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Subject Area: Visual & Performing Arts
Level: TWO-YEAR A Level
Exam Board: AQA
Syllabus No:

What do I need to study this course?

GCSE or BTEC in an Art, Media, or Design based subject, or, a keen interest in photography with a portfolio of work. English Language at GCSE grade 4 or above.

What will I study?

The first term’s work for Year One students explore photography and initially acts as an opportunity to give students a taste of many practical and conceptual approaches to the subject, as well as an insight into a wide range of Photographers and contextual references.

First year of A-level

Photography Coursework portfolio (Sept –Dec)

Areas of study – students are required to work in one or more areas.

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


Component One part 2 personal investigation study (Jan to Dec)

  • Externally moderated
  • Work required: digital portfolio, personal investigation and final piece(s)

Students choose one of the titles for study throughout the A-level course.

This is a practical component supported by written material. Students are expected to develop a personal investigation based on an idea, issue, concept, or theme leading to a final outcome.

Component Two externally set assignment (40%)

  • Externally Moderated
  • Work required: digital portfolio and 15 hour exam piece

The theme for this unit is set by the exam board. Students are expected to build on knowledge and skills from their previous work, with greater depth of study. With teacher guidance they will identify their own personal intentions in response to the theme. In around 6 weeks you will work through the creative process, exploring a range of ideas and processes and produce a final 15 hour piece under exam conditions.

On-going feedback is provided to allow you to refine and develop your working practices, allowing you to meet your full creative potential. We will introduce a wide range of historical and contemporary contextual sources allowing you to make personal and informed responses to the work of current photographers, artists, designers and craftspeople.

What next?

Studying Photography equips you with a variety of transferable skills, both for life, and a wide range of vocational areas, including: lateral thinking, creative problem solving, critical thinking, verbal reasoning, communication, risk taking, the ability to use your own initiative, and organisation.

The course is essential for students wishing to undertake further studies in Photography, Art, or Design related subjects. In 2017, 50% of our students progressed onto Photography, Art or Design related courses. Notre Dame Art students progress onto Foundation in Art and Design (one year full-time course exploring a range of disciplines), and then specialising in an area to go on to study at degree level. Some have gone directly onto degree courses at educational institutions such as; Leeds College of Art, Manchester University, Leeds Metropolitan University, Newcastle University, York University and Bradford College of Art. Subject choices have included; architecture, graphic design, fine art, art history, textiles, fashion marketing and photography.