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GCSE Art and Design: Photography

Course Specification available here.

Course Information

Immersing yourself in a creative subject like Photography has many benefits and offers the opportunity to gain a varied set of skills.  The GCSE photography course allows you to engage in lens-based art, which encourages you to be imaginative, thoughtful and technical whilst also balancing this with the ability to analyse, deconstruct and explore the work of photographers.  

Throughout the two years, there are opportunities to experience a range of photography styles from using the professional photography studio and lighting set-ups to being experimental in the dark room and manually developing your own photographs.   Digital photography and the use of software such as Photoshop are also embedded into the course and will equip you with strong technical manipulation skills. The course is adaptive, meaning you have the ability to be inspired by Photographers and then incorporate your own style and learning to produce exciting individual photographic outcomes.  

Students will develop their skills in line with the AQA GCSE Assessment Objectives:  

  • AO1: Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources.  
  • AO2: Refine work by exploring ideas, selecting and experimenting with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.  
  • AO3: Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions as work progresses.  
  • AO4: Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and demonstrates understanding of visual language.  

Across year 10 and 11, students will complete three projects. 

Component 1: Coursework. 60%  

Sense of place/self : Students will visit the Tate Modern gallery in Central London to explore the work of contemporary artists and photographers. After visiting the exhibition, students will explore basic camera skills, darkroom , mixed media and in order to produce an experimental individual response. 

Making Us Strange: Students will focus on surrealist portrait photographers such as John Stezaker and Shirin Neshat before combining elements of their chosen photographers to produce a personal individual response.  

Component 2: Externally Set Assignment 40%   

Externally Set Assignment:  

In the spring term of year 11, students receive an Externally Set Assignment from AQA with 7 themed questions. The students will then spend approximately 2 months researching and experimenting with artistic ideas which will lead to the creation of a final piece in a 10-hour exam that takes place across two school days. Here students will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to be an artist working in a studio towards an exhibition of their work.  

Steps to Success in GCSE Photography

  1. Spend at least two hours each week on homework.
  2. Visit London art and photography galleries.
  3. Use Photoshop to manipulate your images, investigate and develop your ideas.
  4. Learn how to control Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO as soon as possible and implement this in your photography.
  5. Research photographers, create images in their style, write about how they created their work and give your opinion on their work.
  6. Thoroughly annotate your work using the literacy help sheets. Label all images used with Artist’s Name, Title and Date.
  7. Attend Photography Studio Sessions at least once a week.
  8. Experiment with different techniques in the darkroom e.g. solarisation, photograms and double exposure.
  9. Use the school cameras to take photographs in your own time, based around the theme.
  10. Learn to use the Studio to photograph their subjects in a controlled environment.
  11. Keep your sketchbook up-to-date and tidy, use key photography words in your annotations.
  12. Create step by steps of how photographs are produced; include diagrams of studio set ups.

Useful websites:  (click on images, large images, save as jpeg)

Syllabus: GCSE: Art and Design (Photography)

Examination Board: AQA

More information: Miss V Parker