A Level
2 years
Curriculum Manager: 
Amanda Bollini

What is Photography?

Photography has an increasingly important role to play in the modern world with many industrial and commercial applications. It is one of the most effective methods of communication and is a powerful medium for the presentation and exchange of ideas, whether in such areas as marketing, advertising or photo-journalism. This, together with its potential as an art form in its own right, and the continued development of new techniques, including electronic imaging, makes it an excellent area for study.

If you are interested in photography, even though you may never have studied it before, and wish to develop your skills through practical hands-on experience, then this course could be for you. Many students find photography a refreshing and challenging area of study that gives you the opportunity to gain a good A Level grade in a subject you enjoy.

The course will emphasise photography as a creative medium and will be taught primarily as a practical subject, although aspects of photographic technology, theory and history will also be covered. In the first year you will learn about the basic techniques, theories and principles of black and white photography and have a basic introduction to the use of digital SLR cameras and instruction on using Adobe Photoshop CC. You will learn to use a wide range of photographic processes and equipment incorporating studio, darkroom and general camera technique, enabling you to create your own photographic imagery in response to the various project themes. You will explore the world of advertising, fashion, photo-journalism, social documentary and many other commercial applications of photography.

During the course we organise trips to visit photographic exhibitions in London, location trips for a day of photography, and a trip abroad. Past trips have been to Italy, Iceland, Morocco, Cuba and Beijing, Vienna and Budapest.

Is Photography suitable for me?

For many students photography becomes an obsession! Many students find the practical nature of the course fascinating. Once you have seen your own photographs develop in the darkroom you are hooked. But don’t forget you will also have to document technical information and critically analyse your practical project work in your work journals, researching and exploring the work of other photographers and artists.

How will I learn?

All lessons will take place in the specialist photographic teaching rooms, IT suite, darkroom and studios. Whilst most lessons will be practical you will also be studying and discussing the work of other artists and photographers looking at slides and other visual reference material. You will work on a series of projects each lasting from 3 to 5 weeks and each introducing you to new processes and different topics. Sufficient basic and specialist equipment is available for use during the course although you may find it advantageous to have access to a 35mm film SLR camera and a digital compact or SLR camera, in order to expand learning and to pursue work outside College.

You are encouraged to develop your interests further through extended project work and personal study: 4 to 5 hours private study per week is expected.

How will I be assessed?

Component 1: Personal investigation (60% of A Level)

Component 2: Externally set assignment with 15 hour controlled test (40% of A Level)

Each assessed unit will include developmental work and research completed in a work journal together with high quality finished outcome photographs. These can be presented on a final board, in a book and as a digital slide show.

The personal investigation will be a written and illustrated piece of research on a photography related topic of your own choosing.


A Level Photography is unique in exploring and combining many aspects of the arts, science and technology in one course. You can pursue the subject further through a range of specialised HND and degree courses at Art College and university in such areas as media, film, video and animation, as well as still photography.

Ben achieved a Grade A in Photography and went on to read English.

Alex also acquired a grade A in Photography, completed her Foundation course in Art and a degree in Photography and Fine Art from Falmouth College of Arts.

Ollie also gained a Grade A in Photography and continued his studies at Alton on the Art Foundation course before moving on to and graduating from the School of Art, Media and Design at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham.

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C.

As with all A Levels the most important requirements for success are commitment and enthusiasm. We do not expect you to have practical experience in photography but if you are a creative person and have an interest in the visual world and media this course could be for you. Please be aware that there is much written work and plenty of research and experimentation to be undertaken. The course is not just about taking photographs.

You should normally have achieved a Grade C in a creative or technical subject.

Course costs

Essential project costs: Photographic consumables per project are approximately £15 and these can be purchased from the departments shop at educational prices.

Essential materials: Students are encouraged to purchase a student pack at the start of the course. Photographic starter packs will be available from the department, varying in price from £30 to £40 at the beginning of the course.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

Course Code

OCR H603



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