Skip to content ↓


Key Stage 4 – Art and Design: Photography

Exam board: OCR

Coursework (1 unit)    60%
Exam    (1 unit)   40%

If you’re weighing up your GCSE options at the moment, take a minute to consider just what you might gain if you choose our Art and Design: Photography, Textiles or Art. This GCSE is designed to bring Art and Design to life and to help you develop your artistic skills and expand your creativity, imagination and independence. What’s more, the possibilities for personal expression are endless.

The course provides outstanding preparation for progression to A Level in Art and Design. It could lead towards a career in fine art, new media, games development or games technologies, as well as digital photography and video, and more.

It will help you gain knowledge and understanding of art, craft, design, media and technologies today and in the past, as well as in different societies and cultures. You’ll also develop an understanding of the different roles, audiences and consumers for art, craft and design. You’ll experience different work practices and look at relevant processes and equipment too.

Candidates should demonstrate an expressive and/or interpretative artistic response to the visual world. They should show understanding of conventions and genres such as portrait, landscape and movement and a range of techniques appropriate to the chosen specialism of photography.

What grade will I achieve?

You will achieve a grade for each unit, from 1-9 and then an overall grade for the whole course, which will be from 1-9.

In order to succeed in the course, the completion of quality homework tasks is imperative and students are expected to meet the given deadlines. Students will be responsible for keeping their sketch books safe and up to date as they will contain the majority of evidence for assessment.

All students are strongly advised to regularly attend after school sessions to help support and enhance their achievement.

Subject Leader: Mr Munroe (

Year 9 (suggested Topics)

  • Vanitas
  • Contrast

Year 10 (suggested topics)

  • Portraits/Fashion
  • Architecture

Year 11

  • Final coursework unit
  • Exam preparation

Key Stage 5 – Art and Design: Photography

Exam board: OCR

Coursework (1 unit)    60%                                                                                                                                               Exam    (1 unit)   40%

5 reasons to study OCR Art and Design: Photography, Fine Art and Textiles

1.The arts make self starters and develop emotional intelligence

Photograghy, Fine Art and textiles require the student to set their own agenda from within themselves, rather than follow set topics as in other subjects. They have to make independent decisions all the way, and be self-critical. They also need to be brave in exposing their creations, and accept criticism. Working in teams makes students into good communicators.

2. The arts are stretching

Art and design require long hours of hard work and dedication. Students have to pay great attention to detail, to perfect and redo.

3. Arts students are highly sought-after by employers

Many employers now actively seek those who have studied the arts. Steve Jobs, founder of
Apple, was fond of saying his success was due to his hiring artists and musicians fascinated by technology rather than computer geeks. Top talent management agency, The Curve Group, specialising in financial and business services, declares that employees with arts degrees have developed more quickly in their roles from the start and has found them to have discipline, confidence and the ability to accept criticism.

4. Arts ‘reach the parts other subjects can’t reach’

The arts develop the broader dimensions of the human being – mind, body and soul. The arts can express the inexpressible and make sense of things that otherwise do not seem to. This can be very fulfilling and helps us function as human beings – which can only be good for society as a whole.

5. Arts ‘reach the students other subjects can’t reach’

Teachers find arts subjects particularly beneficial for two groups: those who struggle with traditional subjects and those who are high achieving. Less academic students can become defeatist if they feel they can’t achieve: drama, music or art can be the place they blossom. With studious students, the arts can bring them out of themselves and be a release.”

Component 1: Personal investigation

• Candidates should produce two elements:

  1. A portfolio of practical work showing their personal response to either a starting point, brief, scenario, or stimulus, devised and provided by the candidate or centre
  2. A related study of continuous prose with a guided minimum of 1,000 words

Personal investigation and related study


120 marks

This component is internally assessed and externally moderated


of total A Level

Component 2: Externally set task

  • The early release paper will be issued on 1 February and will provide candidates with a number of themes, each with a range of written and visual starting points, briefs and stimuli
  • From these, one must be selected, upon which to base a response

Externally set task


80 marks
15 hours

This component is internally assessed and externally moderated


of total A Level

Year 12

  • Personal investigation. Project 1
  • Personal investigation. Project 2

Year 13

  • Completion of either project 1 or 2
  • Exam preparation