Skip to content ↓
Blackfen School for Girls

Blackfen School for Girls

Raising aspirations - releasing potential

Photography A Level


Exam Board:     AQA

Why study this subject: 

Students will be introduced to a range of stimulating photographic opportunities and will explore how lighting, lens, camera functions, digital and traditional techniques are used to manipulate imagery. 

Photography is more than documenting and recording. Students are required to develop personal, meaningful, conceptual ideas, technically accomplished and individual approaches that reflect their creative styles and visual interests. 

Personal skills that will be challenged and developed: 

  • Critical, analytical and practical problem solving 
  • Risk taking
  • Rigorous self-evaluation and critical reflection 
  • Organisation skills, planning and time management 
  • Working independently and collaboratively
  • Presentation skills and public speaking
  • Literacy communication through technical descriptions, reports, essays and a mini dissertation

Units: How will I be assessed: 

Course Structure  

All components are created on PowerPoint, supported by a professional portfolio. Students are required to pay for the costing of final outcome prints.  


Component 1 

• 96 marks  

• 60% of A-level 

Project 1: Foundation Skills Year 12 September – October

Project 1 workshops explore, develop and fine-tune fundamental camera skills and settings.   Students will be exploring the following topics within this project:

  • Composition
  • ISO 
  • Aperture / depth of field 
  • Fast and slow shutter speed - Danson fire work trip
  • Post editing with Photoshop 

Project 2: The face and figure. Year 12 November – December

Project 2 explores the face and figure within the environment and landscape settings. Students will further their knowledge of shutters speed and focus on long exposure drawings and imagery.  They will take inspirations from contextual artists, working independently and developing their own path of exploration.

Project 3:  The Past and Present January – April

Project 3 incorporates two elements: practical work and a written investigation (500 – 1000-word essay).

Pupils will conduct contextual research of historical and traditional artworks, recreating them into conceptual photographic images. Pupils will decide their own choice of medium and postproduction.

Project 4:  Personal Investigation. June – January

Students are required to conduct a practical investigation, into an idea, issue, concept or theme, supported by written material. (1000–3000-word essay).

The focus of the investigation must be identified independently by the student and must lead to a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes.

Areas of study: Students are required to work in one of the areas of photography, such as those listed below.

  • Portraiture
  • Landscape photography (working from the urban, rural and/or coastal environment)
  • Still life photography
  • Documentary photography,
  • photojournalism
  • Fashion photography
  • Experimental imagery
  • Multimedia
  • Photographic installation
  • Moving image (video, film, animation).
  • Micro photography
  • Fast/slow shutter speed
  • Etc.. 

Component 2

External Set Paper February year 13

Students will choose one topic out of five thematic titles set from AQA and explore that concept with their choice of media and postproduction.

•  Preparatory period 14 weeks + 15 hours supervised time

•  96 marks

•  40% of A-level

Future course and possible careers:

Art and photography degrees teach problem solving, team work, independence and self-motivation qualities that every employer is looking for. In fact, the Telegraph recently listed Art/ photography graduates in the top 10  most employable.

This course can lead to a college or foundation course leading to careers in Art:

  • Graphic designer
  • Magazine features editor
  • Medical illustrator/ photographer
  • Photographer
  • Press photographer
  • Television camera operator
  • Advertising art director
  • Digital marketer
  • Film director
  • Film/video editor
  • Media planner
  • Multimedia specialist
  • Stylist
  • Visual merchandiser
  • Web content manager
  • Web designer
  • Crime scene/ forensic photographer
  • Media photography
  • Journalistic photography or art based media