MA Photography - University of Portsmouth


Part Time2yrs

Full Time 1yr

Develop your voice within Contemporary Documentary Practice

Course Overview

Why take this course?

On this course you will extend your photographic work at postgraduate level, defining your own authorial voice within the context of the contemporary documentary environment and the theoretical debates that underpin this. 

There is a strong ethos in social and cultural awareness, supporting projects that are embedded within research and professional practice. You will be encouraged to network, publicise and market your work outside the University, and enhance your skills for working in the creative sector.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Experience an intellectual challenge within a productive research community, aided by supportive supervision.
  • Engage with internationally renowned visiting speakers and practitioners.
  • Take part in study visits to galleries and photography festivals.

What opportunities might it lead to?

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

The MA course may lead to opportunities in:

  • Freelance photography
  • Curating
  • Exhibiting
  • Assisting in a commercial photographic environment
  • Visual content provider
  • Picture editing
  • PhD research / Research related careers


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Structure & Teaching

This MA course is offered over one year (full time) or two years (part-time). The course has units related to:

  • Research: This includes methodologies, analytical skills, visual analysis, research management and organisation, professional skills, networking and personal effectiveness.
  • Creative photographic practice: This includes analogue and digital skills, editing, project management, professional practice and industry links, peer learning, contextualisation and reflective practice.

Core units comprise:

  • Proposal
  • A Question of Research
  • Photography Major Project
  • Contemporary Documentary Practice in Context

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and Assessment

The course informs and encourages our students to participate in project work that is built upon social and cultural awareness through engaging and collaborating with communities outside of the university, nationally and internationally.

Much of the teaching encourages students to have the ability to verbally articulate their ideas, peer exchange and participate in collaborative learning, with some workshops and lectures. You will benefit from being taught by practising professionals with extensive expertise in exhibiting, publishing and curating.

There will be regular contact teaching time including one-to-one and group tutorials and workshops. You will also have the opportunity to engage in the wider culture that develops within the subject area alongside the undergraduate students in Photography.

During the final stage of the course in summer the learning becomes more independent and self-managed making your timetable more flexible.

How are you assessed?

You will mostly be assessed by a mix of written and practical coursework, with regular feedback.

Tutor's View


Judy Harrison
MA Photography Course Leader

This exciting new MA course in Photography offers you the opportunity to question, develop and reflect upon your own practice by exploring the genre of contemporary documentary practice.

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Facilities & Features

Studios and Darkrooms

We have excellent photographic studios with flash and tungsten lighting set ups with both digital and traditional cameras supported by a digital darkroom together with traditional darkrooms. You can work with digital and analogue 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.

Design studios provide working spaces as well as areas for scheduled tutorials and presentations, with projection facilities for digital reviews.

Technical Facilities

You will have access to a wide range of powerful and modern multimedia PC and Mac computers equipped with the latest industry standard software, professional printers and extensive film, video and photography editing facilities. Should you need any assistance, there are specialist knowledgeable, enthusiastic and highly motivated technicians on hand to support you in using the facilities.

The Eldon Production Centre offers laser-cutting, 3D printing, CNC milling machine and digital fabric printing. The photographic workshops and computer suites are very well equipped, including Macs and PCs running industry-standard software. Specialist filming equipment is available from the Faculty Loan Store. The print workshops include excellent facilities with specific areas for – screenprinting, letterpress, laser cutting, dye sublimation printing and digital fabric printing.

Guest Speakers

We organise a lively programme of visiting speakers in order to encourage a vibrant culture of debate and industry contact. Recent speakers have included the world-renowned photographers Martin Parr, Jason Evans, Paul Seawright, Adam Broomberg, Melanie Manchot, Julian Germain, Faisal Abdu-Allah, Tom Hunter 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.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider


There are costs relating to the purchase of materials and / or reprographic requirements for work. This may be in the region of £100 - £1000. These costs will depend on the nature of the work and the media used.

For optional study trips, you will be expected to pay full costs. Optional study trips will cost in the region of £200 - £800. UK trips, where offered, will be in the region of £50 - £150.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

Through seminars, project work, training and work experience, the MA Photography course will help you to engage with the creative industries of photography and its ancillary industries to be better equipped for employment and further career progression.

Roles our graduates may take on include:

  • Research-related careers
  • PhD study
  • Free-lance photographers
  • Assisting work
  • Picture editors
  • Editorial photography
  • Setting up own businesses
  • Digital printing and retouching
  • News industry
  • Picture agencies
  • Publishing
  • Curation
  • Galleries and museums
  • Design
  • Media industry
  • Teaching

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Here at the Creative Careers Centre we are committed to improving your employability. Whether it’s placements, self-employed placements, internships, short-term work experiences, freelancing opportunities and volunteering, we will help you find valuable and relevant work experience to complement your degree. The experienced team is always on hand to offer advice on everything from producing high-quality applications through to preparation for a company assessment day.

Career planning

Career planning

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.

Video Description

Discover the benefits of studying a postgraduate course in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries. This CCi TV video features lecturers from the faculty and a current Masters student.

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Apply now or visit us

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.

Postgraduate Open Evenings

Our Postgraduate Open Evenings are taking place between February and April. Lecturers and support staff will be available to discuss your options. You'll also find out more about your chosen course and subjects that interest you.

Booking will open soon but in the meantime, watch our Postgrad Live series to hear from our staff and students about what it's like studying at Portsmouth. 

Other opportunities to visit

Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University.

We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.

Find out more about our self-guided walking tours.

Can't get to Portsmouth?

If you can’t make it to Portsmouth, come and see us at one of the events we attend around the UK.

If you would like to speak with a member of staff about any courses you are interested in, please email and we will arrange this for you.

Staff from the University of Portsmouth Global office also regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484