A-level Photography

A-level Photography

“Photography today provides the alphabet for an international language that informs all forms of global interaction. By understanding that alphabet you can create your own journey within the new media environment. Studying photography is no longer about training to be a photographer it is about learning to speak a new language with confidence and understanding.” Grant Scott https://unitednationsofphotography.com/2015/07/27/why-study-photography/

At A-level you will be introduced to a variety of experiences that explore a range of photographic media, techniques and processes, with both traditional and new technologies.

You will explore relevant images, artefacts and resources relating to a range of art, craft and design, from the past and more recent times. Responses given must show practical and critical activities that demonstrate understanding of different styles, genres and traditions. Sketchbooks, workbooks and journals are used to document your work as it progresses. Developing storyboards, thumbnail sketches or diagrams can also be useful.  In essence, you are telling the story of how your portfolio has evolved.

Entry Requirements 
Having studied art or photography at GCSE would be desirable. If you have a visual eye and a creative aptitude, lots of enthusiasm and ideas for expressing yourself through the visual medium photography could be your preferred option.

Alternative study: A-level Art 


Course Content

 Students are required to work in one or more areas (they may explore overlapping areas and combinations of areas):

  • portraiture
  • landscape photography (working from the urban, rural and/or coastal environment)
  • still life photography (working from objects or the natural world)
  • documentary photography, photo-journalism
  • fashion photography
  • experimental imagery
  • multimedia
  • photographic installation
  • moving image (video, film, animation)


Students must demonstrate skills and techniques in all of the following:

  • the ability to explore elements of visual language, line, form, colour, pattern and texture in the context of Photography
  • awareness of intended audience or purpose for their chosen area(s) of Photography
  • the ability to respond to an issue, theme, concept or idea, or work to a brief or answer a need in Photography
  • appreciation of viewpoint, composition, aperture, depth of field, shutter speed and movement
  • appropriate use of the camera, film, lenses, filters and lighting for work in their chosen area(s) of Photography
  • understanding of techniques related to the production of photographic images and, where appropriate, presentation and layout


Students must show knowledge and understanding of:

  • relevant materials, processes, technologies and resources
  • how ideas, feelings and meanings can be conveyed and interpreted in images and artefacts created in their chosen area(s) of Photography
  • historical and contemporary developments and different styles and genres
  • how images and artefacts relate to social, environmental, cultural and/or ethical contexts, and to the time and place in which they were created
  • continuity and change in different styles, genres and traditions relevant to Photography
  • a working vocabulary and specialist terminology that is relevant to their chosen area(s) of Photography


Personal investigation 60%

This is a practical investigation supported by written material, including research and reflections on the development of your work, giving reasons explaining how and why you have produced your work and how successful various attempts to express your intentions have been.  You can choose your own theme for this portfolio of work.

Externally set assignment 40%

The theme is published in February and you can use the time from then onwards to plan and prepare for the exam, which is 15 hours of supervised work.

Where does it lead?

Students can go on to study photography at university and then into careers in the design industry. This course can lead to career opportunities: photographer, arts management, teaching/lecturing, animator, fashion, retailing, advertising, media, photojournalist and gallery curatorial work.