What is GCSE Photography?

This is an exciting two year course, taught by artist-teachers who will draw out your creativity, and inspire you to develop original ideas.

Course Details

Qualification Exam Board Specification
GCSE Photography AQA 8206

Department Leader

Miss J. Sharman
Department Leader for Art

Course Overview

In the Art department at Kepier we follow the AQA GCSE Art and Design (Photography) specification. During the course you will build up a portfolio of work that is carefully selected and thoughtfully presented. This will include two extended projects responding to a theme in an in-depth way. Evidence will take the form of online and printed sketchbooks, development pages and test pieces. Projects will be concluded by a final piece outcome, usually taking the form of a digitally edited or physically edited photograph. Work can be presented in a series of imagery, or a stand alone piece depending on the relevance to your exploration of the theme.

After Christmas in Year 11 you will receive an exam paper from AQA. You will choose ONE question to work from and then have a limited number of weeks to carefully research your thoughts and ideas in response to this chosen theme. This will take the form of a sketchbook filled with primary research, artist connections and exploration development in editing. You will then take your sketchbook into a ten hour practical exam. During the exam time you will edit your selected raw photographs and produce a final outcome to finish your project which will be completed in exam conditions.


We expect students to spend 3 hours per week, as required by AQA as homework in addition to their timetabled classes. Homework is essential to ensure that deadlines are being adhered to, and to achieve the best possible portfolio. High quality photographs are needed to edit successfully using digital editing software and to help develop the project theme.

To recap, the course is made up of two components:

Coursework – 60% of final mark

Portfolio broken down into two projects:

The formal elements of photography
and Personal project

Externally set assignment- 40% of final mark

Exam broken down into:

One sketchbook and exam (10 hours)

Once all of the course has been completed (after the 10 hour exam) both components are examined by the staff within the art department and assessed by an external moderator. AQA marking criteria state that both components are assessed using the four Assessment Objectives which are equally weighted out of a mark of 24:

  • 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.

This course ends with an exhibition of your work in a public place/space to celebrate the best of what you have achieved over the course.

If you are considering studying any photography related subject after leaving Kepier, this course gives you the perfect grounding to attend local A level or BTEC courses in Durham or Sunderland, which can lead to studying similar courses at degree level.


Got A Question?

If you have a question about Photography you can use the form below to contact Miss Sharman, Department Leader for Art.


    Updated: 25/01/2023