Course specification and structure
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UDPHOTGR - BA Photography

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Bachelor of Arts Level Honours
Possible interim awards Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Higher Education, Certificate of Higher Education, Bachelor of Arts
Total credits for course 360
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Subject Area Art
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 3 YEARS 7 YEARS
Part-time 6 YEARS 7 YEARS
Course leader Mick Williamson

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

The course is taught through four parallel year-long modules at each level of study. The modules are related across each year and also across different levels. This enables an integrated approach to the subject and supports students to become well-rounded and grounded professional practitioners.

Students who would benefit from a period of preparation before progressing onto degree studies can opt to take a four-year Extended degree course beginning with Year 0 in either Film, Media and Music or Art and Design as a starting point.

Teaching and Learning Strategies:
The BA Hons Photography course aims to provide an intellectual and creative framework, where photographic practice as a cultural, intellectual and professional pursuit may be developed. Teaching and learning approaches combine a balance of structured teaching with independent research and practice.

Level 4 introduces students to University level study, practice-based research and working methods and provides an overall induction for the course. A series of introductory workshops and set projects provide grounding in the subject and discipline, enabling students to develop an independent approach to project work with increasing levels of self-directed study and negotiated project work subsequently undertaken throughout levels 5 and 6.

Level 5 consolidates practical, theoretical and professional skills. It fosters an independent perspective through the integration of critical skills and photographic practice. Attention is paid to professional practice and future employability. In consultation with their tutor, students will present a draft project proposal and initial dissertation proposal for feedback and approval before commencing Level 6.

Level 6 is centred on the student’s own area of interest. Work across the four L6 modules enables students to synthesise and consolidate their learning. By this stage, students are expected to demonstrate their ability to originate, develop, manage and realise a major project that demonstrates a creative awareness of the contexts in which their practice operates. A high standard of practical and conceptual competency is required to pass at Level 6.

Projects of various kinds are the main vehicle of learning and teaching. Project-based approaches are introduced at level 4 and developed across all levels of study, using the Negotiated Project Proposal and self-evaluation guidelines. These support the development of self-evaluative skills and the implementation of independent research and study. Initially, projects and exercises will be framed and proposed by the teaching team. As the course progresses, the conception and management of project work is transferred to the student. In level 6, students are expected to work independently with tutorial input and feedback. Project teaching and learning is supported through taught sessions, workshop demonstrations, hand-outs, briefs, lectures, tutorials, displays of work, critiques and presentations, portfolio preparations, essays, library research, seminars, visits and web based learning. Project working is reviewed on a regular and ongoing basis. Each student receives regular feedback on the progress of their project work prior to the final assessment at the end of each level.

Peer review, critiques and self-evaluation encourage students to analyse and critically evaluate their own work and the work of others. Communication and presentation skills are emphasised.

Seminars, studio groups and lectures are usually structured around a set topic or key texts. Discussions can be staff or student led and can involve the presentation of papers, theories, practice or studio work. Lectures are a platform for debate and introduce a wide range of approaches and ideas about photographic practice and its wider cultural context.

Self-directed Study is a key aspect of the course. Students are encouraged to engage with personal development planning (PDP) to enable them to reflect on, plan and review their work at each level.

Workshops and workshop demonstrations are a key feature of the course. Students will attend induction/s to health and safety requirements of related workshops before undertaking workshop practice/ modules or attending open access classes.

Employability is an important theme throughout the course and embedded in all modules providing an opportunity for students to link their studies to career and personal/professional development. Students are encouraged to test out and demonstrate key professional skills of decision-making, self-evaluation, self-promotion as well as the ability to engage the viewer.

In addition, students are encouraged to make maximum use of the resources available to them in terms of the IT provision both within the department and the library. Blended Learning /weblearn includes the provision of course and module information on the web. Online lecture notes, feedback, and blogs are used in addition to traditional teaching methods.

Course aims

The course aims to:

  • Support students to develop the necessary independence and confidence, to develop an individual photographic practice;
  • Promote a lively, creative and collaborative learning environment, where dialogue and exchange are supported through live projects, exhibitions, workshops and events;
  • Foster a supportive and dynamic studio culture that encourages students from a broad range of backgrounds, to engage in learning and creative enquiry;
  • Support students to identify their ambitions and enable them to develop the skills required to go on to early stage professional practice and/or further study;
  • Prepare students for the challenges and demands of the changing nature of photography and related practice;
  • Foster an understanding of the social, ethical and sustainable responsibilities of creative practice.

The course recognises the complex and changing nature of photographic practice, which is informed by technological, social and cultural changes and expectations. The course aims to equip students with the practical and conceptual tools required to negotiate new challenges and to set out as professional practitioners. It also offers students an introduction to undergraduate level study that can be further developed at postgraduate level if appropriate.

The BA Photography course is located within the CASS community of artists, designers, film-makers, musicians and architects. The Faculty offers students the opportunity to study what it means to make art, photography, film, animation etc, within the context of the East End of London.
The Cass Faculty holds an archive of 'East End' photographic practice, while faculty-wide research has focused on ideas of 'social value' and 'wellbeing', offering students, both a direct and local frame for their practice.

Course learning outcomes

Level 4 Learning Outcomes:
On completing the level, the student should be able to:

1. Create work which demonstrates research, exploration and an engagement in the subject and course of study;

2. Demonstrate understanding of practices, theories and debates relevant to their own interests;

3. Identify, test and synthesise visual and other research skills to support the development of a photographic practice;

4. Test processes and develop technical skills to support the development of a photographic practice;

5. Make independent judgements and demonstrate critical awareness in relation to their developing practice;

6. Employ presentation skills and document their work both visually and in writing.

7. Demonstrate an ability to manage workloads and meet deadlines;

Level 5 Learning Outcomes:
On completing the level the student should be able to:

1. Devise and produce photographic work based on independent research explorations;

2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key genres of photographic practice and situate their practice within wider professional and cultural contexts;

3. Apply informed critical judgement, reflection and evaluation to support their developing practice;

4. Identify, test and apply technical processes as appropriate to support their photographic practice;

5. Explore approaches to presentation and evaluate their effectiveness;

6. Document and communicate their practice in an appropriate form employing developing professional skills both visually and in writing;

7. Identify, collect, archive, analyse, critique and annotate research material from study resources to support their project;

8. Demonstrate an engagement with the subject and an ability to organise and manage their own learning and practice;

9. Negotiate and interact effectively with others, employing teamwork skills.

Level 6 Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the course, the student is expected to:

1. Devise, manage and produce a coherent body of photographic work based on their studies;

2. Analyse, evaluate and reflect on their own work and the work of others;

3. Apply informed critical judgement and decision making in relation to their research, their practice and its presentation;

4. Identify and develop appropriate technical skills and processes to support the realisation of their photographic practice;

5. Demonstrate an ability to understand and evaluate the reception of their work and employ effective use of presentation skills;

6. Document their work in appropriate ways to communicate their intentions both visually and in writing;

7. Employ research skills and resourcefulness to support their practice and ambitions.

8. Demonstrate an ability to organise and sustain their own learning by managing workloads, meeting deadlines and employing effective approaches to professional practice;

9. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical implications of their practice (eg. environmental, social or economic).

Principle QAA benchmark statements

QAA Subject Benchmark for Art & Design

Assessment strategy

Students are assessed through a variety of methods related to the course outcomes, as set out above. Assessment includes a combination of diagnostic, formative and summative methods. Students are expected to participate reflectively in assessment. Self-evaluation is an aspect of a number of modules. Students will use the criteria given to reflect upon their development on the module. This, together with the assessment teams written assessment report, forms the basis at levels 4 and 5 for discussion at assessment feedback sessions.

Formative Assessment is built into all modules and is designed to provide students with feedback on progress and inform development. Students are expected to maintain appropriate records of their work as it develops within each module, throughout all levels and to take part in regular tutorial, critique and seminar discussions regarding their own and others’ coursework. These sessions have a diagnostic function aimed at enabling students to meet the intended learning outcomes of each module.

Summative assessment provides a measure of achievement made in respect of performance in relation to learning outcomes. On completion of each level, progressing students will be required to submit a portfolio of their work on each module together with all supporting material. Assessment criteria reflect the learning outcomes for each level.

Course specific regulations

ACADEMIC PROGRESSION: As a condition of progressing from level 4 to 5 and level 5 to 6, students are required to have gained 120 credits per level, that is, by achieving pass marks (40%) in all four modules in the preceding level of study.

Level 6: In order to achieve an honours degree award on this course, students must have completed and passed each Level 6 module at 40% or above.

Part-time study is defined as 60 credits per year. Consequently, in part-time mode, the duration of study for a 360-credit degree will be 6 years. The pattern of study in this instance shall be as follows:

Year 1 – FA4001, FA4004
Year 2 – CP4013, FA4003
Year 3 – FA5001, FA5004
Year 4 – CP5013, FA5003
Year 5 – CP6013, FA6001
Year 6 – FA6003, FA6004

Modules required for interim awards

ALL modules are core and compulsory and must be passed to complete the award.

Career opportunities

The Photography BA course opens up a number of job roles in the photography and creative industries, enabling you to pursue a career in magazines and newspapers, editorial and freelance photography, archive work, photo libraries, education and local or national arts organisations.

Previous students have gone on to find work at a diverse range of companies and have taken up roles such as photographer, curator, photo journalist, web designer and videographer. Others have used the transferable skills they developed through this course to fulfil roles in local government, teaching and entrepreneurship.

Successful artists who have attended The Cass include Tracy Emin, Paddy Jolley, Sam Taylor-Wood, Suky Best, Leticia Valverdes and many others.

This degree is also excellent preparation for postgraduate study.

Entry requirements

In addition to the University's standard entry requirements, you should have:

  • a minimum of grades CCC in three A levels in art or design subjects (or a minimum of 96 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma/Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Progression Diploma or Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits)
  • GCSE English at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

Applicants with relevant professional qualifications or extensive professional experience will also be considered on a case by case basis.

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications. We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Suitable applicants living in the UK will be invited to a portfolio interview. Applicants living outside the UK will be required to submit a portfolio of work via email.

If you do not have traditional qualifications or cannot meet the entry requirements for this undergraduate degree, you may still be able to gain entry by completing the Film, Photography and Media Extended Degree (with Foundation Year).

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2014/15 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 24 Jun 2014 Last validation date 24 Jun 2014  
JACS codes W640 (Photography): 100%
Route code PHOTGR

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 04 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP4013 Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Art) Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM
FA4001 Studio Practice 1 Ways of Seeing Core 30        
FA4003 Studio Practice 3 Core 30        
FA4004 Studio Practice 2: Photography Core 30        

Stage 2 Level 05 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP5013 Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Art) Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM
FA5006 Methods and Enquiry 1 Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON AM
FA5008 Professional Practice 1: Photography Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON PM
FA5P01 Project Work 2 Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM

Stage 3 Level 06 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP6013 Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (... Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR WED AM
FA6007 Professional Practice 2: Photography Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON PM
FA6010 Methods and Enquiry 2 Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON AM
FA6P01 Major Project Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM