BA (Hons)


An innovative study of this rapidly developing and lens-based medium

W640UCAS code 3yrsfull time 1yrplacement option

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

Photographs are encountered everywhere, everyday, by everyone – from galleries and museums to magazines, billboards, books and online. Photography is both a unique art form and a mass medium.

This course covers the wide breadth of photographic practice, with opportunities to do projects in documentary, editorial and fine art photography. Throughout the degree there is a strong focus on professional practice, focusing on how you can publicise yourself and your work outside the University and gain the key graduate skills needed to work in the creative sector.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Go on study visits to galleries and photography festivals in London, Paris, Berlin and Brighton
  • Undertake real-life commissions and enter your work into competitions
  • Create a portfolio of your work and work with your peers to organise exhibitions of your photography in Portsmouth and London
  • Visit our course blog to find out more

What opportunities might it lead to?

On this course you will develop strong creative and technical abilities. As a result, you will have the skills to work in photography or as part of the wider creative industries, from writers to curators, picture editors to educators.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • photography
  • working in galleries
  • setting up photography businesses
  • digital editing
  • film making
  • further study and research
Thomas Needham, BA (Hons) Photography student 2013

We did an exhibition last term. It was really, really successful. Having people turn up to see your work is just such a good feeling.

Thomas Needham, BA (Hons) Photography student 2013

Compare this course through UNISTATS

Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
3 years full time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
240-300 points from A levels or equivalent, with 100 points from an A level in an Art & Design subject, preferably Photography. Or Foundation Art & Design or National Diploma in Art & Design. Applicants may be subject to interview. A portfolio is essential. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5. Other qualifications

15/16 entry: UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man full-time students: £9,000 p/a*
15/16 entry: International full-time students: £11,500 p/a**

*Please note that the tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Please note that the tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

For details see terms and conditions

+44 (0)23 9284 2421
School of Art and Design
Programme specification


Art and Design

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The creative atmosphere that encourages students to explore their own interests and ideas
  • The excellent facilities which you will have access to
  • Exhibiting, curating and promoting your work, preparing you for future employment

Browse all courses in Art and Design

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Light bulb Structure & Teaching

Year one

The first year introduces you to the key technical, creative and theoretical elements of working with photography. Professional practice units start exploring the range of photographic careers available.

Core units in this year include:

  • City Spaces
  • Storytelling and the Photobook
  • Introduction to Professional Practice
  • Introduction to Practice Research
  • Creative Digital Photography
  • Introduction to Visual Culture

Year two

By the second year you’ll have learnt the key technical skills and be regularly putting them into practice. You will also explore the historical and contemporary debates about photography, which will give you the ability to think, talk and write about your work and that of others. You will get the chance to exhibit outside of the University, as well as take an editorial unit to create work for a magazine of your choice, learning design and layout skills to add to your photographic knowledge.

Core units in this year include:

  • Documentary Practices
  • The Body
  • Professional Practice and Promotion
  • Practice Research

Options to choose from in this year include:

  • Commissioned Briefs
  • Music: Practice, Performance and Research
  • Professional Experience
  • Student Enterprise
  • Visual Culture: Art, Science and Visual Culture
  • Visual Culture: Cult Films and Postmodernism
  • Visual Culture: Design, Style and Identity
  • Visual Culture: Issues of Representation
  • Visual Culture: Technology and the Image

Year three*

In your final year you will have the chance to specialise and write your own briefs that relate to an area of photography you are interested in. Your research skills that have been learnt throughout the course are applied to develop this work conceptually. The professional practice unit focuses on preparing your online and/or print based portfolio for graduation and the year ends with exhibitions of students' work in both Portsmouth and London.

Core units in this year include:

  • Set Brief Project
  • Self-Led Project
  • Advanced Practice Research
  • Professional Practice

Options to choose from in this year include:

  • Visual Culture: Research Project
  • Visual Culture: Dissertation

*This course is also available as a 4-year sandwich (work placement)

Placement year

Between the second and third years of study you will have the option to undertake a work placement year. There are two exciting options for the placement year:

  • Professional/industrial placements – work for a company or organisation on a professional placement year
  • Self-employed placement year – set up and run a business on your own or as a group

To find out more visit our Placements page.

Teaching and Assessment

We offer a variety of engaging teaching methods from workshops, lectures, projects and seminars, to individual tutorials. There is a strong emphasis on hands-on practical sessions and you’ll also benefit from being taught by practising professionals with expertise in exhibiting, publishing, curating and writing about photography.

How are you assessed?

You will mostly be assessed by a mix of written and practical coursework. Learning becomes more independent as the course progresses. Here’s how we assess your work:

  • practical photography projects (many listed below)
  • exhibition prints
  • artists books
  • magazine layouts
  • screen based work and moving image
  • real-life exhibition projects
  • portfolios

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Monitor Facilities & Features

Studios and Darkrooms

We have excellent photographic studios with flash and tungsten lighting set ups. You can work with digital and traditional cameras, from 35mm to medium and large format. Lighting and cameras are also available to borrow for shooting on location.

Our digital darkroom is equipped with Mac computers, high end neg scanners and ink jet printers. We also have both black and white and colour darkrooms.


Guest Speakers

We organise a lively programme of visiting speakers in order to encourage a vibrant culture of debate and industry contact. Recent speakers on the course have included the world-renowned photographers Martin Parr, Jason Evans, Paul Seawright, Adam Broomberg, Anna Fox and Eric Kessels.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
Where next?

We will equip you with the knowledge of emerging technology in photography and the professional practice elements of the course are in line with current and future industry trends. Not only will this give you a competitive edge in the job market, but it will help you to develop your own individual style, enhancing your future employment prospects.

Our recent graduates have gained a wide variety of jobs and some have set up small businesses. We also have a number of previous students who currently teach photography or are pursuing postgraduate education. Each year we run Alumni days were six recent graduates come back to talk to our current students about routes into the industry.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • assistant, commercial, editorial and studio photographers
  • exhibiting photographers
  • film-makers
  • picture editors
  • retouchers
  • lecturer in photography

Work experience

Employment boosting opportunities
Employment boosting opportunities

The subject of photography relies on practical abilities and employers will want to see evidence of the work you have achieved during your studies.

Therefore, we aim to provide as many real-life opportunities as possible. Whether it be working alongside local galleries or putting on a photography exhibition, all are great ways to show employers that you can apply these experiences to professional practice once you graduate.

This course also allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which lets you earn credits toward your degree for work/research placements, volunteer roles or internships undertaken alongside your studies. This gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability skills, reflect on the ways in which you've done so and learn to express this to potential employers.

Career planning

Career planning
Career planning
6.04 minutes

Finding a job is a competitive business, but the statistics show that 88 per cent of our 2013 graduates went into employment, further study or training within six months of finishing their degrees.

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi's success story

Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi from Romania, a photography student at the University of Portsmouth, won first prize in the culture category of the prestigious 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Youth Award. The Youth Award is open to photographers aged 19 and under.

Alecsandra has a passion for documentary photography and says: “Something drew me into documentary and portraiture. I think it was the fact that people and their stories have always fascinated me.”

Alecsandra’s winning photograph will feature in a month-long exhibition of the winners and finalists at Somerset House in London, and will be published in the Sony World Photography Awards book. The image was taken on New Year’s Eve in the city of Botosani, in the Moldavia region of Romania, and features a mask-dance called the ‘Dance of the Bear’, a tradition still practised in rural areas.

Click here to view her winning photograph.

Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi, BA (Hons) Photography student 2013


Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi
BA (Hons) Photography student 2013

I applied for photography because I wanted to transform my passion into something real and to create a culture. So this is only the beginning, I have many plans for my future. I want to make my voice heard by all people around the world, by using photography as an instrument. I would like to use my photography as a means to get to understand the world and the people around me. This University has really made me think positively about my future career.

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