A Level Art and Design: Photography

 

What is it about at sixth-form level?

This course is based on Photography as an art form. The course is designed to help you explore and understand Photography creatively. You will be taught technical aspects of Digital Photography and encouraged to develop your own concepts and ideas. You will be set regular homework, which will take the form of written work, taking shots and presenting your work.

You will learn how to use your camera and compose effective pictures; how to be selective with your images; a range of Photoshop skills; experimental and creative techniques such as collage; how to analyse the work of other photographers; and how to present your work. The course is designed to encourage you to reflect on both the historical and contemporary elements of Photography and be creative and ambitious with your images, both in and out of the classroom.

Photography is for you if you have a passion for taking pictures as well as self-motivation and commitment. Students are expected to spend a significant amount of time taking photos outside of lesson time.

Lower sixth

At lower-sixth level, students begin with instruction in the various digital techniques of camera use, printing and Adobe Photoshop. They learn about the language of photography and how to “read” and analyse photographs. They begin to photograph a variety of themes including landscape, portrait, architecture, still-life, fashion, photojournalism and abstract. Students go on to learn how to develop their chosen projects from a series of initial studies, how to use sketchbooks and how to keep journals. These are used to experiment, show idea development and to record visual experiences.

Upper sixth

At upper-sixth level, students are required to build upon the knowledge, understanding and skills gained in the lower sixth with greater depth of study. Students continue to be given close technical instruction and supervision, but they are required to adopt a more independent approach. Encouragement is given to original and experimental ideas.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Photography will help you to work independently and be self-motivated during photographic shoots. The knowledge you gain through researching other photographers will enrich your understanding and improve your ability to analyse other photographs, as well as your own. It will enable you to develop your practical photographic skills as well as exploring your own creative voice. It will enhance your ability to think visually and communicate your ideas through imagery. Photography is also a useful addition to any student’s portfolio of qualifications and can help secure admission to Art colleges and universities. Beyond higher education, it can lead to a variety of careers within the creative industries.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

No previous experience of Photography is required. Enthusiasm, creativity, organisation and self-discipline will be important attributes. Commitment outside of lessons is crucial to success. Good grades in Art and/or Photography GCSE are desirable.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

At AS you will produce a portfolio of work for component 1 which counts for 60% of your total AS marks. In component 2 you will produce personal work in response to one of five exciting starting points, which will count for 40% of your total AS marks. The work is marked at MPW and externally moderated in June. Any externally assessed work sat at the end of the lower sixth will not contribute towards the overall A level.

A level

At A level for component 1 you will develop work for a personal investigation into an idea, issue, concept or theme supported by written material. This will count for 60% of your total A level. In component 2 you will produce personal work in response to one of eight exciting starting points which will count for 40% of your total A level. The work is marked at MPW and externally moderated in June.

Reading

The Photograph
By G. Clarke
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0192842008

Art and Photography
By A. Scharf
Published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0140131321

Photography: A Critical Introduction
By L. Wells
Published by Routledge, ISBN 978-0415854290

20th Century Photography
By S. Klotz
Published by Tashen, ISBN 978-3836541022

Phaidon ‘55’ Series
By Various
Published by Phaidon

Other texts will be recommended to students specific to their chosen themes.

 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: OCR H007, A level: OCR H407

Matthew

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”

Gabriel

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”