At KS5, both fine art and photography are offered as A levels; both are taught using the OCR specification. These courses are similar in structure to the GCSE, however the expectation is now that students are working at a much more advanced level. There are two components to this course.
Component 1 consists of a personal investigation in which students are expected to produce a portfolio of practical work showing their personal response to either a starting point, brief, scenario or stimulus, devised and provided by the student or centre, and also a related study which is an essay of a guided minimum of 1000 words. This is worth 60% of the overall qualification.
Component 2 is an externally set task which is released by the exam board each February. It provides learners with a number of themes, each with a range of written and visual starting points, briefs and stimuli. Students then produce a response based on one of these options over the course of 15 hours. This is worth 40% of the overall qualification.
For both Art and photography A level, several projects are completed over Years 12 and 13. Students complete cycles of work for each project which allows them to develop strong portfolios. Throughout Year 12, students are encouraged to explore styles that they might not have encountered before. This provides opportunities to develop skills which they could then go on to further specialise in. In Year 13 they are then able to focus on their final portfolios to submit for assessment as well as completing the exam.