Photography – Lens-Based and Light Based Media

Key Stage 4

GCSE Art & Design – Photography

The AQA GCSE specification provides students with a wide range of creative, exciting and stimulating opportunities to explore their interests in Photography in ways that are personally relevant and truly developmental in nature. Most materials and resources will be provided for pupils although they may be asked to provide or contribute towards some materials.


The 3 year GCSE consists of an initial skills unit and formal elements, which introduces students to a variety of experiences exploring a range of lens-based and light-based media, editing using computer software, techniques and processes, including both traditional and new technologies. This all counts as coursework, 60% of the final grade:

Year 9
– Skills unit & Formal Elements
– Unit 1 – Surrealism

Year 10
– Unit 2 – Identity
– Unit 3 – The Decisive Moment

Year 11
– Mock Exam project /Independent Topic – Student choice
– The final 40% of the course is an exam in which students choose one exam question from a selection set by the exam board. This starts in January of year 11. There is a preparation period (approx. 12-15 weeks) followed by a 10 hour supervised practical exam.


Teachers will continually assess students’ coursework and exam work. The exam board will moderate a selection. The teacher will use the four assessment objectives set by the exam board to assess how well students are making progress.

Art and Design is one of the biggest grossing industries in the UK. The opportunities for art students in today’s society are many and varied from Architecture to Film Making, Graphic Design to Landscape architecture or Photography, and the list is continuing to grow.

Key Stage 5

A Level in Art & Design – Photography

A Level Photography is a stimulating two year course that mixes well with a range of other A Level subjects and is of value even if students do not intend to make a career in Photography. The course is split into 2 units over two years. The A Level syllabus builds on the skills and ideas developed in the GCSE course, but expand the depth of visual understanding and technical skill.

Students are expected to explore and raise their technical skills to a very high standard while also experiencing new techniques, processes and ideas.

Students should also develop their critical and historical awareness of the arts and social/cultural influences on the Arts (i.e. keep annotated sketchbooks). In unit 1, an annotated study of one to three thousand words is required. Much of the work is of a personal nature and requires students to think and act independently both in school and at home. During the course, students are expected to visit galleries on Art Department trips as well as independently.

Component 1: Personal Investigation – a personal investigation into an idea, issue, concept or theme supported by written material. This will count for 60% of total A-level marks. Set and marked in school moderated by AQA visit. The Personal Investigation will start after an initial skills and artist research period in term 1 of year 12. The investigation is to be completed by the December of year 13.
Component 2: Externally set assignment – a response to one of eight exciting starting points set by the exam board which will count for 40% of total A-level marks. Preparatory period plus 15 hours supervised time. Started in January of year 13. Set by AQA, marked in school, moderated by AQA visit

Career Pathways
Possible careers pathways are photojournalism, fashion photography, wedding photography, product photography, website photography, and forensic photography.


Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4, students have the opportunity to develop their creative skills through the medium of textiles and study for the AQA GCSE in Art and Design, specialising in Textiles. In textiles, students are introduced to a variety of experiences and techniques, exploring a range of stitching, printing and dying techniques through the examination of textiles from different cultures and times.

For this subject students have the opportunity to study the following areas:-
Dyes and Printed Textiles:
• Batik, shibori, lino printing, transfer dyes, block printing, stencil printing, sublimation printing etc…
• Stitched & Constructed Textiles:
• Appliqué, quilting, patchwork, stitching (hand and machine), weaving, embroidery, embellishment and felting.

The area of textiles is very wide and it is hoped that students will adopt an investigative and independent approach to their work. Students will need to attend Textiles flexi sessions in Year 10 and

Year 11.
There are four major coursework units which need to be submitted for this examination. A coursework unit will demonstrate evidence of the working process, for example notes and sketches and the exploration of different ideas as well as the final product.
The final product may take any form, some examples may include: fashion accessories, printed t-shirts, cushions and hangings, umbrellas.

There is a practical exam but no theory paper. The exam paper is given out in advance as a requirement of the exam so that preparation work can be done under controlled conditions.
The course is assessed through:
Controlled Assessment: 60% of final mark consisting of work covered throughout the course from the following units:

Year 9
• Key Skills
• Unit 1 Natural Forms

Year 10
• Unit 2 Self Portraits

Year 11
• Mock Exam
• Unit 3 Dressmaking

Controlled Exam: 40% of final mark
Students are given a choice of exam questions on which to base their work. They will have at least 8 weeks preparation time and 10 hours to complete the exam.