This course is largely practical and focuses on visual communication skills, encouraging students to develop creative, innovative methods of expressing their personal vision. Students will carry out projects, in-depth research and critical analysis of the work of other photographers, designers and artists and will also work with a variety of both analogue and digital photographic techniques.
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Advanced Level courses in Photography, Art (Fine Art) and Graphics involve a high level of practical work, which is extremely time consuming. Although these three subjects complement each other, it is not advisable to take more than two because of the expected workload.
After studying Photography at A Level, students can either take a one-year foundation course at an Art College, or progress directly to a degree in Photography.
All work is based on set projects which are carefully designed to encourage students to achieve the assessment levels set by the exam board. As students will be working on individual projects, lessons tend to involve different activities for each student. Much of the teaching is focused on one-to-one tutorials, although there are also regular whole-class sessions. Reigate College is fortunate to have extremely talented teaching staff who are equipped with the specialist photographic knowledge necessary to both inspire students and help them reach their full potential.
Lessons vary in nature, but might include:
- Listening to a lecture and taking notes
- Giving a presentation of your own work
- Researching a photographer or technique in a book or on the internet
- Working in the photographic studio
- Processing a film or working in the darkroom
- Digitally manipulating images on the computer
- Writing up the results of an experiment in a workbook
- Gathering and discussing ideas in a group
Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences
Photography students are given the opportunity to take part in a variety of course-related experiences. In the last couple of years, these have included trips to:
- London galleries
- New York
In addition to course specific experiences, students also have the opportunity to get involved in the College’s Activities Programme.
All students need to gain an experience of the work place during their time at College and for students studying vocational courses it should ideally be linked to one of their subject areas.
There is an exam project worth 40% of the grade and the remaining 60% is coursework.
The exam board for A Level Photography is Pearson Edexcel.
All students need to have at least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (and a satisfactory school reference) in order to be accepted on an A Level/BTEC Level 3 Programme.
In addition, students should meet the following minimum requirements:
- Grade 5 in GCSE Photography, Art, Graphics or Textiles, if any of these subjects were taken
- Students without a GCSE in any of the Art & Design subjects will be considered on the basis of their own photography portfolio.
Students will need full-time access to both a 35 mm film SLR camera and a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera.
Can you explain the structure of the course?
The Photography A Level course is project based. Students work towards a visual solution to a theme, whilst learning photographic methods and techniques in group workshops and one-to-one guidance during lessons. The course covers both traditional analogue and digital photography techniques. The first year follows a more precise structure than the second year, during which students work towards a self- directed personal investigation project and respond to an externally-set exam theme.
What facilities are there in the Photography department?
The Photography department offers a fully functioning walk-in photographic studio, a darkroom for black and white film processing, and an editing suite comprising PCs equipped with Adobe Creative Suite including Photoshop, Illustrator and In-Design.
Does the course involve much writing?
Students are taught to critically analyse other photographers’ and artists’ work in-depth. They also write assessments and evaluations of their own work, including a minimum 1000 word essay during the second year of study. Students are not required to write under exam conditions.
Is there an exam in Photography?
Yes, there is an exam project which is set by the examining board in February of the Upper Sixth and runs until the end of the course. The exam project consists of several weeks of sketchbook research and preparation work, and a 15 hour timed test, during which students produce their final pieces for the project. The exam project is worth 40% of the overall grade and the remaining 60% is coursework.
What do students go on to do with their Photography A Level? What are the progression routes?
There is a vast choice of creative degrees and career options open to A Level Photography students. Many decide to study for an Art Foundation Diploma course at Art College. This free one year course allows students to explore their creative abilities, prepare a portfolio and decide which area of art interests them most.
Other students go on to study non-art related university courses at the UK’s top universities (including Oxbridge and the Russell Group) or pursue unrelated careers. Employers and universities value the creativity, time management, analysis and problem solving skills students develop on the Photography A Level course.
Is there a cost implication to studying Photography at College? What equipment do I need?
Yes, there is a studio fee each year which covers some introductory materials and printing. Students will need to cover the cost of printing on photographic paper. In 2020, the Lower Sixth fee was £40 and the upper Sixth fee £20. In addition, students will need their own DSLR camera.