Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Assessment Result!


I got my assessment result email. You may be able to guess from the use of an exclamation mark in my title that I PASSED!

So that was a relief. I mean, I was pretty sure I would pass from the tutor feedback throughout and from my own self-critique / learning journey over the course, but it’s still a huge relief to see it confirmed.

I was a little disheartened when I saw the actual mark (62%) and the breakdown over the four assessment criteria. I realised with my reaction to the mark that I hadn’t really targeted or predicted a %, but evidently in my head I hoped for more than 62%!

Breakdown and comments

  • Demonstration of Technical & Visual Skills:
    • “Very competent technical and visual skills”
    • 27/40
  • Quality of Outcome:
    • “Competent realisation of ideas, presented well, showing consistency in judgement. Effective grasp of ideas and communication of visual ideas”
    • 12/20
  • Demonstration of Creativity:
    • “Some evidence of creativity, little evidence of risk-taking with a few imaginative outcomes, some evidence of a developing personal voice”
    • 11/20
  • Context:
    • “Evidence of self-reflection and research, and satisfactory ability to analyse and synthesise information”
    • 12/20

The overall comments at the end:

“Your commitment to the course is underlined by the ability to maintain an overall clean and geometric aesthetic throughout the assignments. The responses and re-edits suggested by your tutor have been well responded to and have improved each piece of work.

To be able to continue your development and working practice a better balance is needed between your technical competence and context / creativity of your thematic work. This will come through more research and the ability to analyse and self reflect on your work.”

My reactions

“Competent”, “effective” and “satisfactory” are the words that jumped out. I’d like to get better adjectives next time :-)

I must confess I was initially a little dismayed at being called out on a lack of creativity. However, I do need to take this on board and start to be braver, more experimental – more personal? – in my future efforts.

I’m pleased that I got a reasonably good mark on Technical & Visual Skills as I can now be confident that I’m getting to grips with that and can turn my attention and my learning to the more creative elements of photography.

One observation I had was that I thought the assessors were a little more critical / less forgiving that my tutor was; I subsequently found out from online forums that this is a common complaint and not limited to me or my tutor! I’ll take that on board and for future courses work on the assumption that my tutors may err on the side of encouragement rather than prepare you for the more critical eye of the assessor…!

In the end I realised that if this result scaled up to the final degree mark, I’d get a 2.1, which isn’t bad. I got a 2.1 on my first degree over 20 years ago, and that didn’t bother me too much!

SO – onwards and upwards! (I’m over halfway through People & Place already)



I finally got around to looking at the overall AOP results for the July assessment round. I know that photography isn’t a competitive sport :-) but my interest was piqued by Carol’s comment below that the marks were relatively low this year. So I thought I’d take a look at least for some context – although I still find the idea of comparing myself to others a little odd on a creative course!

Anyway – seeing the context did actually make me feel better! I was closer to the top of the list than I expected. Yes, the average marks were quite low, with two-thirds of students getting a 2.2 equivalent mark (50-59%) this time around. So I’m happier with my 62% now than I was when I looked at it in isolation…


9 thoughts on “Assessment Result!

  1. I can’t stand assessors that are negative and don’t encourage students that are passionate about their subject . Don’t be deterred by this . It’s what you get out of it that’s important .i would say just go out and enjoy your photography and forget about the course . Well done for being so conscientious and passing .

    • Ah, thanks for your comment, but I’m not deterred really… Taking it all on board and thinking about how I can improve! Maybe I should edit the above if I sound a bit too negative! :-/

  2. Very well done indeed – 62% sounds good to me. When you’ve got some time I’d like to know how you packaged up your work for submission as I am about to start that now myself. Anyway will keep following your new course and again well done. My last tutor only ever commented on the negative aspects of my work which is not exactly motivating…….

    • A quick response to both you and Carol on the question of how I packaged it up… after lots of head-scratching and conflicting advice online :-) I landed on the following approach:
      – mainly online submission: I tidied up each assignment blog post then created a new homepage that clearly linked to the assignment pages
      – supported by a box of A4 prints that I sent over to OCA HQ – I decided to print only a sample (4-6) of images from each assignment (to print them all would have been almost 70 prints, an expensive job and to be honest not sure if assessors want to look at 70 prints per student?)
      – I got a nice portfolio box from Silverprint – apparently assessors prefer boxes to books, easier to handle the prints
      – I deliberately excluded Assignment 1 as (a) it’s not formally part of assessment and (b) I thought it was my weakest work by far

      If you want any more info, drop me a line on … I may even have photos of the submission somewhere…

  3. Well done Rob and congratulations – well deserved in my book. Don’t be too disappointed with the 62% – the marks for TAOP seem to have been overall quite low this year so your 62% looks good to me. Like Teresa I would be interested in hearing how you submitted everything as I have the assessment experience to look forward to in November.

  4. I just took a look at your assignments, and they are so great!! I try to understand what they mean with “personal voice” and “being creative”, but everything takes much more time than just one course. I would be very glad if I even got 62% on my submission!! I only just finished assignment 3 and I think it’s hard enough to develop personal voices and creativity and taking risks, besides all the other thing we have to learn. Well done Rob!!

  5. I like your ‘edit’ – glad to be of assistance :-)

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