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BTEC National Diploma in Photography (720)

BTEC National Diploma in Photography (720)

About the course

The College offers opportunity to study at level 3 (A level equivalent) for students who wish to develop a comprehensive understanding of Photography - encompassing practical techniques, academic knowledge and technical skills. It is a popular option for both school leavers and successful Level 2 Diploma students. The course incorporates a mix of practicals, classroom lectures, industry visits and case study exercises.

Students will also receive training and assessment in a large range of additional qualifications, which will enhance their employability.

During the first year students will gain practical experience in taking photographs using both film and digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras, printing and processing black and white films, using Photoshop for basic manipulations to photos and basic studio photography.

Course modules

Additional Qualification(s)

Use Camera Techniques to Creatively Control Visual Outcomes

In this unit, learners will learn the correct techniques to prepare a digital camera for use. This will include factors such as battery life and image storage strategies. They will then explore the creative effects of using basic camera controls such as shutter speeds and aperture. They will also explore the visual effects produced by the use of different lenses. Following the capture of images they will use image processing software to label and manage the digital assets for further post production.

Print and Present a Portfolio of Photographs

In this unit learners will obtain the knowledge and practice necessary to produce high quality prints from their image files. This will include monitoring calibration, sizing, resolution, colour management, printer profiles, soft proofing and printer preparation. They will learn how to mount their images to present them as a panel of work.

Documentary Photography

This unit will give the learners the skills necessary to research and carry out 3 photojournalism projects. They will evaluate examples of photojournalism and relate this to their own work. Learners will select 3 events suitable for reportage and shoot and present a panel of photographs which reflect their own individual approach to the subject.

Experimental Photographic Imaging

In this unit the learners will explore alternative methods of producing photographic images. They will evaluate the quality and aesthetics of images obtained using non-conventional techniques and produce a portfolio of 12 creative images using 3 chosen techniques.

Year 1

Studio Photography

Photographing in the studio environment allows you, as a photographer, to create the perfect image, using your skills and knowledge to control every element of the shot, including lighting, composition and background.

Non-Digital Photographic Techniques

In this unit, you will develop skills in non-digital photographic materials, techniques and processes including working in a traditional photographic darkroom. You will explore and experiment with a range of these, reflecting on how they can be used to produce good quality photographic work.

Photographic Materials, Techniques and Processes

This unit will introduce you to a range of photographic materials, techniques and processes. You will explore both their technical characteristics and creative potential, using this experimentation to support your response to a photographic brief. Developing your skills and understanding of photographic materials, techniques and processes, and reviewing your working practice and development will help improve your work.

Fine Art Materials, Techniques and Processes

In this unit, you will explore the breadth of materials, techniques and processes used to create fine art. You will investigate their characteristics and properties, and experiment with the technical processes to develop an understanding of how fine artists communicate ideas. You will then develop some of your own ideas and outcomes using the techniques you have learned, and review the development of your skills in this area.

Developing and Realising Creative Intentions

This unit will give you the opportunity to develop and realise your own photography idea. You will take into consideration all the aspects of photography you have learned throughout the course and produce a photography piece that exemplifies your skills and knowledge.

Year 2

Location Photography

Developing the ability to shoot on location allows you to use the whole world as your studio. You will use landscapes, cityscapes and the urban environment as your backdrop, creating amazing photographs by using available ambient light that you could not recreate in the studio environment.

Digital Image Capture and Editing

In this unit, you will explore different ways of digitally capturing and editing images. You will identify the resources and software required for managing image capture, and develop skills in image editing and manipulation. You will also learn about the legal and ethical considerations in relation to image making and publicity before applying this understanding to developing imagery in response to a brief.

Professional Practice in Art and Design

Art, design and photography practitioners are often freelancers and entrepreneurs who need to find ways to earn a living. They can do this by selling their own work through an online marketplace, producing work for a commission, or responding to an invitation to submit work from a client or company. In this unit, you will become a freelance photography practitioner or entrepreneur, and explore real opportunities to produce work for a particular market.

Managing a Client Brief

In this unit, you will develop skills required to successfully manage a client brief. You will learn how to interpret and respond to a brief, developing ideas within the constraints set by the client. You will learn the importance of professional presentation skills when putting your ideas together for a client. You will review and reflect on the process, justifying your thought processes, decisions and selection of final ideas.

Entry requirements & additional information

Entry requirements

These courses give a good technical training and education providing a vocational alternative to A Levels and the opportunity for successful students to progress to Higher Education. Students are normally aged 16 or over and the following requirements are needed:

· An English GCSE at C (4) or higher plus a minimum of three others at C (4) or higher, including Maths or Science.

In addition Learning Areas may apply specific agreed aptitude assessments that assist selection.

Applicants for all courses in Photography are expected to show a strong commitment to the industry and have a strong personal statement. It is also preferable, but not essential to have a GCSE in Art, Design, Photography, Textiles or another creative discipline.

Learning and assessment

Assessments will include assignments, presentations, reports portfolios and exhibitions.


As a course equivalent to A Level the Level 3 BTEC National Diploma is an ideal springboard for progression to a Foundation Degree or BA (Hons) depending on UCAS points gained.


Employment opportunities in media, photography and its related industries are currently very good. The National Diploma in Photography provides the qualification and experience for entry into the industry at an operational level with future prospects for management.

Special requirements

1 Specialist Clothing and Equipment: Waterproof jacket and sturdy footwear essential (approx. £75). A digital SLR camera is recommended (approx. £300). Appropriate memory cards and photographic paper (approx. £35). (A full list will be given out at induction)

2 Extra Costs: Field trips to a variety of locations such as trade shows, events or gallery entrance may incur entrance fee charges (approx. £20). Black and white film stock can be processed on the premises, but colour film and digital printing will incur processing costs (approx. £30-40). There is an optional study tour abroad (approx. £350)