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Photography A Level (Year 1)
Study Mode
Full Time 
Exams and Coursework 
A-Levels & Creative & Digital 
Course Code:
Entry Requirements
5 GCSEs at A* - C. Must include English Language, Mathematics and ideally an Art-based subject. Attendance at an A Level information event.

Photography A Level (Year 1)

A level photography at Hillsborough College is an exciting digital based, practical course which challenges you to apply technical understanding to conceptual photo-based project work.

About the Course

You will learn to use professional digital camera technologies and industry standard software to produce a creative portfolio. In addition to this you will be trained to use professional studio lighting in our purpose built photography studios, where you will learn to shoot fashion, portraits, still life and advertising/editorial work.

Key Units

You will gain experience in visual communication through a range of challenging projects, these projects require you to develop your practice through research, analysis, experimentation and development. Sketchbooks play an integral role in your development and it is expected that you document the creative process to show how your skill and knowledge has progressed throughout the programme.

In the first year you will study two units, Unit 1 comprises of a coursework portfolio which accounts for 60% of your final grade. During this initial study period you will be given creative assignments and experience an introduction to the darkroom, DSLR cameras, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom post production techniques and studio lighting. Unit 2 is entitled Controlled Assignment and 40% of your final grade derives from this project. The topic of this section of the course changes each year with the exam board issuing an exam paper which challenges you to respond to a specific theme i.e. Growth and Evolution or Covert and Obscured. You will have a number of weeks to explore the theme and build a creative project before the final practical exam.

In the second year you will study a further two units, Unit 3 (60%) comprises of a Personal Investigation, you will be expected to propose and develop a project which is specific to your interests and strengths. Unit 4 (40%) is entitled Controlled Assignment and once again you will be expected to respond to a theme or topic set by the exam board. Grades from both AS and A2 will be aggregated to achieve a final A-Level grade. 

100% of learners passed the A2 qualification in 2014.

Visits to Paris, London and local exhibitions are arranged during the course and you will be expected to spend between 3 and 5 hours a week on private study and on location. You will be required to pay for printing of sketchbooks and portfolios before final submission, this can cost between £50 and £80 depending on quality of output selected. Those in financial hardship can apply for help from the college’s Learner Support Fund.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at A* - C. Must include English Language, Mathematics and ideally an Art-based subject. Attendance at an A Level information event.


You will be expected to produce portfolios of work on topics and themes determined by the centre. The course is assessed by coursework which is internally assessed and externally moderated. You will do a personal investigation of between 1,000 and 3,000 words.

There is an externally set timed examination (controlled assignment) which is given on an early release question paper. This gives you time to plan and prepare before the controlled assignment time to develop your idea and realise a final outcome. You will need to have good time management skills and be able to work to targets and deadlines.

Where does this Lead

The next step could be to our own Foundation Degree in Photography at Hillsborough College or other Higher Education course in this field.

Career opportunities include advertising, photo journalism and freelance. Many of our students experience live projects whilst studying; taking on commission for local industry and personal clients.

Please note that on our A level programme preference is given to 16-18 year olds wanting to study a full time package of 3 or 4 subjects. Mature part time students will be considered after full time students have been placed, if places remain available.

Tell Me More

Will this subject suit me?
An ideal student for this course is someone who is motivated, has a desire to learn and wants to express their ideas visually. You will want to explore and research different topics and themes and will need to show your increasing acquisition of techniques and skills.