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S5/S6 Higher Photography

Higher Photography is another popular choice in S5 and S6, allowing pupils to broaden their skills in composition and image making through another media.

Aims of the course

The course encourages learners to be inspired and challenged by visually representing their personal thoughts and ideas through the medium of photography. Using an integrated approach to learning, learners will plan, develop and produce imaginative photographs.

They will also develop their appreciation of photographic work and practice. The skills that learners acquire by successfully completing the course will be valuable for learning, life and work.

The course allows learners to broaden and deepen their skills base, and to widen their horizons regarding and range of vocations.

The aims of the course are for learners to:

  • Communicate personal thoughts, feelings and ideas using photography
  • Develop technical and creative skills in using photographic media, techniques and processes
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of a range of photography practice
  • Develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking and reflective practice
  • Analyse the impact of social and cultural influences on photographers and their work
  • Become critically self-reflective autonomous learners

Learners will develop knowledge and understanding of camera techniques and controls and will investigate and analyse the factors which influence photographers and their work. They will apply their knowledge of light and image formation when creating photographic images. They will use exposure times, composition and framing in creatively for photographic effect, organise their files and output their photographic images.

Learners will explore and experiment with using a variety of photographic techniques, technology and processes. They will use their understanding of the social and cultural interplay between photographers and society when developing their own personal, creative approaches to photography. They will plan, produce and present photographic images in different styles and genres.

How will learners be assessed?

Project: Worth 100 marks (77%)

The learner will develop and extend the skills and knowledge developed in the course. They will be assessed through a project. The project will include opportunities for learners’ personalisation and choice. It will include researching and producing photographs. Learners will also evaluate their photographic work.

Question paper: Worth 30 marks (23%)

The question paper will assess candidates on their knowledge and understanding of photography from different genres and styles. The question paper will also sample more broadly from across the course and assess candidates on a wider range of knowledge and understanding than can be demonstrated in individual projects. This will include properties of light and image formation, and the use of camera controls and photographic processes for specific effect.


Learners should devote time out with school hours to building a personal collection of photographs related to their chosen theme. It is generally outside school that candidates will find appropriate inspirational material, and large collections can be built relatively easily. Learners will need to study written notes and complete written work in preparation for the Question Paper.