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Photography A Level (Block D) at St John's Catholic Comprehensive School

Course description

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Elliott Erwitt


Photography is an exciting and creative subject that encourages you to develop a personalised visual language by observing the world through the lens of a camera. You will learn how to use sketchbooks to develop a creative journey and explore a wide range of techniques and processes.

You will learn about digital photography, traditional photography and alternative processes. At St John’s we are fortunate to have a photography suite fully equipment with 20 iMac computers, a photographic studio and a darkroom. You will learn about digital photography by completing photo-shoots in the studio and by digitally manipulating the images in photoshop.

You will also learn about traditional film photography by using a film camera and developing negatives and producing prints using the darkroom chemical process. You will also experiment with alternative camera-less processes such as photograms and cyanotype printing.

You will be taken on location to complete photo-shoots as well as taking photos at home and in the studio.

You will work to a set theme, which will include highly structured photographic tasks. You will also be expected to develop your own responses to this theme by researching and responding to a wide range of photographers. You will build a portfolio of images, some of which you will display in a professional end of year exhibition.

In the second year of the course you will have to present a personal study on a topic of your choice, which should be related to your practical work. This will include a minimum 1000 word critical study.

Course content

During this course you will:

  • Build a portfolio of still and moving images exploring a wide range of materials, processes and techniques including film processing and digital photography
  • Experiment with a wide range of photographic materials and processes
  • Be taught how to research and analyse the work of relevant artists and photographers
  • Complete studio and location based photoshoots related to a set theme
  • Complete independent photoshoots related to the theme
  • Present their work in the annual exhibition


Entry requirements

  • GCSE Art and Design (Grade 6/B or higher) or
  • GCSE Photography (Grade 6/B or higher) or
  • BTEC Photography Level 2 (Merit or higher) or
  • Interview by portfolio plus a minimum of 5 GCSE grades A*-C (Grade 4 or higher) or equivalent.


*It would be advantageous, although not essential, to  have your own SLR digital camera.


Component 1 - submission of a portfolio of work in response to the set themes supported by preparatory/experimental work in a work journal (50%)

Component 2 - Externally Set Theme issued by Edexcel in February, followed by an eight hour examination. (50%)

Future opportunities

This course leads naturally to careers in Fine Art Photography, TV and Film, Media and Animation, Photo Journalism, Fashion Photography, Advertising, Web Design and Travel Photography.

Art & Design courses are also useful if you are considering a career in such fields as Architecture, Design, Curatorship and Art Criticism, Arts Administration, Animation, Marketing and Publicity.

On completion of this course you could go onto higher education by applying for:

  • Photography related degrees: including Fine Art, Fashion, Media and Photography
  • Art and Design Foundation course

The course will also encourage you to explore your creative mind and help you develop the basic skills, understanding and knowledge that many employers across lots of industries are looking for.

Further information

Students will complete AS at the end of year 12. Those wishing to complete the full A level must achieve at least an “E” grade at AS. Students will also need to attend both study visits.

In Year 13, as part of the personal investigation component of the course you will write a minimum 1000 word critical study.

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 06 November 2018