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Photography A Level

The Photography A Level course provides the opportunity to develop creative and practical skills with a camera. Photography is a versatile medium and students will explore a range of techniques in Richmond upon Thames College’s well-equipped studios and darkrooms with the use of up-to-date photography equipment and professional editing software, whilst supported by our experienced teachers.

The creative process in photography is a balance of subject matter, camera controls and post production editing. Students are required to document and explain their intentions and how they will use photographic techniques to realise their ideas. This will include sketching and drawing.

Studying photography will involve educational site visits and the planning of photography shoots during independent study time. A career in photography requires strong planning and organisation skills. Students will be encouraged to explore an exciting range of different types and forms of photography with contextual research and analysis of other photographers work including contemporary practitioners.

Please note that only one specialist endorsed option in Art and Design can be taken in an A Level study programme. Photography is offered as a specialist endorsed option and the syllabus title for this course is: Art & Design – Photography.


A level students will study a two year linear A Level programme. At the end of their 1st year, students will sit internally assessed exams.

Exam Board: AQA

Syllabus Title: Art & Design – Photography



Search your university and career options if you study Photography A Level
  • What will I study and learn?

    Practical assignments will be set, initially to enable you to learn the techniques of photography. As the course progresses, projects will cover all the main applications of photography including:

    • Darkroom techniques
    • Portraiture using studio lighting
    • Documentary
    • Fashion
    • Landscape
    • Experimental movement techniques

    These will be supported with your own research into existing images, which will enable you to place your work into a wider cultural situation.

    Throughout the course you will be encouraged to produce photographs which convey your own particular needs and interests.

    Lectures will be given to teach the practical and contextual studies of photography. These will form the basis of the practical work you will undertake in either our very well-equipped photographic studios or on location. As part of the course, you will also produce images in colour and monochrome using conventional darkroom and digital techniques. Throughout the course you will need to keep workbooks demonstrating your research and clarifying how your ideas have been developed. To assist you in this there will be a number of group visits to exhibitions whenever possible.

  • How is the course assessed?

    The course will be assessed through exams and coursework.

  • What courses would combine well with this course?

    The course is very broad and integrates practical and academic work. It therefore combines well with any subject. However, you will only be able to select one specialist endorsed subject in Art and Design as part of your A Level programme.

  • What skills will I need for the course?

    We expect you to show evidence of visual sensitivity through a collection of your own photographs. We do not recommend that this course is taken with more than one other art-based subject because of the amount of practical coursework required.

    You will need the initiative and self-motivation to undertake research and photography - often in your own time. Furthermore you will need to develop your pictures using chemicals in a darkroom.

  • What formal entry requirements will I need?

    Minimum requirements - average point score of 5 including GCSE English and Art at grade 5 and a proven interest in photography.


    Points calculation

    The average points score for entry to an A Level programme will be calculated using your 8 best GCSEs OR 6 GCSEs plus 1 technical qualification (equivalent to a maximum of 2 GCSEs and 10 points). From 2017 English Language, English Literature and Mathematics GCSE will be graded numerically (1 – 9. Grade 5 = a good grade C, grade 6 = grade B and grade 7 = grade A).


    To work out your average and find out more information, please see our Entry Requirements page.

  • What could the course lead to in higher education or careers?

    Studying an A Level in Photography as part of a full-time A Level programme could lead on to a wide variety of degree subjects at university or to an art and design degree via the one-year diagnostic Art and Design (Pre BA) Level 3 Foundation Diploma course.

  • Are there any costs involved?

    You will need a digital camera, preferably a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) which can be bought for around £350. We can give you advice on buying a DSLR camera.

    It will be necessary to visit exhibitions and, although travelling costs will be required, entry to galleries is often free.

    It will also be necessary to buy a starter pack, costing £65 for AS students, at the beginning of the course. In addition to this, you will be required to buy sketchbooks and pay for digital printing as the course progresses.

  • Are you aged over 19?

    Students aged 19 or over on 31st August directly preceding their academic year may be required to pay tuition fees for that year of study. Advanced Learner Loans may be available for students studying at Level 3. If you are aged 19-23 as at 31 August and this is your first full Level 3 you may not have to pay fees.

    Students who are 19-24 years old with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) issued by the Local Authority are not required to pay course fees (ie tuition fees are free). Students will be required to provide a final copy of their EHCP provided by the LA as evidence.


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