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Photography A Level at The Archbishop's School

Course description

From artwork to Apps, the world around us is becoming increasingly saturated with images. The purpose of A Level Photography is to learn not what to think, but how to think about the visual world around us.


This course enables students to develop a language in how an image communicates a story, without the use of text. This will take place through a variety of workshops and experiments; both in traditional technology like darkroom photography; where students learn the functions of Photography in a ‘hands on’ approach and in current technology like in Photoshop; where they will learn different techniques to an industry standard. Students will apply this knowledge into their own personal work and will be able to demonstrate the ability to convey their skills, ideas, emotions and understanding of the visual language to use their own creativity to their advantage.


They will also develop a specialist vocabulary and the knowledge and understanding of the place of art/photography in history and in contemporary society.

Course content

Unit 1 Coursework – 50% of the total A Level


This is a structured project taking students up to their exam. Beginning with an exploration of a theme, students will take part in workshops to broaden and develop their base of skills.


This work consists of two elements:


  1. Practical work and
  2. A personal study.


Students will pursue their own creative and visual themed ideas with guidance from tutors. Practical work should arise from students’ current interests and experiences in Photography. They must support their own work with examples of research from the world of Art and Photography. The presentation of this study can take many forms. Students will be expected to compose their own study question and write their own project proposal with support. Practical work needs to be approached prolifically with a separate written document developed alongside it. The presentation of this study can take many forms. This may be:


  • A presentation on CD or DVD with text
  • A collection of images produced by the student with a written text
  • A study in a book form which may include images produced by the student


Unit 2 Externally Set Assignment – 50% of the A2.


Students will be given a theme to work on in the spring term from which to create preparatory studies. This research will culminate with an eight hour timed exam. The theme is set externally by the exam board.


How can I develop my full range of skills by doing this course?


As well as covering the advanced level study of Art and Design Photography, this course will enable you to develop some key skills that will be essential to whatever you go on to do afterwards. The key skills you can develop during this course are:


  • Communication


The key skill of communication is integral to the study of A Level Photography and will be assessed as specified in the same mark scheme. This involves, amongst other skills, the ability to:


  • Summarise the information found in many different types of sources – e.g. books, paintings, museums, galleries and the internet.
  • Using research purposefully.
  • Identify meaning with in visuals.
  • Analyse and discuss your work and that of others in a group situation.
  • Make personal presentations to an audience about the development of your ideas and outcomes.


Other key skills appropriate to the study of Photography are:


  • Information Technology.
  • Improving own learning and performance.
  • Working with others.
  • Problem solving.

Entry requirements

The nature of the course will be suitable for students with different levels of existing skill and understanding. Both novices and enthusiasts will have the opportunity to thrive and to be pushed, despite whether they have a GCSE in Art and Design or not. Many different disciplines studied at GCSE level compliment the development of student progress during the course, though a GCSE in Art and Design will provide a good foundation for the year.

The main ingredients for a successful Photography student are determination, hard work and a desire to want to learn the visual language. This entails working hard inside exciting workshops at school and challenging tasks set to undertake outside of school.

Taking Photography is not an easy option and taking the subject should be thought about carefully, though this intense course is rewarding as it utilises many creative and analytical skills you may already have.

Future opportunities

There are many careers in photography. Most of these require further study at an art school, further education or university.  If you are unsure about whether to make a career of a subject, the best thing to do is to speak to your teacher who will know about the courses on offer in your area or elsewhere.


At present, most students wishing to take photography further will go on to do a one year ‘Foundation’ course at an art college or college of further education before applying for degree course in more specialist areas of art and design. If you already know that you wish to study photography as a degree course at a university after your A Levels, some institutions will offer and/or consider this route.


You may wish to do an art AS or A2 for its own sake, perhaps to form the basis of a future interest or as part of a range of other subjects. Alternatively, you might wish to go into a job where it is useful to have had an experience in photography, or where you will need to use some of the skills developed during this course. These might include careers in such fields as advertising, marketing, design, architecture, publishing and the media. The study of photography can also help you develop transferable skills that you can take into any career or job. Success in AS/A2 Level Photography requires determination and dedication. However, whichever future path you choose; it can be a very rewarding beginning.

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: 30 January 2017
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