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Photography at Aquinas is an exciting and challenging subject that encourages students to be creative and show a more personal understanding of Photography. The aim of this course is to promote a broad based learning experience across a range of themes in digital lens based processes and practical techniques. The course aims to encourage creative thinking and artistic understanding, as well as developing students own use of the camera.

During Year One students will build up skills through techniques and processes, some of which will have done at GCSE some of which will be new experiences, all of which will be at a more Advance Level. The aim of the first year is to ensure that students can experience the full range of digital lens based learning in order to enhance skills and techniques. Students will be introduced to a variety of themes, from architecture to still life, responding to artists and photographers, focusing on experimenting with different aspects of the camera; for those new to Photography learning their way around the camera, for more experienced Photographers improving and adapting to their strengths. Students will also respond in practical ways.

In Year Two students are expected to work more independently, developing work over a longer period of time, showing a higher level of personal interpretation and working on developing ideas more in-depth. Students will use research into the work of artists, photographers and designers to develop their own knowledge and understanding Photography throughout the two years.

Qualifications & Assessments

Exam Board AQA
Level Level 3
Qualification A Level
Assessment Method 100% Non-Examined Assessment
Entry Requirements Entry Requirements

Year 1 – Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

Students will gain experience of working with the Digital SLR learning how to use the camera from basic controls through to manual settings, from lighting techniques to experimental processes.

Alongside each topic students will be introduced to photographers and artists to inspire and respond to both with their photography and also through practical responses such as ‘drawing into’, wax entrapment, tape transfers, cut-outs, and digital manipulation. There are two main projects the Portfolio where students will respond to a range of short topics to build up a folder of techniques, followed by an extended project where students respond to one theme for the final part of year 1, in a more personal way.

Year 2 – Progression and Formal Assessment

Building on skills learnt in the first year through two assessed projects:

  • Component 1: Personal Investigation (60%)
  • Component 2: Externally Set Assignment (40%)

Studying Photography at Aquinas can lead to a wide variety of courses at University. Students have gone on to study Film Production at Salford University and Future Works, Photography at Leeds College of Art, Advertising and Marketing at Leeds. Some students have gone on to study an Art and Design Foundation Course before applying to University, many of our students have gained places on the MMU Foundation Course or the Stockport Foundation Course. Many Art and Design related degree courses expect students to have an Art Foundation Course after studying A-level.

Students who study A Level Photography alongside other subjects have gone on to study a wide range of different subjects on to Higher Education, gaining degrees in Fine Art, Costume, amongst other courses as well as applying for Apprenticeships or gaining employment.


Throughout the course there will be visits to museums, art galleries and universities. There is also an optional trip to Barcelona.

For more information about trips relating to this course including Barcelona please see the Trips and Travel page


As the second year draws to its close the U6 students have the opportunity to organise the end of year finalé which is the Art and Design Exhibition.

This event showcases the work of the U6 students ensuring that each student has both final pieces from their final year on display, with sketchbooks and mounted work, presented around the Art and Design Department, along with the other courses from the Art and Design Department. This has always been a very successful night.

News & Blog

Latest From Aquinas

You can never rely on the British weather, from pouring down rain, to beautiful blue sky, our L6 successfully completed their Duke of Edinburgh Gold practice expedition. What an amazing, all be it, wet, experience they had. Their resilience shown to keep going, support each other and work as a team to finish what was […]

Photoshop of students walking up a hill

After sadly losing our dear friend and colleague Grainne last year the Art & Design department are raising money for Sarcoma UK. Those of you that knew Grainne will know, she was energetic, loved life and the great outdoors and was always up for a challenge. So today (7th June) we are hiking 3560ft to […]

Photograph of the art department travelling to Snowdonia

In February this year, Aquinas College took part in some research led by Associate Professor Tomomi Ohba from Tama University in Japan. The research was looking at foreign language education across the world and Aquinas was one of the schools approached in the UK because of our teaching of Japanese. Classes were observed in all […]

Screenshot of the Japanese university zoom call.

In January, 10 of our brightest chemistry students took part in the annual RSC Chemistry Olympiad. We would like to congratulate all students for taking part in this really tough national competition. Simply participating speaks volumes about the character of the students involved, showing their determination and resilience in the face of academic challenge, attributes […]

Photograph of students holding their certificates.