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Photography A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

If you enjoy creating photographic images, then the photography course will stretch and challenge you by providing an opportunity to engage in projects that encourage creativity, investigation, analysis and experimentation as a means of developing technical and expressive skills. The course encourages the development of your own visual language while improving your knowledge and understanding of the broad visual, cultural and theoretical contexts in which contemporary photographers operate.

You will learn a broad range of photographic and camera skills - both analogue and digital – utilising traditional darkroom and digital Photoshop techniques, working with industry-standard equipment and workspaces to support you from image capture through to exhibition. You will learn how to develop your contextual understanding and record your progress and workflow in the form of a sketchbook. The course will provide you with the skills and understanding for you to develop the ability to create innovative and individual work. It will teach you to appreciate photographic theory and practice and understand the work of important artists and pioneers in the history and development of the photographic medium.

AS/A Level Photography will offer you the chance to take risks, discover ideas and realise your creative potential. The course aims to create perceptive, resourceful and creative photographers with strong transferable skills, that can be applied to a range of commercial and art based careers. 

Course content

The AS Level consists of one unit:

  • Component 1: Personal Creative Enquiry. A Coursework Portfolio set by the College. 100% of the overall mark.


The A Level consists of two units:

  • Component 1: Personal Investigation with a written study. 60% of the overall mark.
  • Component 2: Externally Set Assignment. 40% of A Level.

AS Level

The AS Level involves a Personal Creative Enquiry consisting of an extended, exploratory project and outcomes based on themes which are personal and meaningful to you. The enquiry will include both practical and theoretical work. You will have the opportunity to develop skills using various techniques and equipment. During the year you will begin to compile a portfolio based on a number of themed projects. You will be required to support your practical work with a workbook documenting the progress of your projects through written and visual elements. You are also required to research other artists’ work to support their own ideas and practice.


A Level

The A Level programme draws on the knowledge and skills you have gained at AS in the form of both coursework and an internally set examination. 60% of your mark is determined via the creation of a coursework based Personal Investigation consisting of a major in-depth, practical, critical investigative project/theme-based portfolio. You will be required to carry out an extended critical and contextual written analysis.

The internally set examination requires you to independently develop a personal response to one of a varied range of stimuli. You will develop your response during a preparatory study period culminating in a 15 hour sustained focus study.

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is 5 GCSEs grades A*- C ideally including B grades or above in relevant subjects such as Photography, Art, Design, Media or Film.


Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. Below are the assessment objectives for this specification. Each of these is equally weighted. You must demonstrate your ability in the following:

  • AO1 - Contextual understanding: Develop ideas through sustained and focused investigations informed by contextual and other sources, demonstrating analytical and critical understanding.
  • AO2 - Creative making: Explore and select appropriate resources, media, materials, techniques and processes, reviewing and refining ideas as work develops.
  • AO3 - Reflective recording: Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions, reflecting critically on work and progress.
  • AO4 - Personal presentation: Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and, where appropriate, makes connections between visual and other elements.

Assessment will reflect the areas of skill, knowledge and understanding that you demonstrate through your studies. You are expected to hand in a substantial portfolio with an in-depth workbook for all set projects and exam work.

Future opportunities

Successful completion of the course can lead to further study or employment in all areas of lens-based and visual arts including art foundation, media, film, multi-media, graphic design, journalism, advertising, Illustration PR, etc. Photographic and visual skills will also be relevant to degrees in many other subjects and fields of work.

Further information

Camera equipment is available to loan from the department but many students opt to use their own; we recommend Canon models as they will then be compatible with the College inventory.  You will have to provide film and photographic paper together with any specialist materials you may wish to use; most of which are available at our college shop. You will be allocated some initial printing credit, however, you must be prepared for expenditure of about £50 per term. The College provides all processing chemicals, printing equipment, and specialist equipment such as studio lighting and tripods.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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