module specification

SJ4010 - Photojournalism: theory (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Photojournalism: theory
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
50 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
160 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 25%   In-class individual presentation
Coursework 75%   Essay
Running in 2021/22

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Morning

Module summary

This year long module provides a comprehensive introduction to the theories and history of photojournalism. The module positions contemporary photojournalistic practices within the contexts of the historical development of photojournalism and documentary photography, and provides students with an introduction to some of the key theories and debates relevant to visual communication and meaning. Field trips and guest speakers will enhance the students’ understanding of contemporary photojournalistic practice, and the links between practice, historical context and critical thinking.

Students will be assessed by way of an in-class presentation and by way of an essay that requires students to critically consider key works of photojournalism and/or documentary photography. The intellectual and critical skills gained through this module are all transferrable and highly relevant to future employment


A comprehensive programme of lectures and seminars will introduce students to the work of key figures in the history of photojournalism and documentary photography. Students will be encouraged to consider their own practice as photographers in relation to the context of this history.   LO 1,2

Lectures and seminars will also be used to introduce students to different theoretical perspectives on the visual image and the production of meaning through visual forms. In this way students will begin to develop critical tools for considering their own work and that of other photographers. Students’ development of these critical tools will be enhanced by visits to relevant exhibitions and by guest speakers.  LO  2,3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

In class teaching and activities:
90 hours, 3 hours a week for 30 weeks (27 taught weeks plus 3 enhancement/news weeks)

Guided Independent Study
160 hours

Preparation of material for assessment (including photography and final preparation for presentation)
50 hours

Students will be encouraged to make full use of online resources, to engage with the tutor via electronic communication methods such as skype. Students are expected to maintain a reflective, critical approach to their work.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module, students who actively engage with the reading, practical and theoretical exercises will be able to:
1. Explain the historical development of photojournalism and documentary photography in Europe and North America, as well as globally, with Thomson Reuters Foundation and Magnum photographers.
2. Employ a range of theoretical frameworks to analyse visual material
3. Critically evaluate documentary photography from various historical and theoretical perspectives

Assessment strategy

Formative and summative assessment will be through in class presentations by students, in which each student leads a discussion of the work of a notable photojournalist or documentary photographer. Students will be given immediate oral feedback which will they will be able to discuss with the tutor in class and which will be consolidated by written feedback given to students electronically. This feedback, insofar as it is formative, will specifically address areas that students can work on in preparing for the final summative assessments.

Summative assessment will be by way of an essay addressing key questions relevant to the theory and/or history of photojournalism and documentary photography.

A marking scheme will be included in the module handbook to ensure students are familiar with the criteria by which their work will be assessed


Identify core and additional reading
Liaise with Library Services to confirm availability of on-line licenses in academic year

Where possible, the most current version of reading materials is used during the delivery of this module.  Comprehensive reading lists are provided to students in their handbooks.  Reading Lists will be updated annually.


Core Text:
Wells, L.  ed. (2009) Photography: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge

Other Texts:
Faris Belt, A. (2012) The Elements of Photography: Understanding and Creating  Sophisticated Images. 2nd Edn.  London: Focal Press.

Modrak R., with Anthes, B. (2011) Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice.  London: Routledge.

Photography and Culture. London: Routledge



Photographers’ Gallery

British Association of Journalists (apply for student membership)

UK Press Card Authority

Martin Parr Foundation

W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund

Royal Photographic Society

British Journal of Photography

Self Publish Be Happy

TJ Boulting Gallery

Trolley Books

Getty Images

Alamy (stock agency)