Examining Board AQA

Reasons for studying this subject

Photography will help you to develop your ability to communicate through expressive, experimental and narrative images. It will help you to understand the basic concepts of visual language and enable you to learn a wide range of photographic processes and techniques. It will help you to look at the world around you more critically and encourage you to look at the work of other photographers.

What you will be studying

You will be given an opportunity to work in a wide range of photographic processes and techniques both in terms of taking your own photographs and the more technical processes of printing them in the Dark Room. You will be asked to work to a design brief, selecting appropriate subject matter, viewpoints and lighting. You will be expected to develop an understanding of the working practices of other photographers through detailed written analysis of their work.

It is important to note that there is a large written element to the course as contextual studies accounts for 25% of the GCSE grade. You will learn how to analyse the work of other photographers critically using specialist photographic terminology.

How you will learn

In the first half term you will undertake practical inductions in both traditional darkroom practice and use of Adobe Photoshop in the Apple Mac suite as well as studying the history of photography and photochemistry. After that you will complete two coursework projects in Year 10 and a third in year 11. Each coursework will introduce you to new photographic processes and techniques gradually building up your knowledge and understanding of this discipline. You will be expected to research each project by responding to a set design brief and selecting appropriate locations before taking your own photographs. As part of each project, you will be asked to evaluate the work of other photographers from a variety of genres, styles and traditions.

How you will be assessed

1. You must submit all three coursework projects for assessment. This will represent 60% of your final mark.
2. There is a terminal practical examination project at the end of the course. You will be expected to respond to one of a series of design briefs or starting points and complete a project which includes developing your own photographs and evaluating the work of other photographers. This examination paper will be given to you four weeks in advance and you will be given ten hours to complete your final prints. Your exam project will account for 40% of your final mark.


Although you will be given access to Dark Rooms and a wide range of equipment and materials, and the Apple Mac Suite, all students taking this course MUST have access to a 35mm SLR – which could be bought new, second hand or even borrowed from relatives. Access to a 35mm (film) SLR camera is a condition of entry to the GCSE course.

Older manual SLR cameras can now be bought fairly cheaply second hand from eBay, Castle Cameras in Winton, charity shops, Wimborne Market or even from older students who have finished their GCSE course and might sell their cameras. A simple, reasonably priced digital camera (7 mega pixels or higher) is very useful, but a decent camera phone will also work well – as long as images can be downloaded for use in Photoshop using your own cable.

Contact: Mrs F. Liddiard – Head of Subject