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Photography A Level at PETROC

Course description

Photography is a thrilling outlet for creativity. This is a really practical art and design course where your image-making skills will flourish. Much of your work will be outside of lesson time; but with a camera in your hand, every day is a new chance to learn! You'll study drawing, digital and traditional photography and even experimental photography.

We have a suite of iMac computers running Adobe Creative Suite, a darkroom and a photographic studio here at the college with which you will be introduced to various processes both digital and analogue, traditional and experimental. You will be expected to draw and visualise your ideas and thought processes beyond the camera or computer.

Course content

The AS and A Levels are modular programmes made up of a themed coursework unit followed by an externally set assignment which includes a timed piece of work. You will be introduced to many new ways of working and thinking about photography and different forms of Art & Design.

Throughout the programme you'll explore the endless possibilities of creating images by observing and documenting life around you. The AS year covers lots of workshops and skills sessions which aim to prepare you for working in Art & Design at advanced level. After these workshops and a few shorter projects, you will begin an extended project which will allow you to focus on a genre of photography and techniques that you would like to explore further. In the second year you will do another large project which will allow you to explore a theme or idea in greater depth before moving onto the externally set assignment in which you will choose to work on one of a number of themes suggested by the exam board.

We'll teach you essential photographic and editing skills, to help you discover new creative ways to express yourself through your shots. We encourage experimentation, and you'll work with other students to help each other progress.

We have an excellent photographic studio with lighting, a photographic darkroom, and lots of iMacs running Adobe Creative Suite. With opportunities to see photographic exhibitions, experience live work and gain work experience, you can get a real-world understanding of creative industries.

Entry requirements

To be accepted onto a two-year A Level programme, all entrants must hold at least a grade 5 in GCSE Maths and a grade 5 in GCSE English Language, as well as at least 3 other GCSEs at grade C or above. Certain subjects require a minimum of GCSE grade B; these are detailed in this prospectus and on the Petroc website.
Continuation onto Year 2 of the A2 programme will be dependent on achieving at least a grade D at AS in the subjects being continued to A2.

A GCSE in a creative subject (Art, Textiles, Graphics, Photography, Resistant Materials/Design Technology).


Your work will be assessed using clear assessment objectives which will be carefully explained. You will also have the opportunity to assess your own work so that you understand exactly what kind of evidence you have to provide.

Your work will need to record observations, ideas and insights appropriate to your intentions, analysis and critical evaluation of images and texts, showing your understanding, development of ideas through sustained investigation and presenting a personal response explaining connections with the work of others. You will be given regular feedback about how you are getting on.

Future opportunities

If you want a career in photography, you can move on to the Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design, or go directly on to a specialist degree course in art and design (which we offer here at Petroc). Increasing numbers of our students are making successful applications in photography and related subjects.

Further information

Q. Do I need my own camera?
A. No, while it may be useful for you top have your own camera, it is not essential. The department a range of cameras which we lend out to students as and when they need them. 

Q. I want to buy a camera, what should I buy?
A. If you would like to buy a camera, wait until you are settled into the course and we may be able to give you some advice that will help you to make the right decision.

Q. I see that photography is an Art & Design course, will I have to do things like drawing and painting?
A. While the focus of the course is on photography and making images with photographic processes, we encourage you to use drawing and other art & design processes to help you to communicate your ideas and to develop your own work.

Q. Is there a reading list for the course?
A. The book we recommend you start with is 'The Photography Book' published by Phaidon. It is a small book which will introduce you to a great many photographers whose work can start to whet your appetite. There are a number of other books and sources of reading we would recommend once you have decided to focus on a particular area of the subject.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact PETROC directly.

Last updated date: 17 February 2017

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