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Photography A Level at Varndean College

Course description

You will be introduced to a variety of photographic media, techniques and processes. You study traditional black and white darkroom printing as well as digital photography and learn practical skills and techniques. You learn to research photographers’ work in depth, and link these ideas with your own work. You will be encouraged to explore ideas and push the boundaries of the medium, and develop your own individual creative concepts and approaches to photography.

Understanding your SLR camera is key: using depth of field, movement, working with different films, lenses, filters and lighting. You will benefit from a wide range of facilities, including two darkrooms and will have the opportunity to work in a studio environment with our technician in a designated studio session each week.

Course content

Year 1:

  • Learn to use a 35mm SLR film and digital camera
  • Develop and print black and white images
  • Experiment with colour images both manually and digitally using Photoshop.
  • Learn about the history and techniques of photography from the 19th century to contemporary images to extend your own photographic ideas
  • Visit galleries in London to see photography exhibitions
  • Attend lectures by visiting photographer

Year 2:

  • Develop your personal ideas on photography
  • Practise finer techniques of black and white darkroom printing
  • Experiment more widely with black and white and colour images, further exploring your camera techniques
  • Continue to learn new Photoshop skills and print large colour images
  • Extend use of digital SLR and a variety of lenses
  • Study an aspect of photography you particularly enjoy and write an illustrated essay


Entry requirements

Standard advanced course requirements plus:

Grade 5 in GCSE Photography (if taken)


Evidence of commitment to and aptitude for photography demostrated through submission of work.


60% coursework, 40% externally set assignment

Future opportunities

Many students continue their studies through foundation courses and specialist photography degrees. Others take degree courses in subjects such as media, film, graphics, animation, illustration, fashion, advertising and fine art. The A level could provide a gateway into a structured commercial career.

Further information

You must have your own 35mm SLR film camera, and access to a digital SLR, and a tripod would be an advantage. Black and white film and paper, USB sticks and mounting card are available to buy in the college shop. A3 logbooks are used to record your progress and research and are also available to buy in college.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 24 October 2018
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    • At Varndean College our aim is to offer all our students the rich, broad and enjoyable experience they need to develop, flourish and achieve their goals in the adult world.

      Teaching and Learning is at the heart of the successful partnerships between students and staff here and we are proud of the skilled and imaginative approaches to teaching taken by our staff to make learning exciting.

      Equally important to the success of our students is the enjoyment they gain from feeling part of a community: a community that is created through the wealth of opportunities to engage with others offered by our extensive enrichment activities. From: Code-breaking to Sport; Music to Peer-mentoring; Drama to Politics Society, there really is something for everyone.