Photography – Lens and Light-based Media A Level

Departmental contact

Mrs Thompson – [email protected]

Examining board & Qualification

OCR (Digital Lens and Light Based Media) – A LEVEL

Entry requirements

Please see current prospectus for further information

Students say

“I took Photography as a way of expressing myself through photographs/digital images. If you are not too keen on the element of drawing or painting in Art, it’s a fantastic alternative!”


If you have an aptitude for the subject, are creative, imaginative, enthusiastic and above all, have ideas to communicate you will love this subject. Photography is an incredibly rewarding course for motivated students, however you should be prepared to work hard at developing your skills.

Specifically, this course provides students with the opportunity to seek an expressive and/or interpretative response to the visual world, which is produced with the aid of lens-based media and may be manipulated by digital technology.


The main purpose of any Photography course is to develop your ability to appreciate the visual world and to respond to it in a personal and creative way. The skills you will gain will be varied. Among them you will develop a working knowledge of materials, practices and techniques within lens and light-based media, this may include:

  • A range of approaches to working with images, signs and symbols, such as observation, analysis, expression, communication and imagination.
  • A range of techniques appropriate to the specialism of photography, such as the control of shutter speed and the use of aperture.
  • The ability to experiment with both still and moving imagery (animation and video).
  • The ability to make effective use of different lighting conditions, pictorial space and composition.



During the first term and a half, students will produce a portfolio of practical work which demonstrates their application and development of new workshop-based skills taught by their teacher. These practical sessions will introduce students to new techniques such as darkroom development and abstraction as well as revisit and build on previous techniques such as studio shots and light painting. Students will be encouraged to experiment with their own ideas, a range of lens and light-based media and develop critical/contextual awareness. Students will practise essential study skills and approaches to learning related to the A Level assessment objectives.

Students will develop their own personal ideas after February half term where they will investigate, research, plan for and produce a body of practical work based on a theme of their choosing. This work will form the start of their assessed work in Year 13. The exciting part about this course is that you work to your strengths and that you develop ideas and responses that interest you. You are the driving force.


The A Level qualification is a two-year qualification whereby students will build on experiences and techniques gained in Year 12.

Component 1: Personal Investigation. Candidates will be required to submit two elements for this component. A portfolio of practical work showing their personal response to their own starting point and a related written study. Within this unit (the personal investigation), students develop a personal project based entirely on their own ideas, issues or concepts. This is supported by a written element (a related personal study) of between 1000-3000 words.

Component 2: Externally Set Task. The early release paper will be issued in January and will provide candidates with a number of themes, each with a range of written and visual starting points, briefs and stimuli. From these, one must be selected upon which to base a response and students develop their ideas over a ten-week period. At the end of this there will be fifteen hours of supervised time in which students will aim to realise their ideas into an outcome.


The coursework (Component 1) is worth 60% of the overall A Level.

The externally set task (Component 2) is worth 40% of the total A Level.


Students can go to university to study Photography, Photo Journalism, Graphic Design, Animation, Web Design, Art and Design, Film Studies, and a whole range of degrees related to the media industries (film, TV and print).

The study of Photography can also help you to develop transferable skills that you can take into any job or career.

Success in this course requires determination and dedication but above all, self-motivation, organisation and a love of Photography and Art in general.


Students can expect to participate in a range of visits to a variety of locations, photography galleries and museums in order to supplement and enhance their classroom studies.

The Department provides extra art sessions on request and can offer a specialist room for personal study when Sixth Form students need it.

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