Course specification and structure
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UDPHTGRY - BA (Hons) Photography (Top-up)

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Bachelor of Arts Level Honours
Possible interim awards
Total credits for course 120
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
Full-time 1 YEARS 2 YEARS
Part-time 2 YEARS 4 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.

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 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.

The course comprises four year-long (30 credit) modules in the areas of photography studio practice, project development and realisation, critical and contextual studies, technical skills and professional practice.

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.

Blended learning uses the University’s virtual learning environment to support and reinforce reflective learning, to monitor progress through assignments, to foster peer-to-peer communication and collaborative research activity and to facilitate tutorial support for students and flexible approaches to learning

Project briefs develop from year to year in accordance with contemporary photography practice and opportunities for engagement with external partners that arise. Photography research skills are embedded in the course and are built upon to ensure maximum use of the learning opportunities that projects and assignments offer. Photography students graduate with a portfolio which includes written outputs with outcomes that demonstrate analysis through the making, interpretation or publication of photography, as well as career assets in the shape of professional website and social media that sustain the legacy of photography study for employability well into the period after graduation.

Critical and Contextual Studies: Dissertation runs in parallel to the studio practice programme. The module focus on transferable graduate skills in the field of academic scholarship and writing (alongside professional practice). Students need to be able to retrieve, analyse, interpret, articulate and structure information and knowledge for different purposes and audiences. The module frames key skills of research within the specific context of photography history and theory and takes account of the practice requirements of photography and its professional, legal, ethical and institutional contexts.

Digital literacy is embedded in the curriculum via the use of the university's virtual learning environment and in curriculum delivery and expectations of digital capabilities as appropriate to task set and the level of study. Students make use of digital platforms alongside traditional approaches to research, develop and communicate their projects.

Students are required to use due diligence in sourcing subjects for photography: for these purposes we subscribe to the code of ethics outlined by Photographers Without Borders at In addition the course advises students never to photograph children as models without DBS check of all adults involved in the photoshoot and to be clear about what cultural misappropriation means.

The teaching team includes professional photographers, artists, fashion photographers, documentary photographers and c

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

Critical and Contextual Studies: Dissertation (Art) CP6013 LO1, LO4, LO9
Methods and Enquiry 2 FA6010 LO1, LO2, LO5, LO9
Major Project FA6P01 LO2, LO6, LO7, LO8, LO9
Professional Practice 2: Photography FA6007 LO3, LO7, LO11, LO12

Principle QAA benchmark statements

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

Assessment strategy

To enter the course at Level 6 and achieve the award of BA (hons) Photography, the following modules must be completed and passed:

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

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

Work-related learning is embedded formally in the course in FA6007 Professional Practice 2: Photography and 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 learn 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.

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

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 120-credit course will be 2 years. The pattern of study in this instance shall be as follows:

Year 1 – CP6013, FA6010
Year 2 – FA6007, FA6P01

Modules required for interim awards

To enter the course at Level 6 and achieve the award of BA (hons) Photography, the following modules must be completed and passed:

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.

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

The Photography BA (Top-up) course opens up a number of job roles in the photography and creative industries, enabling you to pursue a career in magazines or newspapers, editorial or freelance photography, archive work, photo libraries, education or 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 studied at the School include Paddy Jolley, Sam Taylor-Wood, Suky Best and Leticia Valverdes.

This degree is also excellent preparation for postgraduate study.

Entry requirements

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

  • 240 credits from a Higher National Diploma (HND), Foundation Degree (FdA/ FdSc) or equivalent international qualification in a relevant subject
  • 240 credits from years 1 and 2 of an undergraduate degree (BA/BSc) in a relevant subject at a different institution
  • a portfolio interview

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.

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

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2019/20 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 30 May 2019 Last validation date 30 May 2019  
JACS codes 100063 (photography): 100%
Route code PHTGRY

Course Structure

Stage 1 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