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Course Description 

The AQA Photography course encourages students to develop their understanding of the visual world, learning new practical skills and responding to ideas and issues in ways that are personal to them.

The course curriculum creates opportunities for students to experience traditional and/or digital processes in photography, and for students to develop their skills in their selected areas of interest, preparing them to pursue further education and careers across the photography and creative industries.

Studying a photography related degree at university will give you a variety of exciting career opportunities, including: Commercial photographer • Fashion photographer • Filmmaker • Fine art photographer • Forensic photographer • Industrial photographer • Medical photographer • Nature photographer • Photographic illustrator • Photographic technician • Teacher • Photojournalist • Picture editor • Researcher • Social photographer • Sports photographer


Over the two years the course is split into two components.

Component 1 (Portfolio of work):

Coursework is worth 60% of your overall grade.

The coursework is comprised of

  • 2 mini projects
  • 1 extended project  (Personal investigation and critical essay 1000-3000 words).

Component 2 (Externally set assignment):

  • The other 40% is your exam, starting in February
  • Students will produce personal work in response to one of eight exciting starting points

Both components use the same four Assessment Objectives to assess learners:

  • AO1: to develop idea through sustained and focussed investigations informed by contextual and other sources, demonstrating analytical and critical understanding
  • AO2: to explore and select appropriate resources, media, materials, techniques, and processes, reviewing and refining ideas as work develops
  • AO3: to record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions, reflecting critically on work and progress
  • AO4: to present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and, where appropriate, makes connections between visual and other elements

Skills and techniques

Students will have a fluent understanding of the visual elements, lighting set-ups, knowledge of camera settings, as well as digital and practical editing skills. Students will understand the role of the aperture and shutter speed through the use of our photography studio, as well as pre- and post-editing techniques.


Specification website link:


Methods of delivery:

Students will need to ensure they bring their sketchbook to every lesson. They will receive demonstrations of techniques and processes from their teacher, participate in practical lessons and group crits, carry out contextual research and portfolio preparation for interviews into further education.

Access to a computer and printer at home is helpful for their artist research and analysis. In school the students use Photoshop to edit, manipulate or animate their photos and media trials. This is great but expensive. is a free online scaled down version students can use at home.

Students must also come equipped to learn, ensuring that they have a pencil, rubber, sharpener, and ruler. Students are welcome to bring other materials, but this is not required. In previous years, students found having a white pen helpful to annotate their sketchbook.

GCE Assessment Criteria Grid 2023

KS5 photography

Homework expectations:

Students will be expected to continue and complete work independently at home. Homework is coursework and students will receive homework on a weekly basis. Please check your child’s student planner every week and help support your child by checking their understanding, talking through their ideas, expecting them to attend afterschool workshop sessions. Students will be working towards deadlines, which is essential to support them through this A-Level course.

Trips / Visits:

Students will be offered the chance to go on trips to galleries, museums and scenic locations. In the past, we’ve taken students to Kew Gardens, the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Photographer’s Gallery.

At A-Level, there is an expectation that students should be visiting museums and galleries in their own time. Southend has some exceptional places to visit, including the Forum and Beecroft Art Gallery