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Photography and Graphic Communication – BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma

Do you love looking at and creating images?  If you are keen to develop your understanding of photography and graphic-based communication, then this course is ideal for you; you will spend two years immersed in it.  Gain a thorough understanding of traditional darkroom techniques, as well as cutting edge digital photographic processes.  You will learn how to master Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and other software used in industry.  You will research a wide array of artists to discover how they go about producing their work, and allow their work to inform your ideas. Taught by a team of professional and experienced photographers and graphics professionals, you will also get the opportunity to visit galleries and attend exhibitions throughout your course.  All of this will help you to build a portfolio of work to enable you to progress to university or work.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including a creative art-based subject and English Language, OR successful completion of a relevant BTEC Level 2 Diploma/First Diploma at Merit grade or above.

You will also be required to present a portfolio of creative work at your interview. Tips for what we would like to see includes:

  • Creative page layouts for graphics (if available)
  • A selection of photographic work
  • Examples of sketchbooks from Year 11 onwards, including digital and traditional artwork where possible
  • You will also need to discuss the work of a photographer or artist who you find inspiring.
Course Content

This exciting course provides students with the opportunity to explore both traditional and digital photographic and graphic techniques / technology.

Projects will be varied and focus on subjects such as:

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Documentary Practices
  • Portrait
  • The studio
  • Branding
  • Digital illustration.

The opportunity to work for real clients and commissions may be possible. You will also be encouraged to enter local, national and international competitions.

Visits to London-based and local museums / galleries will provide you with additional insight into the work of other artists and designers. The course may also offer an art study tour within the UK and/or European countries. The course will culminate in an exhibition of your own work.

How will I be taught?

This practical course is taught through specialist workshops, studio-based assignments, and live assignments that will involve working with the community and real clients.

During the course artists and designers will be invited to lecture and provide demonstrations of their work. This will be valuable experience for students interested in a career within art. photography or graphics.

How will I be assessed?

This course consists of a 90-credit Diploma in Year 1 followed by the Extended Diploma in Year 2.

Each project brief covers units that build up through the two years of the course, to provide an eighteen unit award. All units are assessed at either Pass, Merit or Distinction grade, with a final grade awarded at the end of the course.

Will I need any extra equipment?

No, although your own digital SLR camera and computer will be beneficial (this can be discussed at interview stage).

What qualifications will I get?

Successful students will be awarded a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Photography and Graphic Communication, which is the equivalent to three A-levels.

Please Note: upon completion of the course your certification will be listed under BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design but the unit breakdown will clearly show your specialist pathway in Photography and Graphic Communication.

What will it allow me to do in the future?

On completion of the course students typically progress to HNC, HND or BA Honours degree level courses, in a wide variety of related disciplines. Students progressing into Higher Education should achieve a Merit grading or above to gain sufficient UCAS points.

Some students may opt for a further one-year BTEC Level 3/4 Foundation Diploma course before applying to university.

Alternatively, you may find employment or a related apprenticeship.

Course Information

Students will be expected to establish a habit of reading books, magazines and quality press as part of your studies. Assignments and tests for Functional Skills will be incorporated into the programme of learning.

We would recommend dedicating 15 hours per week to home/independent study. You will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of educational study visits, which will incur an additional cost. Costs of day trips range between £5 – £30 and residential visits between £100 -£450, depending on the location.

Further Information

All information was accurate at the time of publishing, and may be subject to change.

For general College enquiries, please call 023 9279 7979 or email college@southdowns.ac.uk.


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