Course specification and structure
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UDPHOTFY - BA (Hons) Photography (including foundation year)

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, Preparatory Diploma, Preparatory Certificate
Total credits for course 480
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Subject Area Art
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Part-time 6 YEARS 8 YEARS
Full-time 4 YEARS 8 YEARS
Course leader  

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

The focus of the BA (Hons) Photography course is on learning and teaching in the creation of photographs. The student develops graduate-level skills of critical thinking using concepts and principles in the media of analogue and digital photography, as well as in the publishing and display of photography to wider audiences.

In development of this course, consideration has been given to the following: the Subject Benchmark Statements (Art and Design 2017 and History of Art, Architecture and Design 2017), the Higher Education Qualification Framework, the University’s Strategic Plan and Student Charter, the University’s Academic Regulations, the views and feedback of students, external examiners and employers/clients, developments within the subject area, and the changing needs of the cultural/commercial sectors and professions. Due consideration has also been given to inclusivity in course and assessment design, and specifically to the transition from the Level 3 year to the Level 4 – 6 BA programme.

Embedded in the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, the course draws on the strengths of teaching staff from across the School and the wide circle of academic and cultural contacts and collaborators attached to the School and University.

The course seeks to provide and foster:

• learning through direct experience, connecting academic and creative studies;
• student choice in subject and style of learning;
• a culture of independent and critical thought, encouraging the challenging of received ideas and practice;
• employability attributes, through live projects engaging with professional photographers, external partners, photography institutions and photography organisations that create a realistic environment of professional expectations for photography students, preparing them for graduate-level employment;
• engagement across the School and University, providing opportunities for collaborative project work during study;
• individualised learning and study support opportunities, that cater for different learning styles;
• awareness of the duty of all to understand the impact of their decisions and actions as photographers and to strive to act responsibly.

The course operates within a cluster programme of related undergraduate awards, bringing together best practice from related fields. Four cognate BA awards (Fine Art, Painting, Photography and Fashion Photography) enable students to explore the fundamental aspects of photography through a focus on business, fashion or different art worlds and their audiences. The foundation year provides a programme of study in widely applicable skills, knowledge and contextual awareness that prepares students for level 4 study, including expectations of assessment and preparation for assessment in higher education. The foundation year offers a safe and managed transition from the directed learning of secondary education and regular contact with the staff and students of the level 4-6 cohort through workshops, critiques, exhibitions and cluster and School-wide events.

The course enables the art student to embrace material and immaterial exploration in contemporary photography, thinking through making and learning by doing. The course draws on the wide range of contexts current in contemporary photography. The student develops skills in photography to enable the testing, sampling and representation of their ideas. Using the Cass workshop facilities and expertise, the photography student works to experiment and collaborate with students and experts, using a wide range of material techniques in traditional, analogue and digital workshop processes.

Historically, photographers have expressed through their work the latest technological advances, in step with cultural, social and political developments that colour our material culture and vernacular history. Important photography archives are kept with London institutions such as the British Library, the London Metropolitan Archives, the Imperial War Museum, the Paul Mellon Centre and the RIBA Library which allow us locally to research sources, methods and approaches for contemporary photography practice.

Learning and teaching on the course is rooted in a studio structure that enables students to engage with different photography projects from different positions in photography. The studios provide opportunities of live briefs and real settings. These provide the context for photography students to develop skills in critical thinking about photographs and their uses.

Throughout the course, students are asked to consider and position themselves and their skills and interests in relation to world of work in photography to develop a portfolio that expresses their individual practice. Students work through assignments and projects, steadily building on existing skills, developing and realising new ideas and concepts. This approach ensures that the student is guided through the acquisition of key knowledge, skills and critical development, as the course progresses.

Each year in levels 4 - 6, the course comprises four year-long modules in the areas of photography studio practice, project development and realisation, critical and contextual studies, technical skills and professional practice. Throughout the preparatory foundation year, students are prepared with the skills and knowledge in research and development for photography, a range of realisation techniques and contextual awareness to enable a secure and confident transition to level 4. The foundation year is designed as three stages.

Stage 1 introduces and establishes a common ground of new experiences, values and practical skills. It lays the foundation for the course and serves as a base from which more independent work can be developed. Classes, workshops, inductions and tasks are relatively short and focus on substantial production and skills acquisition.

Stage 2 is more open-ended, with a series of longer projects and more choice and decision making for the student who is encouraged to apply, reinforce and develop effective practices from Stage 1 to establish a personal perspective, responsibility for time-management, self-knowledge and a sense of direction for their own creative practice. Direct experience of possible choices for subject-area of study ahead are through Cass subject-area tutors involvement in Stage 2 studio projects generally and from specific subject-area studio projects run by Cass undergraduate subject-area tutors that include use of subject area studios, workshops, technical facilities and expertise. Students experience what is shared across creative practices as well as what is specific to a subject-area’s culture.

Stage 3 helps the student undertake a sustained, focussed and resolved study with a longer, final project that is perceived as ‘under their control’. The emphasis is on increasing/focussing their subject-area knowledge - testing their commitment, and the production and organisation of coherent and resolved work - as they devise the brief, manage the process and outcome, and are participants in the process of evaluating their work.

As a common basis of engagement, a photography studio accommodates teaching methods including lectures, seminars, study trips, group critiques, workshop activities, group and individual tutorials with tutors, industry professionals and subject specialists. Project work and critical and contextual studies offer opportunities for presentation: visual, spoken and textual, using digital technologies, blogs, videos, photography and websites. The course seeks to foster learning and teaching that adopts a student-centred approach, identifying individual learning styles and accommodating them.

Lectures provide and encourage a critically informed view of a topic, contextualising the subject and illustrating applied approaches. Lectures provide students with a managed introduction to a theme, enabling them to continue with suggested or directed self-study.

Seminars enable students to debate and explore subjects, questions and assignments with peers and tutors, encouraging an open and collaborative approach to shared learning.

Tutorials support individual learning, allowing for individual approaches to study, and catering for individual interests. Tutorials can be diagnostic or can support specific assignment or project-related questions and support differing student paths to achievement of learning outcomes.

Study trips offer opportunities for vital direct experience with photographs and sites of photography study, and to communicate with and learn from experts and specialists at photography institutions and organisations.

Live briefings and feedback are an important aspect of work-related learning, exposing photography students to experience of professional ways of working, of professional expectations of standards, and of the most current professional practice.

Group critiques allow students to benefit from feedback on their own and others’ work, to contribute to that feedback, and are a valuable part of the peer-to-peer learning that is a core expectation and reason for University study.

Workshops offer students opportunities to engage in creative practice via making. Opportunities will be available to students to undertake workshop and studio practice relevant to their assignments or collaborative projects. The objective is to apply knowledge and acquire technical competence, to think critically and creatively, to master technique and develop the capacity to work independently and within teams.


Course aims

The BA Photography course aims are all aligned with the qualification descriptors in the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
The BA Photography course aims are to provide a high quality, specialist undergraduate education in art in the most plural way, by which we mean the course accommodates all methods of enquiry in photography, via critical practice as well as studio practice, both of which this course understands as inseparable for learning and teaching in photography. The course seeks to ensure its graduates are knowledgeable, creative, culturally and environmentally aware, technically able and of value to future employers, as a part of any team in the world of work. The course fosters curiosity and a sense of enquiry, competence in research, analysis and presentation, independence of thought, self-reliance, confidence and openness to professional development.

The course aims (CA) are to:
CA1. promote risk-taking, exploratory and innovative strategies for photography, via its system of studio groups;
CA2. encourage penetrating research and analysis, developing a rigorous and professional approach to the practice and challenges of being a photographer to develop social or commercial entrepreneurialism and career opportunities via its professional practice modules;
CA3. ensure responsible ethical photographic practice in relation to cultural, environmental, material and social circumstances and the needs of peoples and communities, via studio practice and critical and contextual studies teaching;
CA4. develop in its professional practice modules an understanding of the working practices, roles and regulatory environment of the photography sector;
CA5. foster critical thinking in the Critical and Contextual studies modules about the cultural, psychological, emotional, political, technological and economic factors related to photography;
CA6. develop curiosity, independent enquiry and capacity to reason, critique and reflect upon photographic practice through an integrated approach to method of enquiry, research and analysis in studio practice and critical and contextual studies modules;
CA7. through working with photographic equipment using both analogue and digital processes and platforms, develop skills for professional photographic practice by a strong workshop programme in its studio practice modules;
CA8. combine intellectual processes, personal creative vision and technical skills in realisation of photographs for display in print and web publications and exhibition spaces;
CA9. develop confident and persuasive presentational and communication skills utilising multidisciplinary approaches and production techniques via a series of presentation assessment items;
CA10. produce graduates who can work independently, manage their own time and tasks and those of others, reflect objectively on their own performance, and plan effectively for the future, including for their careers by insisting that students prioritise their time through regular planning of time for work/life balance in study, leisure and employment;
CA11. support the growth of the individual; fostering self-reliance and commitment to personal and professional development, ensuring that graduates remain well-informed about current and developing thought and practice, and therefore maintain their employability, all via a strong pastoral approach in studio practice and course academic tuition.

Course learning outcomes

On completion of the BA Photography course, the student will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding
1. recognise the relationship existing between culture, politics and the economy both historically and contemporaneously and its relevance to concepts, principles and theories of photography (CA5, CA6);
2. describe, explore, test and challenge a range of methods of enquiry associated with photographic process (CA1, CA2, CA5);
3. assimilate into practice the principles, codes and ethics necessary to the practice of photography (CA3, CA4);

Cognitive Intellectual Abilities
4. employ a range of intellectual skills that contribute to both convergent and divergent forms of thinking, observation, investigation, research and analysis, independently appraising and articulating reasoned arguments to select, organise, structure, reference and formulate responses to historical, theoretical, practice-based or technical questions about photography (CA2, CA6, CA8);
5. apply and test photography ideas by understanding the context and critical issues that surround them and make decisions in the practice of photography based upon social, ethical, environmental and economic issues (CA2, CA3, CA8);
6. consider the needs and views of the photography viewer, audience, community, culture or wider public and assimilate them in relation to specific photography projects, attending talks and events to analyse, appraise and challenge how contemporaries address these needs and views (CA3, CA8);

Transferable Skills
7. interact collaboratively on photography projects with other photographers, associated professionals, community, as well the wider public (CA7, CA9, CA10);
8. communicate photography ideas, principles and concepts effectively by oral, written and visual means with clarity and confidence (CA4, CA9);
9. exercise self-directed management skills in photography, including time management, team negotiation and collaboration (CA10, CA11);

Subject-Specific Practical Skills
10. organise and apply tools, equipment, materials and techniques relating to photography, using both analogue and digital techniques (CA7, CA8);
11. develop employability and entrepreneurial skills to effectively communicate, present, publish and exhibit project work made by photographers, understanding the roles and expertise of the extended team within the world of photography (CA2, CA9);
12. exhibit understanding of the roles and expertise of the extended team within the photography sector and work effectively in that context, enabling continuous self-development (CA4, CA10, CA11).

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Title Module Code Course Learning Outcome

Project AA3001 LO2, LO3, LO6, LO8
Techniques AA3002 LO2, LO8, LO10
Formats AA3004 LO1, LO6, LO7
Critical and Contextual Studies: Foundation CP3010 LO1, LO4, LO8, LO9

Critical and Contextual Studies 1 (Art) CP4013 LO1, LO4, LO7
Visual Intelligence FA4007 LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5, LO9
Project Work 1 FA4P01 LO2, LO3, LO6, LO7, LO8
Techniques: Photography FA4009 LO2, LO10

Critical and Contextual Studies 2 (Art) CP5013 LO1, LO3, LO4, LO8
Methods and Enquiry 1 FA5006 LO1, LO2, LO5, LO8
Project Work 2 FA5P01 LO3, LO, LO6, LO7, LO9
Professional Practice 1: Photography FA5008 LO2, LO10, LO11

Critical and Contextual Studies: Dissertation (Art) CP6013 LO1, LO4, LO9
Methods and Enquiry 2 FA6010 LO1, LO2, LO5, LO9
Major Project FA6P01 LO2, LO6, LO8, LO9
Professional Practice 2: Photography FA6007 LO3, LO11, LO12

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statement: Art & Design (2017)
Subject Benchmark Statement: History of Art, Architecture and Design (2017)

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for the Photography course has been designed holistically, to ensure manageable timing, workloads and clarity of expectations for students and to avoid duplication of assessment of learning outcomes.

The assessment regimes for the modules are designed together with the programme, prior to the start of each year, to take into account student, external examiner, professional collaborator and colleague feedback from previous instances. The requirements of project briefs and their components, the assessment criteria, grading scheme and descriptors are published and explained to students at the start of the year and are designed to be used as consistently as possible, to avoid unnecessary complication. Assessment is directly related to the achievement of learning outcomes. Qualification frameworks and subject benchmark statements are consulted to ensure clear language that is appropriate to level of study. Students are informed of the procedures for first, second and parity marking, and external examiner scrutiny of the assessment process and marks, to ensure that they understand and have confidence in the probity of the process and security of the final marks.

In every case, there is required formative assessment and feedback prior to summative assessment at set points in the course, either following assignment hand-in or at an Interim Review in January. This is recorded and shared so that it can be used by both students and staff to track further progress and engage support where it is required. Feedback follows good pedagogic practice in that it is constructed as ‘feed-forward’, with a focus on specific actions and strategies as to how to improve, not only on what requires improvement. Challenge to students is managed, so that students performing well within year are encouraged to strive for excellence, while those performing less well experience clear, targeted and structured guidance, including notice of where they are doing well or are showing potential.

The course adheres to the University’s requirements for summative assessment and written feedback turnaround times and to the University's Academic Regulations for first marking and second mark sampling. In its studio practice modules every coursework is second-marked, not just a sample. First and second marks in studio practice are shared by staff in one local file before agreement of final marks and proof-read transcription to central system. Additionally, the course engages in Subject and School parity exercises to ensure that assessment standards are consistent. This is especially important in relation to studio delivery through which students on the same modules will be undertaking differing projects.

All the BA Photography course's assessment and feedback practices are typically informed by reflection, consideration of professional practice, as well as subject-specific and educational scholarship. Staff and students typically engage in constructive dialogue to promote a shared understanding of the basis on which academic judgements are made. All art students are provided with regular opportunities to develop an understanding of best academic practice and the necessary skills to demonstrate it. The volume, timing and nature of assessments enable students to demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the intended learning outcomes and formative assessment is clearly designed to support students in developing for summative assessment. Feedback on assessment is timely, constructive and developmental and all processes for marking assessments and for moderating marks are clearly articulated and consistently operated by all those involved in the assessment process.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

Work-related learning is embedded in the course both formally in the modules FA5008 Professional Practice 1: Photography and FA6007 Professional Practice 2: Photography and throughout the course through live projects, industry visits, visiting speakers and events such as ‘Making a Living’ and ‘Celebration’ weeks.

With support from the Careers and Employability Office, students progress through study culminating in L6, learning to present themselves and their work online and externally, developing and refining CVs, undertaking employment research, becoming aware of employment or external project opportunities, making approaches and applications, undertaking relevant practical work, obtaining feedback or appraisal and critically reflecting on the experience and learning. Work-related learning is a core element in the course with at least 70 hours working on live projects for real organisations. Students will experience a competitive recruitment process / pitch for opportunities and they will be required to reflect on their experience of the project and undertake forward career action planning.

The large majority of the tutors and lecturers on the course are practitioners and share their knowledge and experience with students throughout their course of study. The studio delivery of the course means that opportunities for work related learning through collaboration with external companies, agencies, institutions, competitions and professionals can be taken up as they arise, if appropriate to the programme of study.

Studios function as simulations of professional workplaces, with expectations of professional standards, conduct and delivery building as the students progress from level to level. During their final year, students are expected to work independently towards completion of professional portfolio of projects, culminating in exhibition of these in the annual summer show and associated events.

Course specific regulations

ACADEMIC PROGRESSION: As a condition of progressing from Level 3 to 4, Level 4 to Level 5 and from Level 5 to Level 6, students are required to have gained 120 credits per level, that is, by achieving pass marks (40% or above) in all four modules in the preceding level of study.

Level 6: 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 480-credit degree will be 8 years. The pattern of study in this instance shall be as follows:

Year 1 – AA3001 & AA3002 or CP3010 & AA3004
Year 2 – AA3001 & AA3002 or CP3010 & AA3004
Year 3 – FA4007, FA4009
Year 4 – CP4013, FA4P01
Year 5 – FA5006, FA5008
Year 6 – CP5013, FA5P01
Year 7 – CP6013, FA6010
Year 8 – FA6007, FA6P01

Modules required for interim awards

All modules are core and compulsory for students to qualify for an award of BA (Hons) Photography. There is no flexibility in choice or in the order in which modules may be taken. The part time route is prescribed (section 25).

Year 0/Level 3 core modules:
CP3010 Critical and Contextual Studies: Foundation
AA3001 Project
AA3002 Techniques
AA3004 Formats

Year 1/Level 4 core modules:
CP4013 Critical and Contextual Studies 1 (Art)
FA4007 Visual Intelligence
FA4P01 Project Work 1
FA4009 Techniques: Photography

Year 2/Level 5 core modules:
CP5013 Critical and Contextual Studies 2 (Art)
FA5006 Methods and Enquiry 1
FA5P01 Project Work 2
FA5008 Professional Practice 1: Photography

Year 3/Level 6:
CP6013 Critical and Contextual Studies: Dissertation (Art)
FA6010 Methods and Enquiry 2
FA6P01 Major Project
FA6007 Professional Practice 2: Photography

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The School’s studio system of curriculum delivery embeds reflective learning and personal development planning throughout the course.

Most summative assessment is at the end of year-long modules, with several formative assessment points formally instituted over the course of the year. At these interim formative assessment and feedback points, students reflect on their progress to date with their peers and course staff (with the benefit of feedback from professional partners), seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. The feedback and student reflection are recorded and forms an action plan for the next period of study.

This system is highly individualised, but also benefits from peer engagement in studio critiques. The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Throughout the modules and the course therefore, in this way, students build bodies of work, including reflections on progress and achievement, and planning for their future achievement of targets.

In the foundation year the main outcome of the course is contained in the student’s portfolio of projects containing edited and organised versions of all the work the student has undertaken during the course. It is used both for the purposes of self-reflection and evaluation, formal assessment and, in various versions, to apply for jobs or courses. Building the portfolio is a continuous enterprise. Every project, practical or intellectual exercise can be represented in the portfolio but also has to contribute to the document as a whole and in its parts. Students learn to reflect on their work both as a specific item and in the context of their own developing profile in their portfolio.

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

Students typically take-up careers in the photography sector or the creative and cultural industries. Others train as teachers. Many find careers in media, advertising, sales, public relations or marketing. Some students also progress to further study at MA and PhD level.

Careers advice is integral to the course. Photography-related employers are invited to lecture and support the review of student CVs and portfolio surgeries are carried out through which the student is given encouraging and specific advice regarding their presentational focus. Students are mentored by photography professionals throughout their final year and students are encouraged and supported to seek internships and work experience. Competition, exhibition and publicity opportunities exist throughout the course and external exhibitions enable photography students to develop further career opportunities. Students are supported throughout to reflect upon their own practice to be able to progress successfully to their chosen field within the photography sector.

Students can also benefit from support and guidance from the Careers and Employability services and the University’s business incubator unit, ‘Accelerator’.

Career opportunities

Our Photography (including foundation year) BA degree opens up a wide range of careers on graduation. While many of our graduates go on to become freelance or in-house photographers, there are also opportunities in graphic design, illustration, digital marketing, video-editing and education.

This degree is also an excellent foundation for postgraduate study.

Entry requirements

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

  • at least one A level (or a minimum of 32 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC Subsidiary/National/BTEC Extended Diploma)
  • English Language GCSE at grade C/4 or above or will need to take the University English test

You will need to attend an interview with your portfolio of creative work. We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications. We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

If you live in the UK, you will be invited to a portfolio interview. If you live outside the UK you will be required to submit a small portfolio of work via email.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2019/20 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 15 Aug 2019 Last validation date 15 Aug 2019  
JACS codes
Route code PHOTFY

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 03 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
AA3001 Project Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM
AA3002 Techniques Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU PM
AA3004 Formats Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR WED PM
CP3010 Critical & Contextual Studies: Foundation Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR WED AM

Stage 1 Level 03 January start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
AA3001 Project Core 30        
AA3002 Techniques Core 30        
AA3004 Formats Core 30        
CP3010 Critical & Contextual Studies: Foundation Core 30        

Stage 2 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
FA4007 Visual Intelligence Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU PM
FA4009 Techniques: Photography Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM
FA4P01 Project Work 1 Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM

Stage 3 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 PM
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 PM

Stage 4 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 PM
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 PM