Course Description

Photography is the art of observation, finding something interesting in an ordinary place, conveying the world through your eyes. It is not about the things you see, but the way you see them. You will explore different genres of photography including documentary, street photography, experimental imagery, portraiture, studio still life and fine art photography.

Entry Requirements

Students studying three A Levels will be expected to have a minimum of two GCSEs at grade 6 and three other GCSEs at grade 5/4 or above, including English Language and Mathematics at grade 5/4. It is not necessary to have studied Art & Design or Photography at GCSE in order to study A Level Photography. However, a keen interest in the subject is crucial.

Course Content

This course will provide the fundamentals of photography and you will begin using a manual film camera, processing film and printing your own black and white images in a darkroom. Studying and exploring more traditional methods of photography provides you with the foundations to create the perfect image within the lens, whilst gaining a real understanding of exposure and camera controls. Traditional and alternative photography processes will be explored and experimented with, whilst working alongside new media and digital photography.

You will use a sketchbook to document your studies including photoshoots captured, workshops covered, the development of ideas and experiment work. Annotation is an important part of the research and developmental process and this is also documented within your sketchbook to support your imagery. You will need to be committed, passionate and enthusiastic about photography as you are required to extend and develop work produced in class and in your own time. You should also allocate an additional five hours per week to expand on ideas initiated in class and techniques demonstrated to do well and fulfil the requirements of the course.

We cover a traditional method of photography, using the camera, film and darkroom techniques to new digital media techniques, whilst exploring and communicating with the world around us through the lens. The different genres of photography include studio work, documentary, street photography, landscape, portrait and still-life photography to name a few, and you will be introduced to these different aspects of photography through workshops and assignments whilst on the course.


Component one: Personal Investigation (60% of final grade) throughout year one and into December of year two.

Component two: Externally Set Assignment (40% of final grade) runs from February to May of the second year.

Both components are internally assessed and externally moderated. You will also present a portfolio and an exhibition of your work covering both components which is internally assessed and externally moderated.

Enrichment and Work Experience

There is an opportunity to complete a one-week work placement in the summer term. Throughout the academic year there will be several day trips to galleries, artist studios and city visits to gather and practise your observation recording techniques. Some will be enriching, but for those that are compulsory, travel costs will be met by The Sixth Form. Workshops are run every Wednesday afternoon to further develop your skills and broaden your knowledge.

Additional Information

To support your studies, you will be required to purchase relevant materials as outlined below:

Kit £21.70 and includes: large square sketchbook, 25 sheets kentmere photo paper, 2 x 10x8 photo paper, double sided tape, masking tape, A3 plastic portfolio, glue stick, biro, 4 x acetates.

Links with other subjects:
Photography links well with English, Graphic Design, Fine Art, Media and Film Studies.

Future Career Opportunities

Many students go on to study art & design at pre-degree foundation level, or a BA degree. Students have gained employment in areas of art & design such as interior design, surface pattern design, graphic design, advertising, illustration as well as industrial and commercial product design, photography, animation and film/video.

Why study at The Sixth Form Bolton?

We are one of the few A Level Photography providers were you will learn traditional dark room techniques and specialist studio and photographic equipment will support your personal progress. This will help you build up an innovative and exciting portfolio of work which will support you in studying at a higher level or employment.