KS4 Photography

Outline of course and examples of learning outcomes

In Photography, pupils will work with traditional and new media, developing confidence, competence, imagination and creativity. The Photography curriculum will follow a course that introduces them to a variety of experiences, exploring a range of photographic techniques, equipment and processes including working with traditional image processing where possible, digital SLRs and post-production applications such as Adobe Photoshop.  Students will research both historical and contemporary photographers and study how this medium has grown in popularity and the impact it has had on all aspects of modern life.

Photography can challenge students to embark on a creative journey in response to a stimulus using the photograph as a medium to convey meaning and personal ideas. Students are encouraged to reflect critically on their own and other people’s Photography, judging quality, value and meaning. Photography is a popular choice for students in GCSE. This course encourages an adventurous and enquiring approach.  Students learn to think and act as Photographers working creatively and intelligently. They develop an appreciation of Photography and its role in the creative and cultural industries and how it can enrich their own lives.

  • Enjoy making and discovering the type of Artist they would like to be.
  • Be in a safe environment to make mistakes.
  • Embrace life skills such as giving and receiving advice from peers and teachers.

You will be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding in accordance with the exam board specification through;

  • Be able to respond to a given theme or brief.
  • Visual record your observations and insights.
  • Explore different drawing techniques.
  • Understand the formal elements of art.
  • To use professional camera and equipment.
  • To use studio lighting.
  • Demonstrate experimentation with different photographic techniques and processes.
  • To develop the use ICT applications including the manipulation and editing of photographs.
  • Develop the ability to record and refine ideas.
  • Problem solve.
  • The safe use of equipment and materials.
  • Communicated through the use of subject specific vocabulary.
  • The study and analysis of other photographers’ work.
  • Be able to annotate, evaluate and become a reflective practitioner.
  • Make connections between your photography and other photographers.
  • Explore and investigate Photography both historically and contemporary.
  • Complete a Final Piece or Pieces.

Learning Organisation

The Photography GCSE is a two year course which introduces students to a variety of practical skills, theoretical studies and experiences. Students explore many aspects of the creative process of Photography. Y10 has a focus on embedding skills whilst the start of Y11 is about building and developing their Photography practice during their final unit of coursework. During the course students will complete two units of work. Each unit will have a theme where students will produce a Photography sketchbook and an individual final piece. All work will involve self-reflection and analysis to encourage students to become more confident practically, orally and in writing. The Art and Photography Department prides itself on providing students with the opportunity to create individual artwork with outcomes produced in a range of formats. Students visit exhibitions at local galleries as a group.


Component 1: The Portfolio is 60% of GCSE and is marked out of 96marks. It is marked by the school and moderated by AQA during a visit usually in June.

The Portfolio has no time limit and must include both:  1 – A sustained project developed in response to a subject, theme, task or brief evidencing the journey from initial engagement with an idea(s) to the realisation of intentions. This will give students the opportunity to demonstrate, through an extended creative response, their ability to draw together different areas of knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across their course of study.

2 – A selection of further work resulting from activities such as trials and experiments; skills-based workshops; mini and/or foundation projects; responses to gallery, museum or site visits; work placements; independent study and evidence of the student’s specific role in any group work undertaken. Students should carefully select, organise and present their portfolio and must ensure that it provides evidence of meeting all four assessment objectives. They must provide evidence of drawing activity and written annotation.

Examination Organisation

Component 2: The Externally Set Assignment is 40% of GCSE and marked out of 96marks. It consists of a Preparatory period followed by 10 hours of exam time. It is marked by the school and moderated by AQA during a visit usually in June.

AQA provides a separate externally set assignment with seven different starting points. Students must select and respond to one starting point from their chosen title. Students must ensure that they evidence all four assessment objectives and evidence of drawing activity and written annotation. The externally set assignments will be available to students and teachers from the 2nd January and is followed by 10 hours of supervised unaided work in which students are required to realise their intentions. Students must not undertake any further preparatory studies once the first period of supervised time starts.

The assessment objectives are:

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.

Further information available at http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/art-and-design/gcse/art-and-design-8201-8206

Further information available at http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/art-and-design/gcse/art-and-design-8201-8206

Independent Home Learning

You will be expected to work independently and use independent learning time to complete work ready for deadlines given for each project and to produce work for controlled assessment sections of the exam. Home learning will also be issued in the homework booklet and will be available online.

Assessment Organisation

Regular internal assessments will be undertaken to help track progress and support improvement.

You may be able to continue your study on an appropriate BTEC or to an AS course in Photography. You may follow this with a degree in a related subject such as Photo Journalism, Portrait Photography, Illustration, Graphic Design, Digital Media, Film and TV etc…