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Art and Design: Photography

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.

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Lower sixth

At lower-sixth level, students begin with instruction in the various digital techniques of camera use 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 and abstract.Students go on to learn how to develop their chosen projects from a series of initial studies and how to document their work using Adobe InDesign. 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?

Having a GCSE in the subject is preferable and/or a strong and diverse portfolio of work to demonstrate the necessary skills will be desirable. Commitment outside of lessons is crucial to success. Good grades in Art and/or Photography GCSE are desirable.

How is the course assessed?

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 (3,000-word essay). 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. Component 2 is an external assessment set by AQA and concludes with a supervised time of 15 hours. It is marked out of 96 and carries 40% weighting. The work is marked at MPW and externally moderated in June.


To be confirmed at the start of the course

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

A level: AQA 7206

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Grades achieved at MPW: A*AA Progressed to: Exeter University (International Relations)

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Grades achieved at MPW: AAB Progressed to: Southampton University (Business Innovation)

"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."


Grades achieved at MPW: AAA Progressed to: Warwick University (Chemistry)

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Grades achieved at MPW: AAA Progressed to: Nottingham University (Philosophy)

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Grades achieved at MPW: A*AA Progressed to: University of York (Law)

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Grades achieved at MPW: A*A*A* Progressed to: University College London (Economics)

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Grades achieved at MPW: A*A*A* Progressed to: University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

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Grades achieved at MPW: A*AABB Progressed to: King's College London (International Relations)

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