Photography GCSE

Full name of specification

GCSE Lens Based Media – Photography

Exam board specification link 

What is GCSE Photography

Photography GCSE aims to allow students to develop and refine their own ideas, supported by an understanding of their context and what has informed them. Students work through purposeful engagement to build their own body of work.

Why study this course?

Photography is increasingly popular as a GCSE choice. It encourages the exploration of photography as an artistic medium. It combines well with more traditional subjects, providing an outlet for creativity. Photography can be a useful addition to a student’s portfolio of qualifications and can also help to secure admission to Art College or university.

What can you expect from this course?

Students must develop and apply the knowledge, understanding and skills specified in the Subject content to realise personal intentions relevant to photography and their selected area(s) of study.
The following aspects of the knowledge, understanding and skills are defined in further detail to ensure students’ work is clearly focused and relevant to photography.

How is it assessed?

Coursework 60% (GCSE Personal Investigation) Externally set project 40% (8-10 week preparation period followed by a 15 hour exam in which to make a final outcome)

What are the entry requirements?

You should have some photography skills and be willing to work hard to be thorough in your work and to continue developing your skills.

How will this prepare me?

The creative pathway lays the foundation for both the technical, analytical and problem-solving skills required for future creative and academic endeavours. Students will not only create a portfolio of work to represent their skills and interests, but also will gain confidence in their abilities as creators. Students develop understanding of Photography and Lens based media skills which will prepare them for work in a number of creative careers, as well as transferable skills such as problem solving, divergent thinking, practical work, and learning as a result of research, experimentation, reflection, and resilience.

Careers/job ideas

  • Fashion photographer
  • Portrait photographer
  • Landscape photographer
  • Event photographer
  • Commercial photographer
  • Product photographer
  • Research photographer
  • Games Designer
  • Interior photographer
  • Property photographer
  • TV/Film photographer
  • Art photographer
  • Sports photographer
  • Documentary photographer
  • Event Videographer
  • Fashion Videographer
  • Research Videographer
  • Commercial Videographer

What will I study?

In year one, students will complete an introduction to photography and lens-based media. This will cover composition, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, video/stop motion and photo editing using Photoshop. For the remaining time in year one, students will complete a series of small projects responding to a range of different themes (past examples have included Movement, environment and Macro Photography). The focus of the projects will be on developing a range of in-camera skills and developing an analytical thought process and connecting photography to the photographic industry. Students will participate in school trips that expand their skills and knowledge in the subject. They will be expected to shoot in various locations that will range from our in-school studio to external locations to improve and develop their skills in studio lighting and location lighting. The work created in year one will be used to create a portfolio, which will prepare students for interviews for college and apprenticeships.


In Year 2, students will begin by researching and planning a personal investigation project (Worth 60% of their overall GCSE grade). This will be an opportunity for students to develop the skills learnt in year one and specialise in one (or more) area(s) of Photography – Lens-based media. Students who opt for the Photography qualification may focus on more traditional skills (landscape photography, fashion and advertising, product photography, events and commercial photography, digital work, moving images, and more). Students will then complete an Externally Set assignment (Worth 40% of overall grade) which will follow the same process as previous projects, and will culminate in a practical exam where students can create responses to the project.

Additional activities within this subject

Illustration, photography, fashion/textile, concept design, digital art, 3D art

Useful links or Apps



Stephanie Mansfield