Photography students experience an innovative course that stimulates creativity and provides challenge. They are given the freedom to express their own thoughts and opinions through the powerful visual medium of lens based media. Students develop photo literacy through discussions and debates about photographers and their work. They extend their knowledge of the subject through inquisitive questioning and challenging assumptions. Students are encouraged to collaborate together sharing ideas and building on skills. The photography department is a place for taking creative risks and experimenting with ideas.

Teachers work alongside students to model the process of thinking and working like a photographer. The equipment in the studio is outstanding; all students use PCs to edit their work using Photoshop. All students their own A3 portfolio to showcase their work. There are plenty of digital SLR cameras for students to use and professional studio equipment. Regular written and verbal feedback allows a conversation to develop between teacher and student. 

To keep up to date with the constantly evolving technology and trends in photography students are introduced to the work of traditional and contemporary photographers through trips to and workshops at, some of London’s best galleries and museums.  The department adopts a range of strategies to deliver the curriculum.  These include:

  • Observation of teacher-led demonstrations,  discussion/critiques of work
  • Using secondary sources for critical and contextual investigation
  • Use of ICT in classroom with an emphasis on editing with Photoshop
  • Collaborating with peers on projects to share ideas and knowledge 
  • Practical work in the studio or on location
  • Gallery/museum visits when link can be made with project
key stage 4

Year 10

To begin the course students learn to use the camera, studio equipment and Photoshop through a variety of short assignments. These form part of the unit 1 portfolio and are presented as a ‘Technical Workbook’. In conjunction with this students are introduced to subject specific vocabulary through critical and contextual investigations into a variety of photographers and their work.

Continuing with the portfolio students apply what they have learned in a project based on the theme ‘Unusual Portraiture’.

Year 11

In the final year of the course students complete a project inspired by sequence photography. This allows students to build on their skills and design their own project. In February they start prep work for their final GCSE exam, which takes place towards the end of May.

Component 1:

A portfolio that in total shows explicit coverage of the four assessment objectives. It must include a sustained project evidencing the journey from initial engagement to the realisation of intentions and a selection of further work undertaken during the student’s course of study

How it's assessed

No time limit

96 marks

60% of GCSE

Component 2:

Externally set assignment. Students respond to their chosen starting point from an externally set assignment paper relating to their subject title, evidencing coverage of all four assessment objectives.

How it's assessed

Preparatory period followed by 10 hours of supervised time

96 marks

40% of GCSE

key stage 5

Photography is about looking, learning, thinking and communicating ideas. It inspires creative thinkers. Photography means ‘drawing with light’ and that is what photographers do when they take a picture. Many photographers have explored various techniques to create images that make a personal statement about things that have interested or concerned them.

In this course students will explore the work of key practitioners and be introduced to important historical trends. They will develop a good understanding of photographic technology through practical tasks presented in the form of a technical workbook. They will develop their ability to research and analyse, both orally and in writing, important examples of photography from its origins to the present time.

Students will produce practical and critical/contextual work in one or more areas of study for example portraiture, landscape photography, still life photography, documentary photography, photojournalism, fashion photography, experimental imagery, multimedia, photographic installation and moving image (video, film and animation).

Exam Board: AQA

Year 1 Subject Content:

Students will complete Component 1, their personal investigation, by identifying an area of photography practice that interests them and by beginning to conduct strategic research. They will experiment with making relevant responses of their own, developing stronger ideas over time, refining and developing their work. Written work of no less than 1000 and no more than 3000 words will be submitted to support the practical work.

Year 2 Subject Content

Students will embark on Component 2 by selecting one of the prompts from the exam board’s Externally Set Tasks. They will respond by producing work which provides evidence of their ability to work independently within specified time constraints. They will use the assessment objectives to guide their working process and complete a response in a 15 hour controlled assessment.

Career Opportunities / Routes

Students may go on to study photography, digital imaging or art based degrees at universities and colleges in the UK and abroad. Students may also use their A level photography portfolio in their applications to leading art and design foundation courses.


Component 1: Personal investigation / Portfolio

Students’ portfolio of work must show an understanding of the exam boards four assessment objectives and must demonstrate the context of the content of the skills presented and of the importance of process as well as product.

Photography portfolios will be marked by the centre and moderated by AQA during a visit to the centre. 

  • 60%

Component 2: Externally set assignment

Exam question paper set by AQA will consist of a choice of eight questions to be used as starting points. Students are required to select one.

Exam portfolios will be marked by the centre and moderated by AQA during a visit to the centre. 

  • 40%

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