Photography GCSE

Option Block A or C

Ms. F. Liddiard

Head of Department

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 develop an understanding of the working practices of other photographers through detailed visual and written analysis of their work.

It is important to note that there is a fairly 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, as well as your own work.

How You Will Learn:

When you start the GCSE course in the last term of Year 9, you will undertake practical inductions in both traditional dark room practice and the use of Adobe Photoshop in the Mac suite as well as studying the history of the camera and photochemistry. After that you will complete two coursework projects in Year 10 and a third in year 11. Each project 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 brief and selecting appropriate locations and subject matter before taking your own photographs. As part of each project, you will be asked to start by evaluating the work of other photographers from a variety of genres, styles and traditions, before taking your own photographs inspired by their work. You will also learn how to present your work in a neat and professional manner.

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 an externally set practical examination project at the end of the course. You will be expected to choose a starting points from a list on the exam paper and complete a project which includes developing your own photographs and evaluating the work of other photographers. You will have approximately 10-11 weeks to produce all your preparatory work, followed by a ten hour practical exam – over two days – to complete your final prints. Your exam project will account for 40% of your final GCSE grade.


Although you will be given access to dark rooms and a wide range of equipment and materials, and the iMac Suite, all students taking this course MUST have access to a simple, reasonably priced digital camera (12 mega pixels or higher).

Smart phones with cameras are not suitable as a main digital camera, due to difficulties uploading from a wide range of phones onto the Mac computers and the fact that many phones will now optimise images for Cloud storage, so the full resolution files cannot always be retrieved in lessons. (Also – from a safeguarding point of view, when you connect a smart phone to the Macs, your whole camera roll can be viewed on screen for teachers and other students to see.) Uploading images from digital cameras via their USB leads or SD cards is very easy and quick.

Students will also need access to a traditional 35mm roll film SLR – which could be bought second hand or even borrowed from relatives. (We will provide the film)

Older manual film SLR cameras can now be bought fairly cheaply second hand from eBay, Castle Cameras in Winton, charity shops, Wimborne Market, The Den, or even from older students who have finished their GCSE course and might sell their cameras.

Contact: Miss F. Liddiard – Head of Photography