module specification

SJ5085 - Photojournalism research methods (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Photojournalism research methods
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
25 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
80 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Annotated Bibliography
Coursework 80%   Research Proposal
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This one-semester module provides builds on the introduction to the practices, theories and history of photojournalism, introduced at level 4 and prepares students for the major photographic project at level 6 and the development of their own future professional practice as photojournalists and documentary photographers. The module assumes that students already possess a basic knowledge of some of the history, theories and debates relevant to the practice of documentary photography, and it will encourage and facilitate students’ development of a deeper engagement with, and understanding of these ideas. The module provides essential preparation for the major project in the final year of study.

The module covers two distinct areas of research and photograph: the undertaking of research into photography and photojournalism, and the use of photography as a research method in itself. As such, the module will draw on both traditional academic qualitative research methods insofar as they are applicable to the practice of photography, and will draw on the insights offered by visual anthropology.

Students will be assessed by way of an annotated bibliography, and through the production of a detailed research proposal that gives an account of the work students expect to pursue for their final year major project. The practical and intellectual skills gained through this module are all transferrable and highly relevant to future employment and are directly relevant to the developing professional practice of the students as photographers


The module will be divided into two blocks, each focussing on one of the two major areas of research to be covered:

Block One will introduce students to some of the key ideas relevant to the use of research as a way of acquiring knowledge and will introduce students to specific methods pertinent to research into photography and photographic practice. Areas covered will include epistemology, semiotics, discourse analysis, content analysis and reception study.  LO 1,3

Block Two will consider the uses of photography as a research tool in itself and will introduce students to key ideas and methods in the practice of visual anthropology.  LO 2,3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

In class teaching and activities:
45 hours, 3 hours a week for 15 weeks

Guided Independent Study
80 hours

Preparation of material for assessment (including photography and final preparation for presentation)
25 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

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module, students who actively engage with the reading, practical and theoretical exercises will be able to:
1. Understand and use a range of research methods applicable to research into photojournalism and photographic practice
2. Understand and explain key issues in the practice of visual anthropology
3. Design and develop and research project in documentary photography and/or photojournalism

Assessment strategy

Formative and summative assessment will be given via written feedback on CWK 1 - an annotated bibliography submitted midway through the module - given to students through weblearn. This feedback, insofar as it is formative, will specifically address areas that students can work on in preparing for the final summative assessments. Students will be able to discuss this feedback in individual tutorials with the course tutor.

Summative assessment will be by way of a research proposal, which may address the research the student intends to undertake for the major project at level 6, and should demonstrate development in relation to work in progress presented for formative assessment.

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:
Deacon, D., Pickering, M., Golding, P., and Murdock, G. (2018) Researching Communications: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis. London: Arnold.

Pauwels, L. (2017) Reframing Visual Social Science: Towards a More Visual Sociology and Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Other Texts: Banks, M. (2015) Visual Methods in Social Research 2nd Edn. London: Sage.

Photography and Culture. London: Routledge.
Philosophy of Photography. Bristol: Intellect Books
British Journal of Photography
European Photography