Photography has been added to My Courses


Skip to main content

Photography encourages freedom of expression and is about communicating ideas, thoughts and feelings with others, as well as documenting moments, through the medium of photography.

The course offers students the opportunity to try traditional and modern techniques whilst mastering digital software programmes within the Adobe Creative Suite and how to use a DSLR camera with skill.

The specification studied is the OCR Art & Design: Photography A-level. At St Brendan's it is possible to take Photography alongside Textile Design, Fine Art, Graphic Communication, and/or Product Design.

The course is largely digitally based, but students are given the opportunity to produce some work in the darkroom and are encouraged to experiment with mixed media processes.

In 2023 95% of A-level Photography students achieved A*-C. This exceeded national benchmarks by 10.1%. As well as this, student progress was significantly higher than national benchmarks.


Course Content

First Year

During the first year of the course students will complete a series of workshops alongside longer projects. They will explore and experiment with a range of methods of image making, developing the photographic and creative thinking skills needed to work independently in the second year. The first year is about building up your skills and being able to truly enjoy and understand the magic of photography. There are internal deadlines and assessments but there are no exams in the first year. Progression onto the second year is based on students’ performance in the first year.

Second Year

In the second year students will choose their own areas of study, developing a project based on a theme or genre of their choosing and building upon the knowledge and skills that they have learnt in the first year. The work is much more independent with advice and guidance from teachers to support student’s progress. Students are also required to produce a written study exploring a photographic theme or genre as part of their Personal Investigation.

Unit 1 - Personal Investigation: coursework 60%

Students should produce two elements:

(i) Portfolio of Practical Work showing their personal response to either a starting point, brief, scenario or stimulus, devised and provided by the student or teacher. This means that you can choose the topic that you want to do.

(ii) Related Study: written essay with a minimum of 1000 words in response to their chosen topic.

Unit 2 - Externally Set Task: coursework with timed practical 40%

Students will produce a project based on themes set by the exam board. Students produce preparatory work for their project over a series of weeks and then complete their final pieces within 15 hours of controlled sessions.

Methods of Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Practical work is supported by teacher led presentations, exhibition visits and skills-based workshops.

In their first year students are given a thorough grounding in core skills through the experimentation of the uses of a variety of photographic processes, as well as the opportunity to develop their own ideas through a short personal project.

In the second year students develop their own personal ideas.

Methods of Assessment

All units will be marked internally by the Creative Arts team and will be moderated by the exam board.


Students are encouraged to do first-hand research and a number of trips are organised throughout the year to galleries, exhibitions and Further Education providers.


We have one digital photography teaching room, a well-equipped studio and a darkroom. There are digital SLR cameras for onsite use only. Students are provided with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for the duration of the course allowing them to use this package at home.


All students are required to have a digital SLR camera. A studio fee of approximately £40 is charged at the start of the first and second year to cover material costs. The cost of all trips and printing is the responsibility of the student which will cost approx. £36. Enrichment trips will incur nominal costs to cover transport and entry.


A-level Photography provides a sound basis for students who wish to proceed to higher education as well as being a useful background to any career within the photographic field.

Where can this course lead?

Apply for this course

Add this course to your choices for applying online

Photography has been added to My Courses