history of photography throughout the first two terms. In term 3, students choose a topic for extended personal research and analysis. This culminates in a 2000 word illustrated essay called the ‘related study’.

In year 13, students are expected to become more independent in their choice of projects and are encouraged to specialise in a particular field of photographic practice that links to the ‘related study’.
At the end of the course, students should have produced a high-quality portfolio of photographic projects

Weekly commitment
5 hours class time plus 5 hours outside of lessons.

Year 12
The practical work is internally assessed throughout the year. This work produced can form part of the portfolio presented at the end of year 13.

Year 13
Coursework portfolio: a selection of the strongest work from the two years of the course is externally assessed - 60% of total grade (of which 20% is for the related study).
Controlled Test: Similar to GCSE Art courses with 15 hours exam time - 40% of total grade.

Equipment requirements
Students must provide the following:

• An SLR camera that uses film (i.e. not digital) with fully manual settings – needed for the beginning of the course in September.
• A digital camera with manual settings i.e.: SLR, bridge or high-end compact camera. (An iPhone or similar is not sufficient for this course)
• A tripod.
• Rolls of black and white film.
• A box of black and white photographic darkroom paper.
• An 8 GB USB memory stick.

The following is suggested, but is not a compulsory requirement:
• Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Available with student discount as a monthly subscription from

In addition, students will need to pay for some colour digital printing at the end of the course. There also may be a trip to a London Art Gallery or degree shows.

Career Prospects

The quality of our students’ work is very high and students who wish to continue their art education are usually successful in their applications. In recent years our students have gained entry to degree courses in a wide variety of art disciplines, especially those relating to photography, filmmaking, digital arts, graphics, and architecture.
A number of students have gone straight into employment in photography after A level.

There are many ways a photographer can make a living including in such fields as press and photojournalism, fashion and celebrity, weddings and studio portraits, sports, music, landscape and travel, and food. Studio based advertising photography can be particularly lucrative.
Some of our previous students are now very successful.

For more information, please contact
Mr D Marsh