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A Level Art and Design: Photography pathway is a two-year course which provides students a variety of experiences that explore a range of photographic media, techniques and processes. This experience lays a foundation for further study of Photography or related subjects in Higher Education. It is suitable for you if you want to develop your interest in and enjoyment of photography.

Subject content

Photography encompasses a wide range of techniques and processes with exploration of different materials, both formal and experimental. You will learn a range of professional digital camera technologies and skills including basic and advanced camera functions, studio lighting and industry standard software. By understanding the technicalities involved you then can explore your own concepts and ideas creatively.

Learning methods

The course is broken into two components, you will create practical work for both and produce a sketchbook which will contain all your research, analysis and studies. You will also create a personal written study (essay) which is 2,000 words that is submitted with your practical work. At the end of the two years, you will sit a 15-hour practical exam where you will create your final outcome to end the course.

Specific entry requirements

GCSE Grade 5 or above in either Art and Design, Fine Art or Photography and a submission of a physical or digital portfolio covering a range of media. We will contact you to request your portfolio after you have applied. Students who have not been to a school which offers GCSE Art or Photography can still apply with a portfolio.

Equipment/additional costs

To study the course, you will need to purchase a Build a Kit Base of compulsory materials, the extras are aimed more towards Fine Art students, but you can purchase whatever you like. These are available to buy from Barnsley Sixth Form College.

It is recommended that you have your own camera, however the College does have equipment that students can book out to complete their studies. A camera on a mobile phone is not recommended, instead an entry level DSLR is preferable.


Component one is 60% of your overall grade and component two is 40% of your overall grade. The two-year course is split into four sections which are:

  • Interim
  • Personal Investigation Part One (PI Part One)
  • Personal Investigation Part Two (PI Part Two)
  • Externally Set Assignment (ESA)

Progression opportunities

You can progress to Higher Education to study a variety of Photography or Art-related courses such as photography, graphic design, fine art and illustration. The portfolio of practical work produced on this course will also be useful for interviews, employment and further study. Potential career routes include Photo Journalist or, Freelance Photographer.

Meet the A Level expert

Chloe Moulding

Chloe is a passionate Art teacher with a strong knowledge of various artistic forms who specialises in printing. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography from the University of Huddersfield.

Chloe said: “Art and Design provides a vast range of opportunities to explore any creative ability and skill. It allows you to specialise in your own creative niche and create unique artwork inspired by the art around us. Art and Design not only develops art specific knowledge and skills, it also improves transferrable skills such as collaboration, problem solving and creativity that will help for after college life.”

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